Tag Archives: password protection

How to erase Windows login password if you forget it

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When you start your Windows computer, you probably have to enter your login password before Windows would let you see your desktop and do stuff. Have you ever wondered how secure the built-in password protection of Windows is? The answer may surprise you! This article shows how to use the tools freely available on the Internet to create a bootable CD that can be used to erase the Windows password. If you forget your Windows login password, you can use this information to erase your own password and restore access to your Windows files and folders. Be aware, however, that anyone who has the physical access to your computer can do that, too! If you have private files that you really don't want anyone to see, the Windows password is not enough to protect them. (More about this later.)

Summary of the steps:

  1. Read the instructions first!
  2. Download a CD image file
  3. Burn the CD image file to a recordable CD-R disc
  4. Boot your computer from the CD-R disc
  5. Make the correct selections to clear your Windows password
  6. Restart the computer as usual and login to Windows without password!
  7. Secure your files for real

Read the instructions first!

Yes, read this whole page before you start doing anything and see if you feel up to the task. If anything is unclear, ask a friend, or a colleague who has more experience with the computers than you, or seek help from a qualified professional. Don't take this lightly: if you do something wrong, you may end up with an inoperable computer or destroyed files. Better ask for help now than when it's too late!

Let's check a few things before going any further. Does your computer run Windows or is it a Mac? If it's a Mac, stop here and go look for a password-resetting tool specifically designed for the Mac computers. This information won't help you if you have a Mac, don't even try it.

OK, so your computer runs Windows. Which version? Is it XP, or Vista, or Windows 7, 8, 10? Or is it an much older version such as Windows 95, 98, or Windows Millennium? If it's the latter, stop here and go look for another tool, this information won't help you reset a password to an old Windows computer, don't even try it.

So, you have Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, or XP. Is it 32-bit or 64-bit? The method discussed here works for either one, but if you can't tell, it's probably a good indication that you better ask someone more experienced with Windows than you are for help.

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Another question: have you used Windows Encrypted File System (EFS) to encrypt files on your computer? If you don't know, it probably means that you have not used it, which is OK. However, if you did use it, be aware that any file that you've encrypted with EFS will be lost after you've erased the Windows password. If you have such EFS-encrypted files and you don't want to lose them, stop here and consult with a qualified computer professional. (This does not apply to the files encrypted with other encryption software, such as our USBCrypt: the Windows login password has no effect on such files.)

If you are OK so far, go on.

However, first things first:

DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION DISCUSSED HERE CAN CAUSE HARM TO YOUR COMPUTER, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: THE IRREPAIRABLE DAMAGE TO THE FILES, MAKING THE COMPUTER INOPERABLE, AND/OR VOIDING THE COMPUTER MANUFACTURER'S WARRANTY. YOUR COMPUTER MAY BE INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE INFORMATION DISCUSSED HERE. THE INFORMATION DISCUSSED HERE INVOLVES THIRD-PARTY TOOLS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN TESTED BY WINABILITY SOFTWARE CORPORATION. THE USE OF THE TOOLS AND INFORMATION DISCUSSED HERE MAY BE ILLEGAL IN YOUR JURISDICTION. THE INFORMATION DISCUSSED HERE IS PROVIDED "AS-IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND. THE INFORMATION AND TOOLS DISCUSSED HERE MAY BE INCORRECT, OUTDATED, INVALID, OR HARMFUL. BY USING THE INFORMATION AND TOOLS DISCUSSED HERE YOU AGREE WITHOUT EXCEPTION THAT YOU WILL BE THE SOLE RESPONSIBLE PARTY FOR DETERMINING WHETHER THIS INFORMATION AND TOOLS ARE SUITABLE FOR USE BY YOU, AND YOU AGREE THAT ALL RISK ARISING FROM ANY USE OR MISUSE OF THE INFORMATION AND TOOLS WILL REMAIN WITH YOU. THE INFORMATION AND TOOLS DISCUSSED HERE ARE NOT SUPPORTED BY WINABILITY SOFTWARE CORPORATION. SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS OR ASSISTANCE WITH REGARD TO THE INFORMATION AND TOOLS DISCUSSED HERE YOU SHOULD SEEK COMPETENT LEGAL AND/OR TECHNICAL ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED PROFESSIONALS.

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Download the CD image file

To prepare for the password-erasing procedure, you need another computer to connect to the Internet, download the necessary file, and burn the CD image to a CD-R disc. Click on the link below to download a zip file, save it to the hard drive (remember where you've saved it and its name!). Note: this link points to a file located on a third-party server. If the download does not start, it means a problem with that server. In such a case, please wait a minute or two, and try again. If the problem with the link persists, please let us know.

