So you, er I mean “a friend”, forgot your password on a Windows Vista machine that you haven’t used in awhile. You would never forget a password, right? And now you need to get into the machine and don’t want to blast away and install Windows fresh. If you use Windows XP you can just boot into Safe Mode and use the built in administrator account, but if you’re in Vista that account has been disabled by default. Luckily there’s a tool that will help you reset that password in Windows NT and Vista. It’s called Offline NT Password & Registry Editor (pretty catchy name, eh?). Simply download the zip file containing an .iso, burn it with your favorite CD burning software, pop it in the drive and go. It will boot up a copy of linux off the CD and ask you all sorts of questions. When in doubt, hit Enter to accept the default. Before you know it, you’ll have a reset password and will be staring at your desktop again in no time. There is another way to reset Vista passwords, but it requires that you created a password reset disk before you forgot your password. You might want to do this now in case you forgot your password. There are instructions over on Microsoft’s site.
Of course all of this exposes just how easy it can be to get into a machine that’s password protected. In the end, it’s pretty safe to say that if someone has physical access to your machine, you’re just plain screwed.