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Dated: May. 17, 2012

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Windows 7

Overview of Password Reset Disk

A password reset disk is removable media (mostly the floppy disk) that stores a file that is used to reset the passwords of the user accounts in the operating systems in case users forget them. Creation of a password reset disk is a one-time process and the reset disks can be used multiple times. If users try to create another password reset disk, the older reset disk becomes invalid and therefore it becomes unusable. Nowadays, since floppy disks do not exist anymore, Microsoft Windows 7 and above operating systems allow users to use the USB drives to create password reset disks. In almost all production environments, password reset disks play an important role as they can make the user account and the data it contains vulnerable to risks. This is the only reason why in production environments password reset disks are always kept at secured locations.

Timestamps and Validity of Password Reset Disks

When a password reset disk is created, the file that is saved in the removable media contains a timestamp that has the date and time at which the reset disk was created. The created password reset disk remains valid forever, until another password reset disk for the same user account is created. When a second password reset disk is created for a user account, Windows creates a new timestamp and saves it in the configuration file of the removable media. When a user tries to use the password reset disk, Windows compares the timestamp of the disk with the timestamp stored in the operating system. In case the user tries to use old password reset disk, the timestamp on the disk remains unmatched with the timestamp stored in the computer and therefore the password reset disk fails to reset the password. On the other hand, when the latest password reset disk is used to reset the password, the timestamp on the reset disk matches with the timestamp stored in the computer for that particular user account and therefore Windows allows the user to reset the password.

Data Encryption and Password Reset Disks

If users encrypt their data using Encrypting File System (EFS), the encrypted data can only be decrypted using the keys for that user account only. In such cases if an administrator tries to reset password forcefully using its administrator powers, all the encrypted information automatically becomes invalid and the data gets inaccessible. This is a security feature that prevents even administrators from accessing sensitive information that they must not. In order to keep the encrypted files unaffected while resetting the passwords, users must use password reset disks.

Creating a Password Reset Disk

Since creating a password reset disk is a user specific process, no elevated privileges are required to perform the task. A password reset disk can be created for the logged on user account only. In order to create a password reset disk, steps given below must be followed:

Forgotten Password Wizard

  1. Log on to Windows 7 computer.
  2. Insert a blank floppy disk in the floppy disk drive.
  3. Click Start and from the menu click Control Panel.
  4. On the opened window click User Accounts and Family Safety and from the next window click User Accounts.
  5. On Make changes to your user account window, from the left pane click Create a password reset disk.
  6. On Welcome to the Forgotten Password Wizard window click Next.
  7. On the next window make sure Floppy Disk option is selected from the drop-down list and click Next.
  8. On Current User Account Password window in the available field type the current password for the user account and click Next.
  9. On Creating Password Reset Disk window wait till the process reaches to 100% and once completed, click Next.
  10. On Completing the Forgotten Password Wizard window click Finish button.

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satya's Comment
good work
30 Tue Oct 2012
Admin's Reply:

Thanks Satya.

Ahmed Mohammed Azare's Comment
Very useful and enlightened.
15 Sun Jul 2012
Admin's Reply:

Thanks Ahmed.