Download the password-erasing CD image

This should download a Zip file that contains the software created by Petter Nordahl-Hagen.

Burn the CD image file to a recordable CD-R disc

The Zip file that you have just downloaded contains an ISO file that you need to extract out of the Zip file. (If you don't know how to do it, ask someone.) Then use disc-burning software to burn the ISO image to a blank CD-R disc. Note that you should not burn the ISO file itself to a disc, you need to burn the image inside of the ISO file to a disc. Usually the CD-burning software can figure it out. If not, again, ask someone for help.

To verify that you have burned the CD-R correctly, open it with Windows Explorer. If you see BOOT.CFG, BOOT.MSG, and other files there, it means the disc has been created correctly. If however, you only see one ISO file there, that's not right, such a disc will not work!

Boot your computer from the CD-R disc

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Now that you've prepared the CD-R disc, go to the computer for which you have forgotten the password. Insert the CD-R in the CD or DVD drive and turn the computer on (or restart it if it's already on). If you see no difference in how the computer starts (that is, you see a Windows logo displayed and then it prompts you for a password to log in) it means that your computer is configured to boot from the the hard drive directly. What you need to do is change its BIOS settings to make it try to boot from the CD first. The exact procedure depends on your computer model and the version of BIOS that it has. Locate the manual that came with your computer and find the instructions there or search the vendor's web site for the information. If you don't know how to change the BIOS settings, again, ask someone how knows for help. Keep in mind that when you get to the BIOS settings screen, your mouse most probably won't work, you would need to use the keyboard to make the changes.

The boot settings are usually located on the Boot menu of the BIOS screen, similar to this:

Move the CD-ROM entry to the top of the boot list. When done, don't forget to save the changes:

The computer will restart and hopefully this time instead of the Windows logo you will see a black-and-white screen filled with information, probably scrolling up rather fast. If that's what's happening, it means you did it right, the computer has booted from your CD-R and is getting ready for the procedure. Wait a few seconds until the scrolling stops. Now pay attention and be very careful what you do, it's very important!

Make the correct selections

At this point you are probably seeing a screen similar to the following:

Pay attention to the bottom part of the screen, that's where the text explaining what's expected from you is. As the example above shows, what you need to do now is select the partition of the hard drive that has Windows installed. In most situations it's not as scary as it sounds. If you have Windows XP or Windows 2000, then the first partition is where Windows usually is. However, if you have Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista (which is the case for the example screen above), then the first partition could be a small (100MB) boot partition, and Windows partition most probably is the second one. If you select a wrong partition here, the software will check for the presence of Windows on it later on and if not found, it will return you back to this screen and you will have an opportunity to select another partition. Enter the number of the Windows partition here (which is 2 in this example) and press the Enter key to continue:

Here, it asks you to enter the path to the registry directory. Most probably, Windows is installed in its default location, so you don't need to change anything here. Just press Enter to continue:

If you see a screen that has --More-- at the bottom, it means that you have probably selected the correct Windows partition in the previous step. Press the q key to dismiss the screen. If you don't see such a screen, it probably means that you have selected a wrong partition. In such a case press q to go to the previous screen and try another partition.

Type 1 and press Enter to continue.

Type 1 and press Enter here, too.

You are almost there! Now, enter the name of your user account that you want to reset the password for. In this example, the account name is AdminUser, your user name will likely be different. Check the list of the users at the bottom of your screen to see how your user name appears there, that's how you are supposed to enter it.

Type your user name and press Enter to continue.

Type 1 and press Enter to continue.

If you see the message Password cleared! near the bottom of the screen, that's good, but you are not finished yet: the program still needs to save the changes back to the Windows partition. To do that, type ! and press Enter to continue:

Here, type q and press Enter to continue. You will be asked to confirm that you want the program to write the file(s) back:

Type y and press Enter to continue.

This screen asks if you want to repeat the procedure (New run?). Type n and press Enter to decline, unless you see an error message and want to try again.

Now you are done! Remove the CD-R disc from the tray, and restart the computer. It should start as usual now, displaying the Windows logo, and finally showing the Windows login screen. Just click on your login icon (if it asks for a password, leave it blank) and you should enter Windows without the password! Now you can use Windows Control Panel to create a new password for your account. Take care to remember it this time, or you would have to go through this procedure again.

Secure your files for real

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
User rating: 4.7/5
Purchase or download a free trial. Read more...

