My experience regaining Admin access on a Windows PC with a forgotten Admin password
The PC in question was running on Windows 10 with two accounts, one with administrator permissions and the other with guest permissions. The client had forgotten the password to the Admin account so actions were restricted. Every time the client tried to carry out specific activities from the guest account, there was a User Access Control (UAC) prompt with a missing yes button.
This was how I knew that it was a guest account. The ‘Family and others’ option was also missing in the Control Panel.
At this juncture, I had two options:
- Reinstall Window 10
- Find a way to regain Admin access on the PC
The problem with reinstalling Windows was the loss of programs and settings so this became plan B.
Regaining Admin Access On The PC
First I created a portable version of Windows 10 on a USB storage device. Next, I powered off the PC and got it into BIOS (you keep tapping F10 after pressing the power button). While in BIOS, I changed the boot order by placing USB devices at the top, then I saved and shut down.
Next up I connected the USB flash drive to the PC and powered it up. This got me into the Windows Setup screen. From this point, plan B seemed feasible at least.
I clicked Next and instead of clicking Install Now, I clicked Repair your computer. At the Choose an option screen, I clicked Troubleshoot. Under Advanced options, I clicked Command Prompt.
While in the command prompt, I ran
The plan was to add an admin user using the net commands so I ran the following commands
net start workstation net user /add Hovatek justabuttonaway net localgroup users hovatek /add net localgroup administrators hovatek /add exit
What I’d tried to do with the above commands was to create a user named Hovatek with a password justabuttonaway then add the user to both users and administrator local groups.
After rebooting the PC to the login screen, I couldn’t find a user named Hovatek. I had to use a different approach.
Escalating from Guest to Administrator account type
Back in the command prompt, I ran the following commands
c: cd windows cd system32 ren utilman.exe utilman2.exe copy cmd.exe utilman.exe exit
After rebooting into the login screen, I clicked the ease of access icon at the bottom right corner.
I had to click a few times before the command prompt came up. Once cmd came up, I ran the following command
This brought up User Accounts.
I clicked the Admin account but the button to reset the password was grayed out (requires Ctrl + Alt + Delete to do so). I would’ve needed the old password anyway so this was of little use. I clicked the guest account instead and then I clicked Properties. Under properties, I clicked the Group Membership tab, ticked Administrator, clicked Apply then clicked OK.
Finally, I logged into the (previously) guest account and it was now an administrator account.
I went back into BIOS and put the hard disk back on top of the list under boot order then headed to C:\Windows\System32 and renamed utilman2.exe back to utilman.exe .