Locked out of Windows
Is Windows refusing to recognise your password? Discover how to rectify the problem by resetting your password to regain access
Unfortunately, it happens to the best of us: suddenly Windows refuses to let you log on to your user account because of a lost or forgotten password. If you’ve been logging on using a PIN number, then the solution is simple: click ‘Sign-in options’ and you can elect to log in using your account password instead. Then head over to Start > Settings > Accounts > Sign-in Options to remove your PIN before setting a new one.
But what if you have forgotten your password too? Read on to discover how to reset your password enabling you to log on again. You’ll need access to another user account or computer to perform these steps.
Reset your password
Both Windows 8.1 and 10 strongly encourage you to sign on using a Microsoft account password – it’s the same as the one you use to access all Microsoft online services, from your Outlook.com email to your OneDrive account. If this is refused, then check the password on other devices, if possible, to verify that it’s your mistake and not your computer’s. Assuming you’ve forgotten your password, you can take steps to reset it.
To do this, click the link provided on the login screen or visit https://account. live.com/password/reset in another browser. Follow the wizard – enter your Microsoft account email and the required captcha text, then choose your verification option (email or text – you will need to provide your backup email address or the last four digits of your phone number) to receive a security code. Enter this into the box provided and you’ll be prompted to reset the password by setting a new one. Make sure you note this down. Once entered, you should be able to log on to your account again – your PC will need to be connected to the internet to ‘receive’ and recognise the new password.
If you don’t have a working verification option, you’ll need to answer a security questionnaire. Your answers don’t have to be exact, but you may have to wait up to 30 days to get full access to your account. Visit https:// support.microsoft.com/help/17875 for more tips on passing this test.
Reset a local password
If you’re running Windows 7, or you have opted for the ‘local’ account option in Windows 8.1 and 10, then thanks to a rather gaping hole in its security settings, it is possible to reset your local account password if you have access to another administrator-level user account on the same computer – just log on as that user, open a Command Prompt window as an administrator and type ‘net user username newpassword’, substituting ‘username’ for your username and ‘newpassword’ for your new account password.
Alternatively, you can reset your password using either a Lazesoft Recovery Suite Home boot disc (see page 18), or a Windows installation or recovery disc or drive. To create the latter on another PC, open the Backup and Restore tool, then click ‘Create a system repair disc’ if you’re still using Windows 7; or search for ‘recovery’, then click ‘Create a recovery drive’ if you’re running Windows 8.1 or 10. Untick the ‘Back up system files to the recovery drive’ box if prompted. Then click ‘Next’ to create your recovery drive, and follow the step-by-step guide opposite, which will help you reset your password.
You can reset your Microsoft account without needing any verification options.
Untick the ‘Back up system files to the recovery drive’ box to keep your recovery drive size down.