Functionality: The Offline NT Password (chntpw) tool is a free console tool that allows administrators to reset Windows passwords. The software currently officially supports the 32 and 64-bit versions of Windows 7, NT, 2000, XP, Vista and Windows Server 2003 and 2008. The prerequisite is that you start the server with a live CD and access the Windows SAM can access. In our test with Windows 8 64-bit, the tool did not work, although it reported a successful password change.Password changed: User 03e8’s password was successfully changed to “TecChannel”.
Installation: Some distributions include the tool in the repositories, making it easy to install with a mouse click. However, it makes more sense to have the program with you on a bootable, portable medium. Therefore, the developers provide a bootable CD image. There is also a floppy disk edition. If you want to have the chntpw in a tool collection, you can use Parted Magic. chntpw has been on board since version 4.3.
In the repositories: Some Linux distributions offer chpwnt in the software stores.
- boot image
Floppy or CD?: The manufacturers also offer bootable media as a download.
- Boot from CD
CD output: The live CD offers few options. However, the only claim is password reset.
- SAM Suggest
Suggestion: You can quickly reach your goal using the interactive menu.
Windows user list: You can have all users listed before making a change.
- Password changed
Password changed: User 03e8’s password was successfully changed to “TecChannel”.
- Parted Magic
Tool collection: The software chpwnt is already included in Parted Magic 4.3.
Via console: Not quite as convenient as with the boot CD, but included in a complete tool collection.
Service: As already mentioned, chntpw is a console tool. Therefore, the operation is quickly explained:
chntpw [Optionen] <SAM-Datei>. The -l option initially allows all users contained in the SAM file to be displayed. Use -u to reset a specific user’s password. By default, chntpw changes the administrator password. The -i switch gives you an interactive console. First, the tool lists all users and asks which one you want to change. You can call up a simple registry editor with -e. The program provides help in the editor after entering a question mark. If you use the developer’s boot CD, a wizard will help you integrate the correct partitions. The tool suggests a path to the Windows SAM file. This suggestion should work in most cases. Working with the boot CD is also a bit more pleasant, since you don’t have to type in any console commands, but can carry out actions interactively. Incidentally, you can also use the tool to promote a normal user to administrator status.
Conclusion: You really shouldn’t need the chpwnt tool very often. However, one or the other administrator will be happy to have the free software at hand. It’s not pretty, but it works perfectly and does exactly what is asked of it. Go to pogostick.net/~pnh/ntpasswd/ to find the ISO image for a boot CD with the tool. (mja/mec)