Written by Domenic Molinaro
Published on October 22, 2021

Lost your Windows password?

A lost Windows password limits access to your account and threatens the security of information stored on your Windows device. That’s why it’s critical to retrieve or reset forgotten passwords as soon as possible. Then, if someone discovers your password, they can’t lock you out of your account or access your personal information.

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    Passwords are valuable commodities on the data market. If you ever get a notification from Microsoft about suspicious activity on your account, it may be a red flag that a hacker is on your password’s trail.

    As if lost computer passwords aren’t annoying enough, the Windows password recovery process can be very frustrating — you’ll need to provide emails, account IDs, phone numbers, security questions, and other details that you may have also forgotten. We’re here to walk you through every method of finding a lost password for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, or 10.

    Use the Microsoft Windows password reset tool

    If you’re on Windows 10 or Windows 8 and can’t remember your Windows password, Microsoft can help you with their password reset tool. This only works if you’re using a Microsoft account.

    Here’s how to reset your Windows account password on Windows 10 or 8 using the Microsoft Windows password reset tool:

    1. Go to Microsoft’s account recovery page.

    2. Enter the email, phone number, or Skype ID connected to your Microsoft account.

      Microsoft's Password reset tool homepage
    3. Choose how you want to get your one-time security code, using either the alternate phone number or email you used when signing up. Microsoft will send the password reset code there.

      Verifying identity by selecting either an email or a phone number in Microsoft's password reset tool
    4. Find the one-time code in your email or text message and enter the code.

      Choosing a new password in Microsoft's password reset tool
    5. Choose a new password and enter it twice to reset your password.

    That should let you start fresh if you forgot your Windows login password. If you’re worried about forgetting it again, check out our tips on how to create a strong password you won’t forget. If you can’t remember the alternate email or phone number attached to your Windows account, you’ll have to go through additional processes.

    Get an administrator to change the password

    Microsoft system administrators can change or recover your Windows passwords. If you’ve forgotten the password at work, ask an administrator for password recovery — retrieving login information is part of their job. You or someone else in your family may be the administrator of your Windows 10 account and not know it.

    Here’s how to change your password as an administrator on Windows 10:

    1. Press the Windows logo key + X.

    2. Click Windows PowerShell (Admin).

      Highlighting Windows PowerShell (Admin) in the Windows 10 Quick Access menu
    3. Type in net user (your username) (your new password) and press Enter. For example, if your username is AVGisCool2021 and you want your new password to be !<3W@ff!e$, type net user AVGisCool2021 !<3W@ff!e$.

      The Windows 10 PowerShell

    That’s how to change any user’s Windows password as an administrator. If you’re not the administrator of your family’s Windows account, ask the person who is to change your password for you. You can change who has administrator privileges through the Windows 10 account settings.

    Retrieve Windows 10 password with “other” sign in options

    If you set up a PIN or picture password when you set up your Windows account, you can use them to recover your Windows password. A PIN for Windows 10 is just a four-digit number, like what you might use for your bank card. A picture password lets you log in by performing three gestures on a picture of your choice. This only works on Windows 10.

    Here’s how to find a password on Windows with a PIN or a picture password:

    1. Log in with your PIN or picture password.

    2. Press the Windows logo key + X to open the quick access menu.

    3. Click Windows Powershell (Admin).

      Selecting Windows PowerShell (Admin) in the Windows quick access menu
    4. Type net user to list all the users on the left-hand side.

      Typing "net user" in Windows PowerShell
    5. Type net user USERNAME * with USERNAME representing the user whose password you want to change, and press Enter.

      typing a new password for a user in Windows PowerShell
    6. Type your new password and press Enter.

    7. Type your new password again to confirm, and press Enter again.

    That’s how to retrieve passwords on Windows 10 after logging in with a PIN or picture password.

    Use Windows password reset disk or USB

    If you’ve already set up a password reset disk, retrieving your Windows password is a cinch. A password reset disk creates a “master key” (usually kept on a USB) for your account that lets you reset your password after inserting it into your computer. A password reset disk only works on the computer it was created on.

    Here’s how to recover your Windows password using your password reset disk or USB:

    1. Insert the device with your password reset disk into your PC.

    2. On the login screen, click Reset password to trigger the Password Reset Wizard. You can also trigger the password reset option by entering an incorrect password first.

