A forgotten Windows password isn't the end of the world. You don't have to trash the computer, or even perform a dreaded factory restore. There are many ways to remove or reset a Windows password, but how quickly and easily it can be done depends on the situation.
Password reset methods differ between Microsoft and local Windows accounts. If you aren't sure which type of Windows account you have, it's simple to find out: turn on your computer and see if an email address is displayed above where you enter your password to login. If there's an email, it's a Microsoft account. If not, it's a local account.
Resetting the password for Microsoft accounts can be relatively quick and easy. Resetting local accounts, however, takes a hack or a third-party tool. Since computers preloaded with Windows 8 include a new Secure Boot and the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) boot method, using a third-party tool complicates the process further.
Resetting the password of a Microsoft account
If you have a Microsoft-based Windows 8 account, you can use Microsoft's online form to reset the password. You can complete this from another PC, or even a smartphone or tablet. Although you can find a phone number for Microsoft support, I was told when calling that they can't help with password resets; you must use their online form.
It will be easier to reset your password online if your current email address or cell phone number are saved to your Microsoft account. The online form will show you an incomplete email address and cell number you have on file. You must then confirm the full address or number and choose which one you'd like them to send the reset code to.
If you don't remember the full email address or cell number that's on file, or don't have access to them anymore, you can fill out a questionnaire including account security questions. If your information checks out, the site will help you create a new password.
Once you successfully reset your password using Microsoft's online form, you should be able to login with the new password. Your computer must be connected to the Internet to be updated with the new password.
Removing the password of a local account
Although not great from a security perspective, there are many ways to reset or remove a Windows password for local accounts without having administrative access or passing the security checks from Microsoft's online form. These methods typically include using a bootable CD, DVD or USB drive. We've already discussed this in a previous article for Windows 7 and earlier, but that particular utility doesn't apply to Windows 8.
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