What’s the Password Reset Disk in Windows XP?

What is the Windows XP Password Reset Disk and how can I use it?
To protect user accounts in the event that the user forgets the password, every local user should make a password reset disk and keep it in a safe place. Then, if the user forgets his or her password, the password can be reset using the password reset disk and the user is able to access the local user account again.
The Forgotten Password Wizard lets you create a password reset disk that you can use to recover your user account and personalized computer settings if you forget your password.

How to create the password reset disk

The steps to perform this task differ depending on whether your computer is a member of a network domain or is part of a workgroup (or is a stand-alone computer).
If you’re using Windows XP in a workgroup (and not in a domain), you have the option to create a password reset disk.

  1. To create the password reset disk go to the Start menu, Control Panel, User Accounts.
  2. Click your account name.
  3. Under Related Tasks located on the left side of the window, click Prevent a forgotten password.
  4. In the Forgotten Password Wizard, follow the instructions as they appear on the screen.
  5. When the wizard starts, click Next.
  6. Select the drive that contains the media you want to create the information on (you can use a diskette or a Zip disk), and click Next.
  7. Type your current password, and click Next.
  8. Click Finish.

The password reset disk contains only one file called userkey.psw, which is an encrypted version of your password. If you change your password, the password reset disk is useless, you must repeat this procedure.

How to use the password reset disk

If you made a password reset disk for your local user account through the Forgotten Password Wizard, you can use it to access the computer, even if you have forgotten your password. The following steps will only work if you are in a workgroup environment, using the Welcome screen.

  1. At the Welcome screen, click your user name, and then type your password. If you have forgotten your password, the Did you forget your password message is displayed.
  2. Click use your password reset disk to start the Password Reset Wizard.
  3. Follow the instructions in the Password Reset Wizard to create a new password.
  4. Log on with the new password, and then store your password reset disk in a safe place in case you need it to reset your password in the future. You do not need to make a new password reset disk.

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HOW TO: Create and Use a Password Reset Disk for a Computer That Is Not a Domain Member in Windows XP – 305478