Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Trick You Can Do If You Keep Forgetting Your Computer Password

Expert Author Kay Franklin Like many things in life, a little thinking ahead goes a long way.
Have you arranged a spare key for your house with someone you trust, who lives nearby? The day you go out to get the mail or put the trash out - and hear that totally wrong sound. The front door drifting shut behind you. Right about the same time your brain is screaming at you that your keys are inside the house. That door has such a smug way of clicking shut. It's like it's looking at you with raised eyebrows as if to say "So what are you going to do now?"
That's the day you catch your heart beat, stop a moment and say - Its OK! I'll just pop round and pick up the spare key and let myself back in. Then you can feel very smug at your genius foresight for thinking ahead and arranging that spare key for yourself. Didn't need to pay for a locksmith.
Why not the same for your computer? Your password is like your front door key. Ever had one of those "off" days when your password just dissolves into the ether in your head? You think you know it but it just isn't working and the more you try the more panicky you get - the worse it gets.
It doesn't have to be that way. A little planning and all the stress of the moment never need happen. In any of Windows Vista, XP or Windows 7 you can create a password reset disk. If your computer still has a floppy disk drive, you can use that if you want.
Otherwise, you can use a USB flash drive or even an SD memory card (if your computer has a port for those cards). It doesn't need to be big. It could be a really old one that you don't use any more because it is only - say - 4M capacity. You don't even need one that big.
Here's the genius trick to it. Do this ahead of time when you have a working password - preferably for an administrator account:
  1. Plug in your usb flash drive or SD memory card etc.
  2. Go to Control Panel > User Accounts and Family Safety > User Accounts > Create a password reset disk (in left hand side navigation bar)
  3. Follow the instructions to create the disk.
  4. Remove the disk and store it in a safe place (perhaps a combination safe or sealed envelope in the bottom of a filing cabinet etc.). Perhaps if you're having a bad memory day the combination safe might not be such a good idea - as you need to remember the combination.
  5. Job done - and you didn't need to buy anything or download anything (assuming you didn't pay for a new flash drive).
It will probably take about 5 minutes (max) to do this. Probably less. Time well spent when you need that disk.
The disk will work as long as it is used on the computer it was created on for the account it was created for. If you have more than one computer you will need as many disks as you have computers. Anyone can use it so keep it secure.
The day you need it you can get it out and plug it into your machine. When your manual password attempt has failed simply:
  1. Plug the reset disk into the same port as was used to create it.
  2. Click on the "Reset Password" link below the login password field.
  3. Select the correct location for the disk.
  4. Follow the instructions to create a new password.
  5. Pat yourself on the back and credit yourself with having the genius to have made that reset disk beforehand and saved yourself loads of grief and stress - for free.

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