James from Washington, Missouri writes:
I frequently pick up used computers from yard sales, flea markets and such. The problem is…the password, of course. Is there a simple, easy and inexpensive way to log on and change the admin password or remove it?
Resetting Windows Password Using Offline NT Password & Registry Editor
Offline NT Password & Registry Editor is very fast tool compared to other Windows password recovery programs. Moreover, it is completely open source and free. It deletes the old password, so there is no need to access Windows at all. It works flawlessly with all versions of Windows XP, Vista and 7. It can reset passwords for 64 bit versions, too.
- First you need to visit their website  and click Password reset CD/USB bootdisk: Instructions & image to download in “How to get it?” section.
- Scroll down the page and download cd110511.zip file which is just about 3 Mb.
- Extract the ISO file from that zipped file and burn that ISO file to a disc.
- Restart your computer with that disc in the optical drive.
- Press Enter when boot prompt is shown and then wait for the program to load.
- You will see all the portions of your hard drive and then choose the correct hard drive partition where Windows is loaded. By default it will be the first one. Press Enter.
- Give the correct location of Windows Registry. By default it will show Windows/System32/config. Press Enter.
- Choose Password reset [sam system security] option which by default is choice number 1. Press Enter.
- Enter the username you’d like to reset password. Press Enter.
- Now enter 1 to Clear (blank) user password and press Enter.
- If you do all the above steps correctly, a confirmation message will be displayed. Now type ! to quit editing and press Enter.
- Type q to quit the program. Press Enter.
- Type y to confirm all the changes permanently and then press Enter.
- Press Enter confirming that you do not wish to rerun the program.
- Remove the disk and restart computer. You will now be able to log in without password.
Resetting Windows Password Using Linux Live CD (mint)
You can use Linux live CD and a program named chntpw will do the rest. You don’t have to install that OS to your hard drive. I am showing you how to do it using Linux Mint.
- Visit Linux Mint website  and download ISO. Burn it to a disc and boot up your computer using that bootable disc.
- Go to Menu>Accessories>Terminal.
- Type sudo apt-get update. Press Enter.
- Type sudo apt-get install chntpw. Press Enter and keep that terminal open.
- From desktop go to Computer and then just open the drive where Windows is loaded. It will mount that drive.
- In the terminal type cat /proc/mounts. Hit Enter. It will give output like /dev/sda1 /media/CA123DD456EA6512. This long serial no will vary in your case. Change it accordingly in next command.
- Type cd /media/ CA123DD456EA6512. Hit Enter.
- Type cd Windows/System32/config/ and Press Enter.
- Type sudo chntpw SAM and Press Enter. You will get a menu with all users of the system. Default is Administrator. Type 1 and press Enter to clear user password.
- If you need to reset password for a specific user, type sudo chntpw -u username SAM and follow previous instructions.
- Close everything and reboot system.
Resetting Windows Password Using Sticky Keys
This is the best way if you don’t have a bootable password recovery disk or a Linux live CD. Although you can’t have access to encrypted files, encrypted email messages or stored passwords of Internet Explorer and network resources, still you can get into your system for sure.
- By using your Windows installation disk, boots up your computer.
- Click Repair your computer link for Vista and later OS or press R in case of XP after everything loads.
- Select the OS to repair. Click Next or Press Enter in case of XP.
- Click Command Prompt from the list of recovery tools.
- I presume your OS is installed in drive C. Replace C with appropriate drive letter for other cases. In the CMD type copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\ and press Enter.
- Type copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe and press Enter.
- Now close everything and reboot computer.
- Tap Shift five times to pop up Command Prompt.
- Type net user username password. Replace username with your username and password with a new password.
- Exit Command Prompt and you can log in with your new password.