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I have a computer from a friend that I would like to mess around with but before I do anything with it, I need to get some files off of it for the friend. There is a user password on the account and I can't seem to get past it. My first thought was jumpering the hard drive but I cannot find any information for how to set the jumpers to do so. The hard drive is an IBM Deskstar 30.7GB. Next, I tried booting into Safe Mode. After selecting Safe Mode and selecting the OS from the list, it filled the screen with a list of file paths and then just sat there with the list displayed. It would not actually boot into Safe Mode. FYI, it is an older Gateway computer that came loaded with Windows ME but has since been updated to Windows XP. Also, as of yesterday the previous owner is in the hospital, thus I am unable to get the password from him. So... Any thoughts/suggestions? Am I missing something here?

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Use a linux live CD, boot to the CD and then copy the files off it from there to a USB drive. That's the simplest method.

Or you could use Ophcrack to get the password, which also has a live CD.

Or you could rip out the HDD and mount it in a separate computer.

Don't forget to back up the HDD to a disk image, so that if you really screw up then you can restore to that disk image. Here is a list of available disk imaging software. I prefer Acronis.

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smacks forehead on keyboard @Nitrodist: I knew about some of these, but had forgotten...great answer! +1! – studiohack Aug 22 '10 at 0:01

How about Offline NT Password & Registry Editor? You can simply change the password on the account and log in.

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It's now – Nitrodist Aug 22 '10 at 1:56

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