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Step by Step Guide to Resetting a Windows 7 Password

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Boot From a Windows 7 Install Disc or Flash Drive
Screenshot of the Windows is loading files screen when booting from Windows 7 setup or repair media

Boot From a Windows 7 Install Disc or Flash Drive

There are a number of roads you can take when you need to hack into your own Windows 7 computer, some of which you may have already read about in my I Forgot My Windows 7 Password! Is There Anything I Can Do? article. Of them all, one of the most successful strategies is the one I'm about to walk you through here.

While this password reset procedure for Windows 7 would classify as a "hack" of sorts, there's no software to download or extraordinary computer skills required. If you can follow directions, you can reset your Windows 7 password this way.

Note: I created this step by step tutorial to accompany my original How To Reset a Windows 7 Password how-to guide. There are a number of relatively complicated steps involved in resetting your Windows 7 password this way so screenshots with very detailed instructions will make the process much easier. However, if you're familiar with executing commands, booting from portable media, and working with Windows 7 recovery tools, then you'll probably do fine with the more brief directions.

To begin, you'll need to boot from a Windows 7 Setup disc or flash drive. If you're booting from a disc, watch for the Press any key to boot from CD or DVD... or similar message and be sure to do that.

If you're watching closely, you may catch the Windows is loading files... screen shown above. If you see that, or an Install Windows screen, or a System Recovery Options screen, you're in good shape and can continue on to the next step.

Don't Have a Windows 7 Disc/Drive or Need Help Booting From One?

If you're not familiar with booting from something other than your hard drive, see my tutorials on How to Boot From a CD, DVD, or BD Disc or How to Boot From a USB Device, depending on what sort of media you're using. Most issues getting the computer to boot from a disc or flash drive instead of the hard drive and are solved by making boot order changes in BIOS. See my How to Change the Boot Order in BIOS tutorial for help with that.

If you don't have a Windows 7 disc or flash drive, it's perfectly acceptable to borrow a friend's or use one from another Windows 7 computer since you're just using it for diagnostic purposes. In other words, don't worry at all about using someone else's media - you won't be entering any product keys or invalidating yours or another computer's activation as part of this process.

Tip: A Windows 7 system repair disc will work fine for this too. If you don't have access to a Windows 7 Setup disc or flash drive, and don't already have a system repair disc, you can create one for free from any other working Windows 7 computer with an optical drive. See How to Create a Windows 7 System Repair Disc for help.

Advanced Tip: If even a system repair disc isn't an option, you may still be able to follow this tutorial for the most part using any bootable recovery media that gives you write-level access to the hard drive. This includes popular third-party bootable recovery media, installation or recovery media designed for later versions of Windows, etc.

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