Microsoft policy about lost or forgotten passwords

Summary
Microsoft accounts, the Windows operating system, and other Microsoft products include passwords for security. This article provides some options you can try to reset or recover your password if you’ve forgotten it.

If these options don’t work, please understand that Microsoft support engineers cannot help you retrieve or circumvent passwords that are lost or forgotten.


Resetting a Microsoft account password


Microsoft accounts are used for most Microsoft services, and can be used for sign-in to Windows 8 and later. If you have forgotten the password for your Microsoft account, see When you can't sign in to your Microsoft account.



Resetting a Windows password


If none of the following options work for resetting your password, you will have to reset the device (Windows 8 or later only) or perform a clean install of Windows.

For Windows 8 and later, sign-in can use a Microsoft account, a domain account, or a local Windows account.

For Microsoft account sign-in, see Microsoft account, above.

If you are using a domain account, contact your IT administrator or helpdesk.

Local account:
  1. If you enter an incorrect password, you can ask for your password hint, which was set when the account was created. The password hint might help you remember your password.
  2. (Windows 10 only) If you also set up a PIN for sign-in, you can use your PIN, and then reset your password by going to Start > Settings > Accounts. If you have forgotten your PIN and your password, this will not be an option.
  3. If there is another user account with Administrator permissions on the device, ask them to sign in and reset your password.
For Windows 7 or earlier, sign can use a local account or a domain account.

If you are using a domain account, contact your IT administrator or helpdesk.

Local account:
  1. If there is another user account with Administrator permissions on the device, ask them to sign in and reset your password.
  2. If you have previously created a Password Reset Disk for the specific PC you are trying to access, you can insert that disk and follow the steps in the wizard to reset your password.
    For information on creating a Password Reset Disk, search Windows Help on your PC.




Individual files

Some applications have the ability to password-protect individual files. Unless the application has a password reset ability included, these passwords can’t be recovered. Microsoft support engineers cannot help you retrieve or circumvent passwords that are lost or forgotten.





Third-party password tools

Some third-party companies claim to be able to circumvent passwords that have been applied to files and features that Microsoft programs use. For legal reasons, we cannot recommend or endorse any one of these companies. If you want help to break or to reset a password, you can locate and contact a third-party company for this help. You use such third-party products and services at your own risk.




Issues with employees and passwords

You may experience the following problems when an employee leaves your company:
  • One of your employees left your company. The employee had used files that were protected with passwords when the employee was employed in your company. You do not know the passwords for the files.
  • Before a disgruntled employee leaves your company, the employee applied passwords to some of your files. Now, you cannot open the files, and the employee cannot reveal or refuses to reveal the passwords to you.
Microsoft support engineers cannot help you break the passwords that have been applied to the files. To prevent these problems, use the following methods:
  • When employees leave your company, make sure that they either remove all the passwords from their files or give you a complete list of all passwords. Make sure that you maintain correct contact information about the employees who leave so that you can contact them if a password does not work.
  • To help protect your files from deliberate, malicious password application, make sure that you keep backup copies of all files. Make backup copies of very important files daily. Back up other files as needed.
  • If you store your files on a Microsoft operating system, you can quickly suspend an employee's access to the server. When you do this, you prevent the employee from making changes to files. You can also prevent users from accessing files that they do not require.
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Article ID: 189126 - Last Review: 09/29/2016 15:01:00 - Revision: 6.0

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