Forgetting your password is just about the most common thing that happens to computer users. And there are plenty of us when it comes to Windows since Microsoft holds a majority of the operating system user base. If your amnesia is only temporary, and you can’t focus, or you left your CAPS LOCK enabled, the pain is only temporary. But what if you can’t recall your password at all? That means all your precious files are behind lock and key designed to stop people from snooping. Luckily, you should be at a huge advantage. After all, you put the lock yourself. Time is of the essence here – here’s how to recover a laptop password.
What is a laptop password?
In this context, the laptop password refers to the password you type when you start your system. Without the password, you will not be able to log in to your Windows computer. There are different types of security measures in place for Windows systems these days. Traditional passwords, PIN number, or even patterns are possible to be set as a password.
What is a password reset disk?
A password reset disk is a disk that allows you to reset your Windows passwords in the even of forgetting it. If you ever created a password disk, even if you forget the login password to your Windows laptop, you will be able to use that reset disk and reset the password to regain access. According to Microsoft, no matter how many times you tried typing in the wrong password, you will still be able to reset it if you have a Windows password reset disk. That way, you don’t have to restore your laptop, which will result in data loss.
How to create a Windows 10 password reset disk
Before we go into ways of restoring access to your computer using Windows 10, we need to respect our loyal readers. We assume they are very security-conscious and want to do the best job at protecting themselves. Windows 10 has a built-in solution for the people who think ahead, and for those that prefer using a local account instead of their Microsoft account to log-in.
- Optional. If your Windows 10 is version 1803 and higher, you have the option to add security questions instead of creating a password reset disk. Click on the Start button, then type Settings or click on the cogwheel icon above the power button. Choose Sign-in options, then Update your security questions. If you don’t want that, proceed.
- Plug your USB flash drive into your computer’s USB port.
- Type Create a password reset disk either in the Start bar on the taskbar’s search box and pick the option of the same name.
- A Forgotten Password wizard will start. Click Next.
- Pick the drive that corresponds to your USB flash drive, and click Next again. Keep in mind, the process won’t format the drive, so you can keep other files on there. It is always good practice to have a backup of those files regardless.
- Type your current password, then select Next.
- Once the wizard completes the process, click on Finish.
- Eject the USB drive and keep it in a safe, hidden place.
- Clarification. The recovery drive will be able to retrieve access to your computer even if you changed your password multiple times afterward. This means you don’t need to repeat the process every time you change your password.
How to recover your laptop password from a Windows 10 password reset disk
The dire situation came, and you cannot seem to get to your desktop. It’s the right time to use the password reset disk. These are the steps to recover a laptop from a password reset disk –
- Plug your USB pen drive into the USB slot.
- Get to the log-in screen.
- Once you type your password wrong a few times, an icon of a key will appear on the bottom right side.
- Click on the icon of a key.
- Follow the on-screen instructions that require you to simply navigate to the drive that contains the drive, after which you can log back in.
How to recover a laptop password without a reset disk
If you do not have a password reset disk set up, recovering the password of your laptop may become a bit tricky. These are the methods you can follow –
Method 1. Recover Microsoft account on Windows 10
Here’s a solution for users who prefer to log in to their Windows 10 computer with their Microsoft account. The process is very similar to the one in our guide on how to recover Microsoft account. This is a viable option if you have a secondary computer or a smartphone, of course. We’ll describe the process is resetting your password outside of the browser. Keep in mind, it still requires an Internet connection.
- Turn on the computer, and get to the login screen.
- Click on I forgot my password underneath.
- Enter your Microsoft account e-mail address.
- You will have to confirm your identity before you can reset your password. This is commonly done through entering a code you received through SMS on a registered phone number. Or, if you didn’t provide that, a code sent to your secondary e-mail address. It is entirely up to you and depends on how you set your Microsoft account initially.
- After the verification process is complete, you will be able to reset your password and log in.
Method 2. Through User Accounts (The easy way)
When you install Windows, no matter the version, the operating system often creates a secondary user account next to the one you create during setup. It is simply named Administrator. This is not always possible, but is worth a try.
- Boot your laptop and reach the Windows welcome screen. Try pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete together two times in a row.
- The login fields might slightly change visually in some way. Regardless, go ahead and use the Administrator as username, and leave the password blank (unless you remember setting it yourself).
- When you get to the desktop, click on the Start bar.
- Type Add, edit, or remove users and click on the option of that name.
- Open Control Panel, then navigate to User Accounts.
- Click on Manage another account.
- You should see at least two accounts, an Administrator, and the one you usually log in with.
- Click on your account. Click on Change the password.
- Restart the computer after the password change, and log in to your account.
Method 3. Recover a local account password on Windows 10 (For advanced users)
Finally, we thought we would present you with a solution that is undoubtedly going to work. However, it requires fiddling with a few advanced things. You can simply follow the guide to the tee, and you will be fine.
- Insert the USB drive with the Windows 10 installation into the USB port.
- Boot the computer up. While it is booting, keep pressing a key that allows you to enter the BIOS. It is typically F8, F9, ESC, or DEL, depending on your motherboard’s manufacturer. The exact key you need to press will be written at the bottom of your screen while the laptop is booting.
- Once you are in the BIOS, navigate to Boot Priority.
- Make sure your USB drive is in the first place, followed by your HDD or SSD.
- Press the key that allows you to Save and Exit (typically F10).
- Once the computer starts back up, it should enter a Windows Setup.
- While on the Setup, press Shift + F10.
- A black window named Command Prompt will appear.
- Copy move C:\windows\system32\utilman.exe C:\windows\system32\utilman.exe.bak and paste it in the window, then press Enter on your keyboard. We assume your system partition is C, change the letter on both sides if it isn’t.
- Now, copy C:\windows\system32\cmd.exe C:\windows\system32\utilman.exe and paste it before pressing Enter.
- Now, type wpeutil reboot and press Enter, which will restart your computer.
- Once it restarts and you’re back at the login screen, press WIN + U, or click on the Ease of Access menu if Command Prompt doesn’t start automatically.
- In Command Prompt, type net user and press Enter. Remember the username of your account.
- Now, type net user username password and press Enter. Exchange username with the actual username of your account, and password with a new password. For example, net user Michael smith1234
- Try to log in immediately. If it doesn’t work, restart the computer and try again.