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"Ádmin'' account disappeared as logon option

Posted on 2012-03-23
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Last Modified: 2012-03-28
Hi

I have just restarted an old computer I haven't  used for a while. I was accustomed to logging on as Admin ( or Administrator?) ( yes, I know...) although there was also an account in my own name ( also an admin) which I didn't use as apps kept being installed under Admin. I then installed Win 7.  I used that for several months and then went travelling...
Those are the facts as I recall them. They don't fit the current reality tho.

I have now restarted the machine and booted XP to be presented only with my named account. The 'Admin' account is not available to logon to. I recall from somewhere that it's possible to hide the Admin account from the logon process but I don't recall doing that. It does not show up in User Accounts, either. Only my named account and Guest ( not available for login).

Also, I can use my named account but it has no password. I do not recall leaving an account without a password. It just seems like a very unlikely thing for me to do.

Once I'm logged in there are programs missing such as firefox/Chrome as they may have been only installed under admin. I can't recall. Very oddly, Eset firewall s/w is not in
stalled which I find contrary to my standard practice. This laptop had an account w/o password and w/o security software. Hmm.

How can I make the admin account accessible again?
Any idea how this situation could have arisen?
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Question by:memyselfi
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8 Comments
 
LVL 5

Assisted Solution

by:andrewmcc
andrewmcc earned 375 total points
ID: 37756460
Look up;
www.ultimatebootcd.com/

If you have a boot cd like Bart or MS Dart to diagnose issues, etc, sometimes you can boot off the cd without disturbing the original drive, you can then access the whole drive, view the event logs, find out what was happening since you last used it and see any activity of use on the system.
Once in, you can then reset the account user passwords etc, then see what is actually going on.

I'd check the logs first from event viewer, and see what is listed over the last few months, take the time to go through the application, system and security tabs, see what dates and times are listed, (might not be 100% accurate as sometimes dates and times can be set incorrectly).
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Author Comment

by:memyselfi
ID: 37756487
I don't have ultimatebootcd and fear it could become a timewell if I get it. It's an option tho.
AFAIK the laptop has been in  a cupboard and not used by anyone, certainly not anyone who could do anything significant. Is there a way to make the Admin account available for log on again, just to get me running again?
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LVL 44

Accepted Solution

by:
Darr247 earned 375 total points
ID: 37758476
It's not just hidden, it's actually disabled by default in Win7.

But you're saying this is happening in XP?

To enable/unhide the account in 7...
In an Administrator command window, run
net user administrator /active:yes

"The command completed successfully" should appear.

Close the Administrator window, logout, and the Administrator account should now appear. Click it and you should now be logged on as the administrator.

To disable the administrator account again, logout, and log back in as a user.
Open an Administrator window again (right-click cmd.exe and choose Run as administrator), then run
net user administrator /active:no

I'm not sure that works in XP, though.

The only other way I know how to hide (and disable) a user in XP is at
HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\SpecialAccounts\UserList

Set the data of the binary type with the name Administrator to the value of 1 to make it visible and active; set to 0 to hide the account and disable it.

edit: NB that if you do that last trick in 7 with no other admin-level accounts created, you'll be locked out of all functions that require administrator access and have to load the hive from another machine running 7 to fix it.
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LVL 11

Assisted Solution

by:ocanada_techguy
ocanada_techguy earned 750 total points
ID: 37760211
It's common for it to hide the built-in Administrator account if another account with admin rights Administrators group was created during the initial set-up, or if part of a domain, or if someone tweaked it.
If you type Ctrl-Alt-Del at the "friendly logon screen" you should get a logon where you can try specifying "Administrator" as user, but you'll need the password and no hint will be given.
If you boot into Safe Mode the "hidden" Administrator account may appear at friendly logon screen for safe mode.
And some live boot CDs let you examine the SAM and accounts and which accounts are hidden, disabled, or locked-out, without booting the hard disk, but rather booting CD and "mounting" the hd registry/hives for inspection.
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LVL 83

Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 37760334
I am confused are we dealing with windows xp or windows 7? Is this a dual boot computer in which you added windows 7 and have now loaded the windows xp partition and do not see the administrator logon account?
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Author Comment

by:memyselfi
ID: 37761399
@ve3ofa

It's an XP machine onto which I installed Windows 7 Ultimate.
XP refers to booting up in XP
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LVL 11

Assisted Solution

by:ocanada_techguy
ocanada_techguy earned 750 total points
ID: 37761550
It's an XP machine onto which I installed Windows 7 Ultimate.
then it's no longer an XP machine, it's Windows 7.  You could say it "used" to be an XP machine, but it's not if you upgraded to Win 7.

XP refers to booting up in XP
If you installed Win 7 Ultimate one would normally think you cannot boot XP, so hence the confusion about what you are talking.

Even your last answer to the request for clarification is still confusing.

So even more so with Win 7 than XP built-in Administrator is disabled at logon for Win 7 as a normal security precaution.  Any other users can invoke Run As Administrator with the admin's pwd, or you may be able to get to / logon Administrator account's desktop environment in Safe Mode.  

It may seem surprising but it is normal.  It is a very very bad idea for a user to be logging in as the Administrator account all the time, as that opens huge security loopholes for remote access or malware to have full admin priviledges, so bad of an idea it is that MS finally clued in and stopped people from doing it as now the standard practice not to.
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Author Comment

by:memyselfi
ID: 37775825
My final comment was not included when I closed the question:
Sorry for delay in finalising caused partly by connectivity issues. Thanks for all answers. They have proved helpful. I am now sorting matters out.
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