Windows 7 won't accept usual password (which has not been changed)

My wife's Windows 7 computer has only one user Mary on it which is an Administrator.  We are absolutely sure that neither of us has changed the password but now it will not let her log in with the password she always uses and we have tried all other possibilities we could think of to no avail.

I tried to use the Reset Password but it asked for a Password Reset Disk which she had never set up.  So I went to my Windows 7 computer and created a user Mary as Administrator and created a Password Reset Disk.  It seems that these disks are computer-dependent or have some other security feature as when I tried to use it on Mary's machine it just said that there was an error resetting the password (no other info).

I also tried replacing the keyboard in case it was faulty but the result is the same.

Is there a way to get access to Mary's account without reinstalling Windows as I don't think she has much (if anything) backed up?
KhaiPiAsked:
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Leroy LuffHead of IT & DIgitalCommented:
Try this : Pull the network cable out and restart - then attempt to login.
Larry Struckmeyer MVPCommented:
If the network cable trick does not work, use the password reset DVD created by download from this site:

http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/

Very handy tool.  Don't let the "old" appearance of the site put you off.  I keep one of his DVD's in my kit.  Read each screen... the default choices are mostly correct.  Activate the user if necessary and save back at the end.,

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andreasSystem AdminCommented:
Before you do all this kind of difficult things. Try to connect keyboard to another system and check that all keys are working that you need to input the password.
Also check keyboard layout on the login screen maybe its changed.
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arnoldCommented:
You can use the blueish circle left bottom corner to bring up an on screen keyboard to use ..
rindiCommented:
Once you get back into the PC (either by using the offline password reset CD or by using the correct keyboard layout - Check your caps-lock too). Make sure you create new accounts on the PC. Never ever work on any PC with an account that has Admin rights. Always work as a standard user, and have an extra Admin account on it. You can still do Admin tasks from the Standard accounts. If something need admin rights UAC will pop up and you can then use the admin account and password to do that task, without having to log off. Even I, who am the only user and the Admin of my PC's, Always use a standard account. Never and Admin account.
KhaiPiAuthor Commented:
The problem was that my wife had infact changed her password but could not remember the new one so all the suggestions about LAN cables and keyboards etc. were futile.

I dowloaded the reset DVD, ran it and it removed Mary's password.  When the machine restarted, it booted straight into Windows desktop and Mary then set her password AND WILL NOT FORGET IT!

Thanks Larry for this solution and very useful link.  Thanks also to all those who offered suggestions.
Larry Struckmeyer MVPCommented:
Now make a second Admin account and write down the name and password.  Put it in your dresser/nightstand/tv stand drawer.  Do not say what it is... call it "thinks to think about" or some such.

Agreeing with this also so create a third user... standard one and operate as that:

"Make sure you create new accounts on the PC. Never ever work on any PC with an account that has Admin rights. Always work as a standard user, and have an extra Admin account on it. You can still do Admin tasks from the Standard accounts. If something need admin rights UAC will pop up and you can then use the admin account and password to do that task, without having to log off. Even I, who am the only user and the Admin of my PC's, Always use a standard account. Never and Admin account. "
arnoldCommented:
Larry, while I agree with your sentiment, the issue at hand would not have been helped by those mechanisms.
The person would have continued trying to figure out why the person's password is not working until such time that the person recalled that they indeed changed the password or having other access would have given up and changed the password which ever is sooner.

The suggestion of split primary use by a non-administrator deals with mitigating/limiting infection of the system.  Unfortunately, these days the virus/malware infect the individual's profile versus the entire system. While makes the repair/fix much simpler, is unavoidable when the user is involved.
No doubt most experience this that an individual is told, unless you initiate something do not click to approve anything, and as the sun rises in the East, an individual inevitably hits approved during the wrong request/time.
Larry Struckmeyer MVPCommented:
Could indeed have been helped.  Connecting as the alternate Admin would allow that admin to change the password for the primary admin or the (preferred) standard user.  Two admin accounts is better than one, where the second is not used and the pw is secure and locatable.  

But in any case the DVD will (usually) allow one to reset the admin password.
arnoldCommented:
True, but as you likely know, a user who forgot they changed their password will insist that the issue is with the computer that needs to be fixed, and allowing the changing of the password will mean they effectively admit that they are not recalling the facts.
now that the asker has a password reset CD/DVD, .......
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