I have a small PC Repair Business. One of my clients has forgotten their password. Their PC is now over a year old, and somehow, the same password the client has used for this period of time, no longer works. Has a virus changed his password? Who knows.
Anyhow, the client has owned the PC for over a year and has only 5 MB of data on the whole PC, and no installed software since purchased, so I decided to pull the drive and take the data off it, on to a stick, and replace the drive and do a Full (Destructive) System Restore, bringing the PC back to its original factory configuration, then restore the data from stick, perform updates and install free Avast, Malwarebytes and CCleaner and some maintenance icons, like I have dozens of times before. Sounds like a plan.
No problem getting the data. But Ctrl+F11 does not start the System Restore. Going on-line, I find they have buried it in the F8 Safe Mode List of Options, actually at the top of the list. Fine. But entering the rebuild mode then asks for an Administrative account password, of which of course we don't have.
So I removed the drive, connected it to my laptop and using XP's Disk Management, switched the Dell Recovery Partition to be the Active Partition on the drive, then reinstalled it and booted. This fails miserably, looking for BOOTMGR. So I've switched the active partition back again...
At this point, I'm stopped in my tracks unless I want to buy some Password Recovery Software and burn an ISO to CD. I've heard their are some free versions of password recovery software but have always found these free versions difficult to use, sometimes not working at all.
I have 2 possible solutions:
1) Find a way to do a Dell Full System Restore without needing to know the users password (is their a standard Administrator account and Dell factory password?)
2) Use a recommended password recovery software, and burn bootable ISO to CD and boot from this to recover the password.