29 November, 2013

Resetting (local) Windows 2008 and 2012 Administrator password

Although not a actual virtualization topic, I think it's something a lot of Admin's have to deal with every now and then. For me it's occasionally when working with templates of Windows server based VM's, when they are created a long time ago some Admin's just tend to forget what local administrator password was used. Because it is usually changed after a VM has been deployed to a different password.
When you then need to work on such a template for some reason you will get stuck when you do not remember the password. In the past I used the "Offline NT Password & Registry Editor" to reset the administrator password, but recently a Admin at a customer informed me there was a other way to reset the password and this way would also work on Windows server 2012.

You need to have the Windows server install dvd, or if you're like me into virtualization a ISO of that dvd. For both Windows server versions you need to go to the "Repair your computer" option on the Setup menu after booting the VM (if it's a template, first convert to VM) from this dvd.

After selecting this you need to select the OS instance you want to repair in the "System Recovery Options". Next select "Command Prompt". Once you are in the command prompt you need to go to the disk that holds the system32 folder, default this is C:
Then run the following commands:

  • cd windows\system32
  • ren Utilman.exe Utilman.exe.old
  • copy cmd.exe Utilman.exe
After reboot the server (not from dvd!). At the logon screen press Windows-key + U this will open a command prompt.
Now run the following command "net user administrator Password" where password stands for you the password of your choice. After closing the command prompt you will be able to login to the server as local administrator with the password you previously entered.

You're able to logon again but you are not completely done yet, there is some clean-up to be done.

Again boot your VM from the Windows server dvd and follow the previous mentioned steps to get to the Command Prompt and go to the disk that holds the system32 folder.

  • cd windows\system32
  • ren utilman.exe utilman.exe.new
  • copy utilman.exe.old utilman.exe
When finished close the Command prompt and click "Continue" now you're VM should be running as it should and you should be able to logon as local administrator.

If it was a template do not forget to convert your VM back to a template. And store the local administrator password in some sort of password-vault !

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