Ever feel the anguish of having something your need or want so close yet you can’t get to it?
Today I did. I forgot the password to the only user on my three-weeks old laptop. Forgot as in no way to remember it, and the hint didn’t help either. I am sure it’s not one of my regular ones because I was trying to be cute and came up with a new word.
And it so happen that in MS-Windows world, if you don’t have administrator account enabled, and you forgot your user password, you’re toast. I guess its the same thing with UNIX as well, except in UNIX, you will always have a root (same as administrator) user account.
My help came from a rather weird source. Youtube. Where a lot of people apparently had solved the same problem. Most of them are .iso files which can be burned into a CD-RW and you boot into the CD instead of the hard drive. Ironically almost all of them are built around some kind of Linux distribution.
I tried one called Ophcrack which attempted to actually decode the Windows password hash. Of course after cranking the CPU to 100% for 15 minutes, it failed to retrieve my password. I didn’t say I came up with weak passwords
Finally I tried what’s called the Trinity Rescue Kit (just google it, it’s better than my linking to a website that may not be there when you needed it). A 149MB .iso files which I burned into a CD-RW disc. It gave me a command prompt after booting on my laptop.
I proceeded to type:
winpass -u [my_username] and I was presented with a couple of options, one of which is to clear the password. I selected it and less than one second later it announced that my password has been cleared. Holding my breath, I issued shutdown -r now and waited.
And Voila! my laptop booted right into the account without asking for the password. Whew! that was a relief.
NOTE: Had I been able to enable the administrator account, I may have been spared from this exercise, but as I found out later, my version of Windows 7 that came with the laptop does not provide a way to enable the administrator account. Strange!
So my thanks to those ‘White Hat’-hackers who wrote the winpass utility and to those distro-jockeys who made it available in the .iso format.
And this time I remembered to create a password reset usb-keychain drive. Without it, I’d be repeating this story all over again.