If you’ve forgotten your admin password in Windows, you won’t have much control. Not having access to an admin account means you can’t uninstall software, make system changes, and do other administrative tasks on your own computer.
But don’t despair—we’re here to help you. We’ll explain the Windows default admin account situation in various Windows versions and show you how to reset your admin password.
History of the Windows Administrator Account
Your first instinct when you forget your own account password might be to look for the default Windows admin password. However, in Windows Vista and later, there actually is no accessible system-wide Administrator account by default. This is a security measure to protect your computer.
Windows XP had an additional Administrator account that sat alongside your usual accounts. The problem was that most people left the password for this account blank, meaning that anyone with access to a computer and a little know-how could log into a machine with full administrator permissions.
This was even more of an issue if you used the Administrator account all the time, as any malware had free reign to do whatever it wanted.
Modern-Day Admin Accounts
Starting in Windows Vista, Microsoft disabled the built-in Admin account by default. Instead, it featured User Account Control, a feature still around in Windows 10 today. This allows you to temporarily grant admin permissions while using any account, as long as you have an admin’s password.
Thus, there’s no Windows default administrator password you can dig up for any modern versions of Windows. While you can enable the built-in Administrator account again, we recommend that you avoid doing so. That account runs with admin permissions all the time, and never asks for confirmation for sensitive actions. This makes it a bigger security risk, where malware can more easily execute.
Besides, you need admin permissions to enable the default Administrator account, meaning that it’s not a solution if you forgot your own admin password. Instead, let’s look at how to reset an admin password in Windows 10, 8, and 7.
Forgot Admin Password in Windows 10
In Windows 10, you have two options for your user account. You can either sign in with a Microsoft account, or use an old-school local account that exists only on your PC.
If you use a Microsoft account, it’s easy to reset your password. Head to Microsoft’s account recovery page and walk through the steps to get back into your account. This is easiest if you’re set up the proper recovery methods, such as a backup email address and phone number.
Those who use a local account will have a harder time resetting their password. In Windows 10 version 1803 and later, you can add security questions to your local account to help you get back in if needed (see Settings > Accounts > Sign-in options). But if you haven’t set these up, you’ll have to go through a somewhat tedious workaround process.
You’ll find everything you need to know about this in our guide to resetting your lost Windows 10 password.
Forgot Administrator Password in Windows 8
The situation with Windows 8.1 is very similar to Windows 10. Windows 8 was the first OS version to support signing in with a Microsoft account. If you sign in with your Microsoft account and have forgotten that password, you can recover it using the Microsoft password reset page as above.
Users with local accounts will need to pursue the workaround method linked above to reset their password. Windows 8.1 does not have support for security questions, so this isn’t an option for resetting a local account password. It will take a bit of time, but it’s your best bet assuming you don’t want to reset your entire system.
Reset Admin Password in Windows 7
As you might expect, Windows 7 offers the least amount of options for resetting a lost password. Because there’s no support for Microsoft accounts, you’re stuck resetting your local account manually.
In addition to the main method (replacing the Ease of Access shortcut) described in the earlier guide, you might pursue some other ways to reset your forgotten admin password.
Other Methods to Reset Windows Passwords
We’ve looked at the best solutions to reset a forgotten admin password in each current version of Windows. However, there are some other methods you should know about.
Use a Password Reset Disk
Every Windows version supports the creation of password reset disks. These allow you to set up a flash drive to act as a backup key to unlock your account. Because you need to set them up before you get locked out, we didn’t mention them above.
However, once you’ve recovered your account, it’s a good idea to make a password reset disk so you don’t have to jump through hoops in the future. To do this, first connect a removable device to your PC, like a USB flash drive. Then search for password reset in the Start Menu and you should see a Create a password reset disk entry.
Select this, then walk through the steps to create the drive. You’ll need your current account password to complete this.
Once you have this, you should keep it safe. Anyone with access to the reset disk could use it to get into your account, so make sure you don’t let it fall into the wrong hands.
Try Password Cracking Software
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
As a last resort, you can try using a tool designed to crack passwords. Ophcrack is one well-known utility.
However, there’s no guarantee that this will work. The software is much more efficient at cracking Windows XP passwords. Its Live CD version is designed for Windows Vista and 7; it doesn’t mention Windows 10, so support may be unofficial.
Additionally, the rainbow tables used to crack passwords in this way are better for breaking short, weak passwords. If your admin password is long and complex, it could take ages to recover with this method.
If you can’t crack your password, the next best solution is removing it altogether. Unfortunately, most tools for this are outdated and don’t support Windows 10, or cost money.
That being said, if you’re on Windows 8.1 or earlier, Offline NT Password And Registry Editor is worth a try. It will remove an account password for you, so you can set a new one. Just note that doing this will result in you losing access to any files you encrypted using Windows.
You’ll find a lot of software advertising the ability to crack your password or remove it for a fee. If the free tools and methods fail, it’s up to you whether you think these are worth it.
Beyond the Default Administrator Password in Windows
We’ve taken a look at the default Windows admin password across versions, along with how to recover your password on Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7. Chances are that one of the above methods will work for you, and you’ll be able to regain admin privileges on your own PC.
For more on Windows account security, see our breakdown of User Account Control and admin rights on Windows 10.
Read the full article: Lost Your Windows Administrator Password? Here’s How to Fix It