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Another installment of ‘Dear Windows Advisor.’

Years ago, I wrote a column for the now-defunct Computer Currents magazine entitled “Quick Tips and Fixes,” wherein I attempted to answer reader’s questions about problems they were having with their PCs. Though that column is long gone, I still get questions about working with Windows and occasionally like to take time out in my column to answer them.

And the Password is…

I set up an administrative password in Windows XP but now I’ve forgotten what it is. I don’t want to have to reinstall the operating system if I can help it. Is there any way to reset this?

Sarah Anderson

San Francisco

Passwords are almost as annoying as they are useful. Unfortunately, in today’s age of viruses and ad ware, they’re a necessity. That said, your dilemma is fairly easy to resolve. In fact, there are a number of actions you can take to reset your password.

Microsoft outlines two of them here: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=321305

However, they assume that you have access to a password reset disc or can logon through another account. If you don’t have access to just such a disc or another account on your PC, there’s still a way.

1. Place your original Windows XP CD in your CD-ROM and start your computer (It should boot from the CD. If it doesn’t, make sure your bios is set to allow this.)

2. When the words “Welcome to Setup” appear on the screen, press ENTER to “Setup Windows now”

3. Press F8 to accept the licensing agreement.

4. The setup screen should now display. There should be an option to do a system repair. It should read something like “If one of the following Windows XP installations is damaged, Setup can try to repair it”

5. Use the up and down arrow keys to select your XP installation (if you only have one, it should already be selected) and press R to begin the Repair process.

6. Let the Repair run. Setup will now check your disks and then start copying files, which can take several minutes.

7. As soon as the copying is finished, you’ll be prompted to reboot. As the system reboots, do not “press any key to boot from the CD again.” Setup will resume automatically with the standard screen with “Installing Windows” highlighted.

8. When you see the “installing devices” progress bar, press SHIFT + F10.

9. A command console will now open up. At the prompt, type NUSRMGR.CPL and press Enter. You should be presented with a list of Windows XP accounts.

10. Pick the user whose password you want to change. If you want to log on without a password, just type control userpasswords2 at the prompt. After you’ve made your changes close the windows, exit the command box and continue on with the Repair (have your Product key handy).

11. Once the Repair is done, you will be able to log on with your new password (or without a password if you chose not to use one or if you chose not to be asked for a password). Your programs and personalized settings should remain intact.

12. Now go create your

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