Windows Server 2003 SBS, reset administrative password

I've read the other entries for resetting the administrator password for windows server 2003, but nothing is working.  
I have the same general issue as the fella in this link:

Here's my problem.  I've tried everything.  I've downloaded free password reset tools, I've paid for password reset tools, I've used the Windows Ultimate Boot CD, I've tried this process here:

I cannot reset the password for this Windows Server 2003 SBS administrator.  When I try and login normally, my only option selectable is to log in to the domain xxxxx-xxxx.  

I've reset the local administrator account and logged into the Directory Service Restore Mode and tried to log in with the 'administrator' and a blank password... no fly.

What is the definitive way to reset the administrator password for a single DC server running windows server 2003?

The previous tech guy had a field day on this server.  Locked out all the user accounts and changed the singular administrator password.  I'm screwed and I really don't want to have to charge this poor company $1000 to reinstall their server environment and point of sale software.

Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.


These comments are from RobWill that should help, it is more specific to 2003:

Recovering the password is near impossible. You will need to reset the password. Most of the password reset tools such as listed above will not work, as they are for non-domain controllers.

The process is not easy but is outlined in the following link. I recently did so and it works well. As outlined you need to change the AD restore mode password using Petter Nordahl-Hagen 's boot disk, then create a service that will change the password at boot.

There are very few options on A DC, the only other I am aware of is to buy 3rd party software such as:

hope this helps.
Here is a link to instructions on how to reset admin password for 2003:
You may also need this to reset the local admin password.
batteredandscarredAuthor Commented:
The solution was none of these.  The statement that was made that it's impossible to access a DC without having a local administrative password is inaccurate according to what I was able to do.  Here is the procedure that worked for me:

1. Follow the instructions for creating a Ultimate Boot CD.  Download for compiler is available here:
I made a standard boot cd using one of my windows xp pro installation cds.

2. AT THE D.C. Boot from CD you've made, allow it to load it's standard GUI that looks extremely similar to windows XP.

3. Navigate to the DC's Root Windows\system32 folder
4. Rename sethc.exe to sethc.exe.old
5. Rename cmd.exe to sethc.exe
6. Reboot your server without the CD in it to the login prompt
7. Tap the shift key several times until you get the command prompt to pop up.
8. From here you could launch almost any snap-in necessary.  i chose COMPMGMT.MSC where I was able to reset the admininstrator's password from here,
9. Log out, log back in with new password.
10. When you are done, rename sethc.exe back to cmd.exe and sethc.exe.old back to sethc.exe
11. Resume normal administrative activities, buy a coffee/redbull/monster drink, a donut, etc.

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
batteredandscarred  can i do that with SBS 2003 ?
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.