Have you ever found yourself with a computer where the network login fails (and you already tried with cached credentials, disconnected from the network) and you REALLY need to get into the local administrator profile to fix something…you know how it happens… an employee left the company, was let go, or built the PC and simply forgot the local admin password?
One of my favorite bacon-saving utilities is the Offline Password & Registry Editor (some call it a password cracker) written by Peter Nordahl.
The source web site is: http://pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/ and there you will find the download, plus all of the details on what the program can do and how to use it. It works on almost all Windows versions - NT3.51 to Vista/Win7 32/64bit and 2008 server.
In a nutshell, you create a bootable media (CD/DVD or USB thumb drive) to boot the PC, watch some really Linux-y text scroll by, and then gain access to change any of the local account passwords (admin or others). It also has capabilities for editing the registry – for more advanced users.
Note that this only works for local passwords, NOT credentials in Active Directory, including the AD Restore password. (write it down next time!)
Sure, you could just rebuild the computer, or pull out the hard drive and pull the data to another device…but if you want to directly access the administrator’s profile or other local data, this a nice little utility that will take just a little work to get you in and get the admin password changed.