Linux / Windows – what’s the difference…

How to reset forgotten WinXP / Win7 / Win8 password and get software serials backup

I’m using 64 bit Win7 Proffessional.

1. You need WinPE disk
For that You need:
Download details: The Windows® Automated Installation Kit (AIK) for Windows® 7 (AIK user guide – if needed)
– Once you have the WAIK downloaded, either burn it to disk or USB, and install. (For disk burning I would reccommend InfraRecorder and for usb drive image you can get instructions HERE)
– Once installed, open the AIK Command prompt:
Start – All Programs – Microsoft Windows AIK – Deployment Tools Command Prompt
– Begin with a cleanup:

dism /cleanup-wim

– Run the copype.cmd script:

copype.cmd x86 c:\winpe

NOTE: the syntax for this command is: copype.cmd so you’ll need to change “x86” to “amd64” or “ia64” for those architectures. Also, my chosen destination is “c:\winpe” but you can create your folder elsewhere if you want. Just keep in mind that this tutorial uses “c:\winpe” in the examples, so you’ll need to adapt that to your choice of destination. The command creates the necessary folder structure within the destination folder.
– Now, copy and rename the base image:

copy c:\winpe\winpe.wim c:\winpe\iso\sources\boot.wim

– Mount the wim file:

dism /mount-wim /wimfile:c:\winpe\winpe.wim /index:1 /mountdir:c:\winpe\mount

– Add imagex to the system32 folder so it is pathed:

copy "c:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86\imagex.exe" c:\winpe\mount\windows\system32

NOTE: I don’t add any additional packages or drivers to my Windows PE
– Unmount the finished wimfile:

dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:c:\winpe\mount\ /commit

– Copy the finished wimfile:

copy c:\winpe\winpe.wim c:\winpe\iso\sources\boot.wim /y

– Create a bootable iso file:

oscdimg -n -bc:\winpe\ c:\winpe\iso c:\winpe\winpe.iso

– Close the Deployment Tools Command Prompt.
– Browse to c:\winpe\ and right-click on winpe.iso and choose Open With – Windows Disk Image Burner or Infranrecorder to burn the iso to disk.
You now have a usable Windows PE disk.
2. Boot from Windows PE or Windows RE and access the command prompt.
3. Find the drive letter of the partition where Windows is installed. In Vista and Windows XP, it is usually C:, in Windows 7, it is D: in most cases because the first partition contains Startup Repair. In my case it was E: (as I had dual disk) To find the drive letter, type C: (or D:, respectively) and search for the Windows folder. Note that Windows PE (RE) usually resides on X:.
4. Type the following command (replace “c:” with the correct drive letter if Windows is not located on C:):

copy c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe c:\

This creates a copy of sethc.exe to restore later.
5. Type this command to replace sethc.exe with cmd.exe:

copy /y c:\windows\system32\cmd.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe

Reboot your computer and start the Windows installation where you forgot the administrator password.
6. After you see the logon screen, press the SHIFT key five times.
7. You should see a command prompt where you can enter the following command to reset the Windows password:

net user your_user_name new_password

If you don’t know your user name, just type net user to list the available user names.
8. Exit command prompt
9. You can now log on with the new password.

NB! I recommend that you replace sethc.exe with the copy you stored in the root folder of your system drive in step 4. For this, you have to boot up again with Windows PE or RE because you can’t replace system files while the Windows installation is online. Then you have to enter this command:

copy /y c:\sethc.exe c:\windows\system32\sethc.exe


For all program serials backup, You can use utility KeyFinder.
UnZip program and run “KeyFinder.exe”. Thats it.

Sources used for direct or modified copying eg. original authors are located:
Michael Pietroforte article on – If you forgot the administrator password you can easily reset the password on Windows 7, Windows Vista and Windows XP with the Sticky Keys tricks. It works always.
PriceTech article on – How to Create a Windows PE Disk
Miguel Leiva-Gomez article on – How to Recover Your Windows Product Key

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