How to reset a forgotten server admin password…

A few weeks ago, we had a call from a business who’s IT support company had gone AWOL.

This left the business with a server they were unable to access – you see, the IT support company hadn’t provided their customer with any passwords or documentation for their server.


So, when we got the call, the company I work for did as any good IT support business would…  we donned our superhero capes and got stuck in….


Here’s how you do it:

Boot from a Windows server boot CD

Boot from a Windows server boot CD (that matches the OS).

Press any key to start from the CD and wait for the Windows 2012 installation to start.

At the following screen, press next


The next screen show you the option to install the server, DO NOT CLICK THAT!


At the left bottom of the screen. Click on “Repair your computer”.

You will now be taken to the Repair section of Windows.

Click on Troubleshoot.

We’ve now come to the Advanced options screen.

Click Command Prompt


The command prompt opens… with X:\Sources.

Your Windows installation is now secondary so you will have to change to D:\Windows\System32 to get to the system files.


When you are in D:\Windows\System32 you have to execute the following commands.



Press Y when asked to replace the file.

Type exit and reboot the server.


Changing the password

Start the server normally and wait for the logon screen.


After you see the welcome screen, you hit the Windows key and press “U”


In that command box you can enter the following command to reset the administrator password:

NET USER Administrator newpassword

(Where newpassword is the password you want to use)

You’ve just changed the Administrator password.

Logon and confirm that the password reset has worked.


Changing the files back

Reboot the server and once again boot off the Windows install DVD.

Again, select Troubleshoot and the Command Prompt.

Change Directory to D:\Windows\System32


Enter the following:



Check that both cmd.exe and utilman.exe exist

Type dir | more

Use space to page down, enter to scroll by one line.

Give your server another reboot and confirm everything is working as expected.


Congratulations,  you’ve saved the day!!!  Go make yourself a brew, you deserve it.

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