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We have found a old notebook in company and are unable to identify who is the previous user. We don't have the user password. We've try all possible password for the administrator but doesn't work.

I am thinking, can we boot up the machine with a linux disc?

If it is possible, maybe we can have a look in the drive and check the files for any clue of its previous user?

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Unless you believe it has important information you can probably just reformat and reinstall a new OS on it. – Keith Jun 16 '12 at 6:01
up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is perfectly possible assuming that the drive isn't encrypted.

The other alternative is to take the drive out of the machine, put it into a drive caddy and attach it to another computer. Make sure you have Autorun turned off so that Windows doesn't try to execute anything.

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Yes - you'd likely be able to get access with konboot or the offline password change cd if you don't have full disk encryption or EFS.

If you have EFS, you could crack the password with ophcrack.

Alternately, the NTFS implimentation most livecds have will just ignore the permissions on windows.

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Just download any recent Linux live iso. Either burn the iso-image on a CD-ROM or put it on a USB thumbdrive. Take e.g. Knoppix or Ubuntu (live usable version is called "desktop" edition). UNetbootin might come in handy to download a distribution and create the bootable USB drive on the fly.

Call me paranoid, but I wouldn't recommend the approach of inserting the notebook's drive into an other computer: do not trust unlabeled drives - they might contain malicious files!

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They often do. But most people performing recovery operation [should] know better and use a safe PC, with no autorun, up to date everything and would use a full disk virus scan as one of the first acts. – Hennes Jun 15 '12 at 12:04
@Hennes +1 for the "should know" in your comment. – fheub Jul 6 '12 at 6:39

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