As you can see, it's quite easy to erase the Windows login password and get to your Windows desktop and files. This is a good thing if it's you who forgot your own password who is erasing the password. However, what if you lose your laptop or someone breaks into your office and steals your computer? If you have any important files that no one should see (such as your client database, your accounting or tax records, or maybe even the family photos you took during your last vacation), you need to secure them more strongly than with just the Windows password.

To secure your files for real, you need software that uses strong encryption to protect your files. "Strong" encryption means that even if someone has an unrestricted physical access to your computer, even if someone can examine every bit of information stored on your computer, even if someone is the brightest person in the world, s/he would not be able to decrypt your files without knowing your password. Search the Internet, you will find plenty of software products offering the encryption (be aware, though, that not every software that claims to be able to encrypt your files offers the "strong" encryption). Try them all, then come back here and check out our strong encryption product USBCrypt: it will keep your sensitive files much more secure than Windows itself.

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How to unhide a folder hidden with Folder Guard

Password-protect and hide personal files and folders with Folder Guard for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
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If you've used Folder Guard to lock a folder with a password, it's obvious how to unprotect such a folder: just double-click on the folder's icon, enter your password, and the folder would be unlocked. However, what if you have set up the folder to be hidden altogether? In such a case, when you browse your computer, you would not see the folder in the Explorer windows, and there would be no icon to double-click on! So, how to unlock the folder if it's invisible?

The solution is simple: use any of the available methods offered by Folder Guard to pause the protection, and that should make any hidden folders instantly visible:

Folder Guard offers several tools to display such a screen:

  • You can pause or resume the protection at any time by running Folder Guard using its Desktop shortcut or Windows Start menu.
  • You may want to set up a hot key to give yourself quick access to the Pause/Resume Protection command by pressing a key combination of your choice.
  • You can also enable the option to display a Folder Guard icon on Windows taskbar next to the clock, and click on that icon to get access to the Resume/Pause Protection command:

When you are done using the folder, how to hide the hidden folder back? Use any of the same tools listed above, but this time choose to Resume the protection:

Happy computing!

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Test the strength of your password with USBCrypt

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
User rating: 4.7/5
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When using USBCrypt to password protect drives, you have probably wondered, how difficult would it be for someone to just try all possible character combinations and discover the correct password that way? If someone were to write a program to automate the process of simulating the password entry, how fast would it take to discover the correct password?

Well, you may be surprised to learn that there is no need to write a special program for that, because USBCrypt already includes such a command out of the box! It’s easy to try it: just try starting an encrypted drive, as usual, but instead of entering the password, click on the Tools button and select the Recover Password item on the menu:

USBCrypt comes with a command to recover the password by using the brute force

On the next screen, select the character set you want to try. You can select the minimum and maximum length of the passwords to try, and also choose between the lower-case or upper-case characters, digits, special characters, or any combination of them:

The settings for the Recover Password command of USBCrypt

When you press the Start button, USBCrypt starts to try the passwords from the character set you’ve selected, in turn, until it finds one that unlocks the encrypted drive. It displays the progress in a separate window, that also shows the estimated time to complete the enumeration of all possible passwords:

The progress of the Recover Password command of USBCrypt

If you’ve selected a very simple password, it can be discovered rather quickly, and the result is displayed right away:

The successful result of the Recover Password command of USBCrypt

What about the more complex passwords? The time to try them all grows rapidly as the length of the password or its complexity increases. Here are a few numbers, obtained on a computer with a mid-range (as of the time of this writing) Intel i5-650 CPU:

Characters/Maximum lengthUp to 3Up to 5Up to 7
Lowercase30 minutes15 days28 years
Lowercase + Uppercase4 hours1 year35 hundred years
Lowercase + Uppercase + digits7 hours3 years12 thousand years
Lowercase + Uppercase + digits + all special characters1 day 26 years240 thousand years

(You may get different numbers, depending on the CPU your computer has.)

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
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As you can see, by choosing a password that’s complex enough, you can protect your secrets with USBCrypt pretty well. On the flip side, take care to remember your password, because if you forget it, it would be practically impossible to recover it (unless you have created a spare key file with USBCrypt, of course.

Happy encrypting!

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Lock folders and drives with passwords

Password-Protect Folders

If you want to protect folders with passwords without encrypting the files, then Folder Guard is the tool you need. The password protection is instantaneous, no matter how many files the folder contains or how large the files are. However, the password protection takes effect only on your computer, where Folder Guard is running: if you move the folder to another computer, it will not be protected, unless that computer has Folder Guard installed and configured, as well. Read more about Folder Guard...

