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Enabling the Windows 7 Administrator account

Posted on 2012-03-28
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Last Modified: 2012-09-12
I recently installed a piece of software that required me to disconnect my Windows 7 pc from our local domain. On rebooting the PC I tried to login with the local administrator account (the only local account) and got the message that the account was disabled (forgot that by default it was disabled). I'm unable to login with my domain account obviously. I tried starting the PC with the installation disc, getting to a command prompt and typing "net user administrator /active:yes" which I saw as a solution a number of different places but although it says "command completed successfully" on reboot, while attempting to login to the administrator account, I still get the message that the account is disabled.  How do I enable the account without having to wipe out the whole install?

Thanks for your time.
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Question by:tstarlin
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Expert Comment

by:Run5k
ID: 37779187
If you are trying to reset a Windows 7 local password and/or enable an account, download the freeware ISO file from here:

Petter Nordahl-Hagen's Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

After you have burned that ISO to disc, boot up into the Linux environment and reset your password.  I have been using this utility to help people with their forgotten Windows passwords for over ten years, and unless the hard drive has actually been encrypted it has worked every time! Here is a comprehensive tutorial on how to utilize it:

http://pcsupport.about.com/od/toolsofthetrade/ss/ontpre-screenshot-guide.htm

http://pcsupport.about.com/od/toolsofthetrade/ss/ontpre-screenshot-guide-p2.htm

There are two important steps within that tutorial that warrant extra attention:

- When you reach the User Edit Menu stage of the process it's best to select "1" to Clear (blank) user password.  You can always change the password to something more secure after you successfully log into Windows with the blank password.

- When you reach Step FOUR: Writing back changes, you will be queried with About to write file(s) back! Do it? [n].  If you inadvertently pressed Enter on this screen the changes won’t go into effect.  You need to specifically type "y" first for the updates to be written to the operating system.
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by:tstarlin
ID: 37779297
Thank you all. I'm not sure what the original commenters name was or how his\her instructions on how to enable a disabled account by offline editing the registry violated (understandable) rules on not revealing pre-existing passwords, but their instructions worked. Again, this had nothing to do with resetting passwords. The administrator account was disabled and I needed to enable it. Thank you original commenter for your insight.
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Accepted Solution

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connectex earned 500 total points
ID: 37783547
Ok. this is the article for enabling the local administrator account via offline registry editing: http://4sysops.com/archives/offline-enable-the-built-in-administrator-account-in-windows-7-and-vista/.

ModSquad: Most  brute force attacks aren't very successful unless you have physical system access. And frankly if they have that, they already have the "keys to the kingdom".

-Matt-
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Author Comment

by:tstarlin
ID: 37783569
ModSquad,

No need to apologies. Thank you for your clarification.
Matt, thank you for your answer to my problem.

-Todd
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