    3. Click Next.

    4. Click the dropdown menu.

    5. Click the device holding your password reset disk.

    6. Click Next.

    7. Enter a new password.

    8. Enter the new password again.

    9. Click Finish.

    That’s all it takes to reset a password through a password reset disk. This method only works if you already have a password reset disk, so set one up if you want to avoid password headaches in the future. Since a password reset disk lets you reset your password easily, make sure you keep it in a safe place and away from dangerous hackers.

    Use Windows password recovery tools

    Windows password recovery tools are programs unaffiliated with Microsoft that let you reset your Windows password. Since they are not official password recovery tools from Microsoft, you should use them with caution.

    Here are two of the best Windows password recovery tools:

    Lazesoft’s Recover My Password

    Recover My Password from Lazesoft is as simple as its name suggests. You can reset your admin password with the free version, and that’s about it. After resetting the admin password, you can reset your other passwords too.

    If you are locked out of your Windows account, download the program from another computer onto a CD or a USB disk. Then insert the CD or disk into your locked computer and follow the prompts from Lazesoft. Recover My Password supports Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.1, and 10, and is one of your best bets for a free Windows password reset.

    Trinity Rescue Kit

    Trinity Rescue Kit is a simple, free program that lets you reset your password from a CD or a USB. Trinity Rescue bills itself as a repair and recovery tool, but it’s most popular utility is resetting passwords. Trinity Rescue Kit is also tiny and won’t leave a footprint on your PC.

    Though convenient for good samaritans who have forgotten their password, these password resetting tools also let anyone with a little hacking know-how get into your computer. If you’re worried about sensitive information on your PC, learn how to password protect your Excel, Word, and Powerpoint files for Windows.

    If all else fails, reset your device

    Resetting your device is a last resort if you can’t get into your account any other way. Be advised that resetting will permanently delete all data, programs, and settings.

    Here’s how to reset your Windows device:

    1. Press and hold the Shift key.

    2. Click on the Windows logo or press the Win key to open the Start Menu.

      Highlighting the WIndows logo in Windows 10
    3. Press the Power button while continuing to hold Shift.

      Highlighting the Power button in the Windows 10 Start Menu
    4. Press Restart while continuing to hold Shift. Wait until the Choose an option screen comes up.

      Highlighting the Restart option in the Windows 10 Start Menu
    5. Click Troubleshoot.

      The "Choose an option" Windows troubleshooting screen
    6. Click Reset this PC.

      The Troubleshoot menu in Windows 10
    7. Select Remove Everything.

      Choosing to reset a Windows PC

    A truly lost Windows password may require a full reset to return access to your PC. So you should periodically back up your files in case such a situation comes up. Then, after you reset your PC, you can restore your saved files. You can even recover deleted files from Windows that you thought were lost.

    Top tips to remember your Windows password

    Many people can’t remember their Windows password all the time. Rather than use simple passwords or writing your password down, try these tips instead:

    • Take a break

      Trying hard to remember a password can make it even harder to remember. Step away and try again later to recall your password — it may come to you as soon as you stop trying to remember it.

    • Give your password a story

      Humans are natural storytellers, and we remember story details well. The password FFwitMF2eftBBW might seem like nonsense, but it’s easy to remember how “Friendly Fox went into the Magic Forest to (2) escape from the Big Bad Wolf.” It’s both strong and memorable.

    • Use a passphrase

      Rather than use a password, use a passphrase instead. It’s a string of unrelated words that, when linked together, form your password. Using a passphrase is one of the best ways to create a strong password you won’t forget.

    Remembering all your different passwords is hard, which is why using a password manager is so helpful. Choose a password manager with the feature set and pricing model that fits your digital lifestyle. While you’re at it, activate two-factor authentication wherever you can. It’ll prevent anyone who gets your passwords from using them.

    Protect your passwords with AVG BreachGuard

    Data breaches are big business these days — tech companies leak private details by accident and password thieves work around the clock to steal them on purpose. AVG BreachGuard patrols the web 24/7 in case your info ever leaks. You don’t have to worry about recovering Windows passwords if they stay safe in the first place.

    AVG BreachGuard safeguards your passwords and tells you if a site you use has been hacked. And it even sends warnings to companies trying to collect your data. Take back your privacy today with a personal security tool — keep clear of password poachers with AVG BreachGuard.

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    Domenic Molinaro