Encrypt external USB drives

If you have an external drive that you want to protect with a password, then USBCrypt is the software you need. This software creates an encrypted area on the external drive that you can use to keep your sensitive files. You can use the encrypted drive with other computers, that don't have USBCrypt software installed. If you lose the encrypted drive, your files will be safely protected with the password you've chosen. Read more about USBCrypt...

How to password-protect a folder with Folder Guard

You can use Folder Guard software to protect folders with passwords.

To lock a folder with a password: run Folder Guard and drag and drop the folder you want to protect to its window, or click the Lock another folder with a password link:

Use Folder Guard to protect folders with passwords

Select the folder to protect, enter the desired password, adjust the password properties, as needed:

Properties for the folder password

You can specify that the password may be used only by the local users, or by the network users, or both. You can choose the password to unlock a full access to the folder, or give the user the read-only access. (You can create several different passwords for the same folder, giving different access types to the users.)

Now apply the changes and try to open the folder you have just protected. Navigate to the protected folder, and you should see an empty window with the Unlock button in the middle:

The Unlock button lets you unlock the password-protected folder

Click the Unlock button, and prompt for the password should appear:

To open a password protected folder you must enter your password first

If you have entered the correct password, the folder should become unprotected and you should be able to work with the files and subfolders it contains without restrictions, as usual. However, if you don't enter the correct password, the folder will remain protected.

(Note that in order to unlock the folder this way, you need to double-click on the folder in the right-hand panel of the Windows Explorer window. If you select the folder in the left-hand panel that shows the folder tree, the password prompt will not be shown and the Access denied message will be shown instead.)

Now, after you have unlocked the folder, try to close the Windows Explorer window, and you should see a prompt to lock the folder back:

You are prompted to lock the folder when closing the Windows Explorer window

Reply Yes, and the folder will be locked back with the password again, and will remain inaccessible until you enter the correct password again.

In addition to the basic password-protection described above, Folder Guard lets you customize the way it works to suit your specific requirements:

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
User rating: 4.7/5
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  • You can direct Folder Guard to add the Lock and Unlock commands to the Windows shortcut menu. You can use them to lock and unlock the password-protected folders by right-clicking on them, instead of (or in addition to) double-clicking on the folders as described above.
  • If you have locked many folders with passwords, you can make them all accessible at once by running Folder Guard and pausing the protection (you will need to enter your Master password, or course!) When you are done working with the protected folders, run Folder Guard and choose to resume the protection, to lock all folders at once with one click.
  • Instead of locking files and folders with passwords, your can completely hide them!

And more! Please feel free to download the fully functional evaluation version and give it a try. If you don't like it, use Windows Control Panel to uninstall it: no strings attached.

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Can USBCrypt encrypt the C: drive?

Although the primary function of USBCrypt is to protect the external and removable drives from unauthorized access, it’s possible to encrypt the main system C: drive with it as well. Yes, you can use USBCrypt software to create a Virtual Encrypted Disk hosted on the C: drive, and use it to store your sensitive files and folders in the Virtual Encrypted Disk. The only difference when using the C: drive as the host for the Virtual Encrypted Disk is that the C: drive is always plugged in to the computer.

If you want to create a Virtual Encrypted Disk on the C: drive, the only thing you need to do when running USBCrypt is enable the “Include the system drive in the list” option:

The option to include the system drive in the USBCrypt list

After that, you can proceed as usual: select the desired size for the Virtual Encrypted Disk, the encryption algorithm, the password and so on. Before starting, however, it’s a good idea to create a full backup of your system drive, to be able to start over if something goes not as expected.

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
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When deciding on the size of the Virtual Encrypted Disk to create, do not make it take all available free space: leave plenty of room on the host disk for use by Windows.

After the Virtual Encrypted Disk has been created, you can start it as usual (it will have a separate drive letter, other than C:), and move the files and documents you want to be private to the encrypted drive. Be careful NOT TO MOVE the Windows folder and other folders you might see on the C: drive (such as Program Files, ProgramData, Documents and Settings, Users, etc.) These are system folders that must remain where they are, or Windows may start doing weird things. Only move the files and documents that need to be protected, leave everything else where it is.

Happy encrypting!

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Using names and labels to organize USBCrypt drives

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
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If you use USBCrypt to protect just one or two drives, it’s easy to keep track of them. However, when the number of the encrypted drives grows, it becomes more difficult to keep them organized. The fact that each physical drive can be represented by two drive letters (one for the host drive and another one for the Virtual Encrypted Disk it contains) does not make it any easier. To help you manage the encrypted drives, USBCrypt offers you the options of assigning names to them. There are several names used by USBCrypt and Windows in different places of their user interfaces. Let us discuss them in detail.

