How To Change Passwords Programmatically in Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP

Article translations Article translations
Article ID: 151546 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q151546
Expand all | Collapse all

On This Page

SUMMARY

This article describes how to change passwords on accounts in Microsoft Windows NT, Windows 2000, or Windows XP programmatically. Net function calls are used to accomplish this task.

NOTE: To change passwords on Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows Millennium Edition, please follow the instructions in Microsoft Knowledge Base article
177200 How To Programmatically Change Network Password Under Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Me

MORE INFORMATION

There are several considerations that apply to changing passwords:
  • For ADSI capable NT Workstations and Servers ADSI is an additional method of that changing a user's password that may be simpler especially From Visual Basic applications. For form information on using ADSI to change a user's password see IADsUser::SetPassword and IADsUser::ChangePassword in the Windows Platform SDK.
  • Net function calls are Unicode only. All strings passed to and returned by these functions are in Unicode form.
  • When targeting a domain controller for account update operations, be sure to target the primary domain controller for the domain. The account settings are replicated by the primary domain controller to each backup domain controller as appropriate. The NetGetDCName() function call can be used to get the primary domain controller computer name from a domain name.
  • If the caller is an administrator or account operator on the target machine/domain, the NetUserSetInfo() function call at info-level 1003 can be used to override the existing password. The caller does not need to know the existing password. Note that passwords can be provided for accounts during account creation time using NetUserAdd().
  • If the caller is a non-administrator on the target machine/domain, the NetUserChangePassword() function call can be used to override the existing password. In order for this call to succeed, the caller must supply the correct current password. NetUserChangePassword() behaves differently than other Net function calls with respect to the first parameter that specifies either a domain name or machine name. If this parameter is set to NULL, the domain name of the caller is used. Keep this in mind if you intend to change passwords on accounts outside the domain of the logged-on caller. You should explicitly provide the target domain name.

Sample Code

/*++

Module Name:

    chngpass.c

Abstract:

   This sample changes the password for an arbitrary user on an arbitrary
   target machine.

   When targeting a domain controller for account update operations,
   be sure to target the primary domain controller for the domain.
   The account settings are replicated by the primary domain controller
   to each backup domain controller as appropriate. The NetGetDCName()
   function call can be used to get the primary domain controller
   computer name from a domain name.

   Username is argv[1]
   new password is argv[2]
   optional target machine (or domain name) is argv[3]
   optional old password is argv[4]. This allows non-admin password
   changes.

   Note that admin or account operator privilege is required on the
   target machine unless argv[4] is present and represents the correct
   current password.

   NetUserSetInfo() at info-level 1003 is appropriate for administrative
   override of an existing password.

   NetUserChangePassword() allows for an arbitrary user to override
   an existing password providing that the current password is confirmed.

   Link with netapi32.lib

--*/ 

   #include <windows.h>
   #include <stdio.h>

   #include <lm.h>

   #define RTN_OK 0
   #define RTN_USAGE 1
   #define RTN_ERROR 13

   void
   DisplayErrorText(
       DWORD dwLastError
       );

   // 
   // Unicode entry point and argv
   // 

   int
   __cdecl
   wmain(
       int argc,
       wchar_t *argv[]
       )
   {
       LPWSTR          wUserName;
       LPWSTR          wComputerName = NULL; // default to local machine
       LPWSTR          wOldPassword;
       LPWSTR          wNewPassword;
       USER_INFO_1003  pi1003;
       NET_API_STATUS  nas;

       if( argc < 3 ) {
           fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %ls <user> <new_password> "
                           "[\\\\machine | domain] [old_password]\n",
                           argv[0]);
           return RTN_USAGE;
       }

