I was given by my work an old Dell Optiplex. I did ask the administrator what the password was but he can't remember. when you turn the machine on you eventually arrive at a screen which asks you to give ctrl-alt-delete which then results in the log on screen. The details (user/department name) are now irrelevant and the network on which it would log on are changed too/no longer in existance. I would like to use this old machine as a standalone for simple tasks, but can't get in. I've tried to find administrator password via ophcrack but couldn't see anything. I can boot up the machine with something other than windows (linux via cd). where would I be able to change settings, which file, or even ditch it and then boot into xp again with the possibility to set up user accounts etc from windows. your help would be very much appreciated

  • 2
    I would just reinstall the operating system. You have the license and likely have access to installation media.
    – Ramhound
    Jun 26, 2013 at 19:10
  • superuser.com/questions/552189/…
    – STTR
    Jun 26, 2013 at 19:59
  • @STTR: MDOP/DaRT is not available for free to end users.
    – Karan
    Jun 27, 2013 at 1:29
  • @Karan rename %windir%\system32\config\SAM ? at Window 7 or live-CD?
    – STTR
    Jun 27, 2013 at 1:42
  • @Karan dotpod.com.ar/… CIA Commander
    – STTR
    Jun 27, 2013 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


Your best option is to reinstall Windows from scratch. It sounds like they didn't wipe the drive clean, so even if you were able to get into it, you'd still have remnants of the old system in there (Installed programs, registry keys, etc.) If you were to reinstall Windows, using a license key on a sticker which should be somewhere on the box, than it would be fresh and only have what you need/want on it.

It would also bypass your need to try and crack the account.

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    Even assuming the OP has access to Windows install media, which seems a bold assumption, odds are any Windows license key on the machine will be an OEM or volume license key, which will not work with retail install media. Jun 26, 2013 at 20:02
  • Correct, but the OEM install media is easy to come by, just about anybody that has bought a computer has OEM disks laying around. It's not that far-fetched of an assumption, especially since the OP seems to be proficient enough to have Linux install media and password cracking utilities.
    – Taegost
    Jun 26, 2013 at 20:22
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    Not to mention it takes all of 5 minutes to located windows XP ISOs online. Nothing illegal about those because you need a key to activate it anyway. Jun 26, 2013 at 20:23
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    @LeeHarrison I wouldn't have thought downloading install media was kosher, but I suppose that, as you point out, it's the license key that counts, there wouldn't be anything really to worry about, would there? Jun 26, 2013 at 20:41
  • @LeeHarrison: I don't see any legal MS-approved download links for XP, unlike for Win7. Downloading from dodgy sites, torrents etc. may or may not be legal depending on your jurisdiction, so you can't really generalise.
    – Karan
    Jun 27, 2013 at 1:37

It's set up to connect to a domain. Press Ctrl+Delete to select more options. Select to log onto the machine, not the domain; try to login as “administrator” with no password. Or ask the domain administrator to login in with the domain admin details. This should automatically be set to have admin rights. You can then add a new (local) user with admin access.


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