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Question

I received a laptop from a friend (it WASN'T stolen), and he'd loaded it up with lots of valuable, expensive programs that I found useful. It's a Dell Inspiron 8600. He originally had his own username and password to get logged into WinXP Professional, and he set it up so all I had to do was hit Enter on Admin2 to log on. I recently loaded a bad program into the computer that caused it some problems. I removed the program, but I was still having some performance problems, so I decided to use System Restore to get it back to the way it was when he sent it to me. Well, I did a good job, because I restored it too far, and now I can't log into Windows, because his username is there, but not his password, and it's been so long since he's used it, that he no longer remembers the password. I've filed a transfer of ownership with Dell, but I'm not sure if that'll help anything. They haven't responded yet. If Dell doesn't help me, is there anything that can be done to unlock the unit without losing all of the programs installed? My friend is trying to find the restore disk that came with it. Would that help anyway? Is there a way to reconfigure this thing, or is the chip soldered in place on the motherboard, that stores the passwords, and it's going to take everybody and their brother a whole lot of work to get this working again? If I go to a tech, he'll probably think it was stolen and not want to assist me. I'm stuck with just a huge piece of useless metal now, aren't I? Is it possible to use my WinXP Home (complete registered program) CD to get into startup and try to repair the unit -- or are they incompatible? If all else fails, I'll have to f-disk and reload Windows entirely and lose everything, which I think is probably the only choice I'll have, right?

Answer

All is not lost. First of all, do you or the friend you got the computer from know another account/password combination? If so, you could use this to log into the computer to change the password of the account your forgot. I doubt this helps, but I figured I would state obvious first.

Next, you can create a bootable disk with a registry editor with help from http://home.eunet.no/~pnordahl/ntpasswd/. This is a free utility that allows you to access the registry. Create this disk and boot from it.

Next, select the disk where the Windows XP installation is which is probably c: for you. After this, select PATH and registry files(Should be able to accept defaults). Third, select "Edit user data and passwords". After that you need to choose the user account. The program defaults to "Administrator", so you need to type the name of the user with the lost xp password if it's not the administrator account that you're trying to unlock. You can now supply a new password for the account. To finish it off confirm the password change and type "!" to quit the user selection menu. Now type "q" (for quit). The last step requires one more confirmation and then wants to know if you want another run. Answer with the defaults, remove the bootable floppy or cdrom and reboot your pc. You should now be good to go.







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