       // 
       // process command line arguments
       // 

       wUserName = argv[1];
       wNewPassword = argv[2];

       if( argc >= 4 && *argv[3] != L'\0' ) {

           // 
           // obtain target machine name, if appropriate,
           // always in Unicode, as that is what the API takes.
           // 

           if(argv[3][0] == L'\\' && argv[3][1] == L'\\') {

               // 
               // target specified machine name
               // 

               wComputerName = argv[3];
           }
           else {

               // 
               // the user specified a domain name. Look up the PDC.
               // This is done in both password change cases to ensure the
               // same computer is targeted for the update operation.
               // 

               nas = NetGetDCName(
                   NULL,
                   argv[3],
                   (LPBYTE *)&wComputerName
                   );

               if(nas != NERR_Success) {
                   DisplayErrorText( nas );
                   return RTN_ERROR;
               }
           }
       }

       if(argc == 5) {
           wOldPassword = argv[4];
       } else {
           wOldPassword = NULL;
       }

       if(wOldPassword == NULL) {

           // 
           // administrative over-ride of existing password
           // 

           pi1003.usri1003_password = wNewPassword;

           nas = NetUserSetInfo(
                   wComputerName,  // computer name
                   wUserName,      // username
                   1003,           // info level
                   (LPBYTE)&pi1003,     // new info
                   NULL
                   );
       } else {

           // 
           // allows user to change their own password
           // 

           nas = NetUserChangePassword(
                   wComputerName,
                   wUserName,
                   wOldPassword,
                   wNewPassword
                   );
       }

       if(wComputerName != NULL && wComputerName != argv[3]) {

           // 
           // a buffer was allocated for the PDC name. Free it.
           // 

           NetApiBufferFree(wComputerName);
       }

       if(nas != NERR_Success) {
           DisplayErrorText( nas );
           return RTN_ERROR;
       }

       return RTN_OK;
   }

   void
   DisplayErrorText(
       DWORD dwLastError
       )
   {
       HMODULE hModule = NULL; // default to system source
       LPSTR MessageBuffer;
       DWORD dwBufferLength;
       DWORD dwFormatFlags;

       dwFormatFlags = FORMAT_MESSAGE_ALLOCATE_BUFFER |
                       FORMAT_MESSAGE_IGNORE_INSERTS |
                       FORMAT_MESSAGE_FROM_SYSTEM ;

       // 
       // if dwLastError is in the network range, load the message source
       // 
       if(dwLastError >= NERR_BASE && dwLastError <= MAX_NERR) {
           hModule = LoadLibraryEx(
               TEXT("netmsg.dll"),
               NULL,
               LOAD_LIBRARY_AS_DATAFILE
               );

           if(hModule != NULL)
               dwFormatFlags |= FORMAT_MESSAGE_FROM_HMODULE;
       }

       // 
       // call FormatMessage() to allow for message text to be acquired
       // from the system or the supplied module handle.
       // 
       if(dwBufferLength = FormatMessageA(
           dwFormatFlags,
           hModule, // module to get message from (NULL == system)
           dwLastError,
           MAKELANGID(LANG_NEUTRAL, SUBLANG_DEFAULT), // default language
           (LPSTR) &MessageBuffer,
           0,
           NULL
           ))
       {
           DWORD dwBytesWritten;

           // 
           // Output message string on stderr
           // 
           WriteFile(
               GetStdHandle(STD_ERROR_HANDLE),
               MessageBuffer,
               dwBufferLength,
               &dwBytesWritten,
               NULL
               );

           // 
           // free the buffer allocated by the system
           // 
           LocalFree(MessageBuffer);
       }

       // 
       // if you loaded a message source, unload it.
       // 
       if(hModule != NULL)
           FreeLibrary(hModule);
   }
				

Properties

Article ID: 151546 - Last Review: July 11, 2005 - Revision: 2.2
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Platform Software Development Kit-January 2000 Edition, when used with:
    • Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Service Pack 5
    • Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
    • Microsoft Windows 2000 Standard Edition
    • the operating system: Microsoft Windows XP
Keywords: 
kbhowto kbapi kbnetwork kbkernbase kbsecurity kbcode KB151546

Give Feedback

 

Contact us for more help

Contact us for more help
Connect with Answer Desk for expert help.
Get more support from smallbusiness.support.microsoft.com