How to Edit your Windows Password with Ubuntu Live CD

As a Windows user, you may know that you can create a password reset disk with the built-in option. If you ever forget your Windows admin or user password, you can use this to reset it and bypass this security feature. Of course, if you’ve only forgotten the user password then you can reset that using your admin account. But what if you don’t have admin access and you’ve forgotten your password? What do you do in such a case?

One way to edit a Windows password is with a Linux Live CD. The Ubuntu Live CD method is fairly simple to execute, and you don’t need in-depth knowledge of coding or programming to get the job done.

What is a Linux Live CD?

Live CD is essentially a complete bootable installation that includes the OS, but boots from the CD instead of the hard drive. The uses are many, including malware removal, data recovery, system recovery, computer forensics and so on. Fortunately, it is also very useful as a Windows password recovery utility. The Linux distribution version of the Live CD is what we’re talking about here.

How to Edit Windows Password with Ubuntu Linux Live CD

Step 1: Download Ubuntu and Create the Ubuntu Live CD

The first thing you’ll need to do is to download Ubuntu and create a bootable Ubuntu Live CD, which you can burn using any bootable media burning software. You can also use the Universal USB Installer aka UUI to create a bootable USB drive, but in this article, we’ll focus on using an Ubuntu Live CD.

Step 2: Reboot your PC with the Ubuntu Live CD

The next step is to boot up your PC, but instead of the hard drive, what you want to do is get to the BIOS menu so you can choose CD/DVD as the initial boot option. There will be a pre-defined key you’ll need to press to get to that menu – usually one of the function keys or the escape key.

Step 3: Install chntpw with the Synaptic Package Manager

Chntpw is the program that’s going to let you edit your Windows password. To access it, go to System >> Administration >> Synaptic Package Manager. In the Synaptic Package Manager menu, go to Settings >> Repositories >> Universal. In the window that opens, check the box that says “Community-maintained Open Source software (universe)” and close the window. You then have to reload the software list, quick-search for “chntpw” and check the box that says “Mark for Installation” and click on “Apply.” The chntpw installation is now done.

Step 4: Use chntpw to Edit your Windows Password

Before you use chntpw, you will need to mount the drive on which the Windows installation resides. In Ubuntu, click on “Places” and select the appropriate drive (the one with the WINDOWS folder in it.) Now make a note of the drive label that appears on the menu bar of the file browser when you open the correct drive.

Now open the terminal by going to Applications > Accessories > Terminal. In the terminal, type in “cd /media” (without the quote marks) and hit Enter. Now type “ls”, again without the quotes and hit Enter again. What you’ll see is strings of characters, one of which will match the label you noted down. Now type in “cd <hard drive label>” (without quotes, and put in the label.)

Next, type in this command: cd WINDOWS/system32/config/

This will take you to the specific Windows directory, where you must now type “sudo chntpw SAM” (without quotes.) This will now let you edit your admin password. To edit a user account password, type “sudo chntpw –u <username> SAM” (no quotes.)

When you see the prompt that gives you the User Edit Menu, choose option 2, which will let you edit the password. Now type in the new password and type “y” (no quotes.)

As you can see, the process looks a little complicated, but if you follow the instructions exactly as they’ve been described above, you should be able to edit your Windows password in no time. However, if you prefer an easier solution, you can use third-party programs with GUI like TunesBro WinGeeker Ultimate, which only takes a few clicks to remove Windows user and admin password.

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