When you encrypt a drive for the first time, USBCrypt asks you to choose two names: the Virtual Encrypted Disk name and the Host Disk name:

Choosing the encrypted drive name

The first name (for the Virtual Encrypted Disk) is used when displaying the windows and menus of USBCrypt. For example, it is shown on the USBCrypt window when starting the encrypted disk:

Starting a Virtual Encrypted Disk

This name is also displayed on the USBCrypt “balloon” notifications:

An Encrypted Disk has been attached

Or, when you right-click on a USBCrypt taskbar icon, you can see the name of Virtual Encrypted Disk on the menu:

The Virtual Encrypted Disk menu

As you can see, by using different names with different Virtual Encrypted Disk, you can make it easier to recognize them in Windows.

What about the second name you are asked to enter when encrypting a drive, the Host Disk name? This name is displayed by Windows as a label next to the host disk:

The Host Disk label

You can change the default name “USBCrypt Host Disk” to something more descriptive. Keep in mind, however, than both the Host Disk and Virtual Encrypted Disk names are NOT encrypted: they can be seen even before you enter the password to start the encrypted drive.

What if later on you’ve decided that other names would describe your encrypted drive better? You can change both the Virtual Encrypted Disk and Host Disk names by clicking on the Tools button on the Start Virtual Encrypted Disk window:

Changing the Virtual Encrypted Disk and Host Disk names

If you change the Virtual Encrypted Disk name, it takes effect immediately. However, if you change the Host Disk name, you may need to restart the computer before Windows would recognize the new name.

Besides the Virtual Encrypted Disk and Host Disk names, there is a third name that Windows uses to refer to the Virtual Encrypted Disks you create: it’s the labels it shows next to the Virtual Encrypted Disks in the Explorer windows:

Virtual Encrypted Disk label

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
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The default text for the label is “Virtual Encrypted Disk” if you have chosen the NTFS file system for it, or just “ENCRYPTED” if you have formatted it with the FAT file system (because FAT limits the number and kind of characters that can be used in a drive label). USBCrypt itself does not provide a command to change such a label, because Windows itself offers it: you can change the label of an encrypted drive in the same way as of any other drive: by right-clicking on the drive and choosing Properties from the menu:

Changing the Virtual Encrypted Disk label

Enter the desired name there, and the label will change. Unlike the Virtual Encrypted Disk and the Host Disk names we’ve discussed above, the Virtual Encrypted Disk label is encrypted, along with all other data the encrypted disk contains: this label is only displayed by Windows after you’ve entered the correct password to start the encrypted disk.

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How to password-protect a USB flash drive

Encrypt and password-protect external drives with USBCrypt software for Windows 10,8,7, and XP.
User rating: 4.7/5
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Password-protecting a flash drive is easy with the USBCrypt wizard software. When you run it, it guides you through the steps of encrypting a removable USB flash drive. It asks you to choose a name for the encrypted drive (this is optional, but can be handy if you have several similar drives that you use to store different kinds of files):

Choose a name for the encrypted USB drive

After a few more steps, which you may want to leave the settings as they are (the defaults should be suitable for most common situations), or you can adjust the options offered by the USBCrypt wizard. For example, you can choose to encrypt the whole drive or only a part of it. You can also select the encrypted file system (FAT or NTFS) to use for the encrypted data. Another option is to choose the encryption strength (such as the 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption in the XTS mode). Yet another option lets you choose whether to create a “spare key” file on your computer, that you could use should you forget you main encryption password:

Choose a strong password for the encrypted USB drive

After the flash drive has been encrypted, you can start it (by entering its password) and it will become accessible via its own drive letter, just as any other drive. To encrypt a file, just move it to the encrypted drive (by, for example, dragging and dropping it using Windows Explorer or with our file manager AB Commander), and the file will be encrypted on-the -fly. To open the encrypted file, you don’t have to do anything special: you can double-click the file on the encrypted drive, as usual, and it will be decrypted transparently for you. When you save the changes, they will be encrypted automatically for you, too. In short, there is no difference between using the encrypted drive and a regular drive!

When you are done using the encrypted files, you need to lock it back. TO do that, you can use the USBCrypt icon in Windows taskbar to stop the encrypted drive:

Lock the encrypted USB drive with password

After the encrypted drive has been stopped, all files and folders it contains become locked with your password again. At this point, you can detach the flash drive from the computer. You can sleep well at night, knowing that your files are safe and sound too.

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