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  • Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

    Hi, I hope you guys can help, as I'm at my wit's end here.

    Running a Dell Dimension XPS Gen 5 (circa 2005), with XP SP3

    Had a reboot after making a couple of small registry changes (don't ask). Came up with following error message after CMOS and BIOS:

    Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt : \WINDOWS\SYSTEM32\CONFIG\SYSTEM
    You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup.
    Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair.

    Well, I googled that and worked out I had a broken registry. To fix that I apparently needed to repair XP from the recovery console by using the original system file (c:\windows\repair\system.bak), and backing up the old one.
    I'm aware now that I could've tried some simpler options before resorting to this procedure, but I trusted the google rank of the results returned. I should have come here first.... In any case...

    I did that using my Windows XP Setup disk (service pack 2). During this I was asked for the Administrator password, which I knew to be blank, and restarted, thinking that my problems were over. After restart, I got the same error, so I assumed that the fix didn't work and I should try another solution.

    So I went back into the recovery console to restore the backed up system file, only this time, when I was asked for the administrator password, it didn't accept a blank password, nor did it accept other obvious things (Admin, admin, Administrator, administrator, Dell, dell) and that's when I got really worried.

    I then tried a repair install of Windows (going past the license agreement and then repairing, not installing), as one solution was to get to the point of the install of devices and then pressing shift+F10. This attempt got through to the Windows XP bootscreen (with the blue progress bar at the bottom) but after that I got this message:

    lsass.exe - System Error
    "When trying to update a password the return status indicates that the value provided as the current password is not correct."

    (for about a tenth of a second before it rebooted automatically).

    I then tried a cd-rom of the XP Pro Setup disk (slipstreamed) which is the only other setup disk I have acess to, and this successfully entered recovery console, but only recognized the H: drive, and this was the cd-rom itself.

    And now I'm lost. Can anyone help? I really do not want to wipe my HDD clean. Just been informed that my in-the-cloud data backup is not working and I will lose all my data. What I'm really looking for is a way to identify the odd Admin password that a default system file has included without my knowledge, go back to the Recovery Console and restore the original system file, and then use Last Known Good or an XP repair.

    Other alternatives I've seen include getting a set of boot floppies, or an XP setup cd-rom for Windows 2000 server or professional, or buying a specific password recovery bootable cd, or just a version on recovery console without asking for an admin password. But I don't know what the mileages is in any of these and with every attempt I'm worried I'm losing more and more chances to get my system back the way it was.

    A USB boot would be helpful too, as I do not have another PC with a floppy drive or cd burner (I can get to a PC with a floppy drive, but it's not exactly the most elegant or swift solution).

    Apologies for the huge post, I hope that I've included enough information and haven't fallen foul of any forum rules.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Matt

  • #2
    Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

    Before you do any more messing around with it, remove the HDD from the machine, attach to another working machine and save your Data (including PST and NK2 files if you use Outlook plus Favorites if you use IE or Bookmark.htm if you use Firefox).

    Once you have done that post back and we will see what suggestions we can come up with. I have also had that error but my only option was to do a clean install.
    1 1 was a racehorse.
    2 2 was 1 2.
    1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
    2 2 1 1 2

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

      Hi biggles77. Thanks for the reply. The drive is actually two hdd configured as a Intel Array, RAID 0. That's what it came like out of the box, I didn't do any custom install stuff on it. Does that make it easier, or (I expect) harder, to copy things off it?

      Also, I won't be able to do any copying until the weekend though, as my time during the week is pretty much filled with 'real life'. I hope that's an acceptable attitude. If you want to restrict your posting similarly I will not be offended, but I will be checking daily and if I have any information to share I will do it asap.

      I want to thank you again for your attention - I know at least, that I will learn something important (I already have), and hope that it is not too onerous for you to aid me.

      Matt

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

        Hope you got all your important data backed up. RAID 0, IMO, is the scum of the Earth. If 1 HDD fails, you lose EVERYTHING!!!

        There is a file that can be deleted from the Recovery Console that will remove the password and hopefully allow you to logon. I can't for the life of me find my reference to the file and they guy who told me about it is not answering his effing mobile phone.

        Someone reading this may know of it or even come up with a different solution.
        1 1 was a racehorse.
        2 2 was 1 2.
        1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
        2 2 1 1 2

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

          Thanks for the information Biggles. I knew that smart-alec HD config would bite me eventually. I've got some backups, but not the children's christmas video or latest e-mails etc. Would using a knoppix live CD to get the rest help? Hmm... I'm going outside the context of this sub-forum aren't I?

          Does anyone think "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" is sounding very apt right now?

          Anyway, locating a spare usb hdd, and doing what I can to copy essentials is my next task. I'll post again when I've got further, but trust me I'll be lurking just in case someone has a brilliant idea in the meantime. Thanks.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

            I'm going outside the context of this sub-forum aren't I?
            No, not really since it still relates to you getting back into your HDDs, preferably by recovering the password.

            Was the HDD partitioned at all? I mean, was the operating system installed on the C Drive and the data kept/backed up on the D Drive? If it was then you may be able to do a clean install on XP on the C partition and still be able to recover the data. I am assuming the RAID 0 was setup through an onboard RAID controller. This is a LAST resort option and we still need to find out if this is possible. Remember I have ZERO experience with RAID 0. If the RAID 0 was setup through the operating system then you are cactus!! Assuming that it is an onboard setup, then if you reinstall the O/S, do NOT format the drive (partition) that you install it on. This may make a new profile and save any data that was in the original profile. Remember, this is LAST option.

            The Knoppix live CD is also something I haven't used so I am unable to assist with that. Someone reading this will hopefully be able to provide and answer.

            Find an XP install CD that hasn't been slipstreamed and try the MS fix. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307545

            You could also check out the other links and see if they might help. http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=e...ta=&aq=null&oq=
            1 1 was a racehorse.
            2 2 was 1 2.
            1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
            2 2 1 1 2

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

              Right - I've ordered a USB HDD - they're getting cheap these days aren't they? That'll come at the weekend. In the meantime, to answer your questions - the RAID 0 was set up using the controller, not the OS, but Dell didn't try to do anything clever with it (or maybe at the time I didn't try to do anything clever with it) and everything is on the C: drive *sigh*.

              I've booted up the Knoppix Live CD and that worked, but I couldn't access my HDD. That may be due to my inexperience with the OS, rather than a ruined disk though.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

                Did the Knoppix disc have the RAID drivers installed on it? Unless the CD has the RAID drivers you will not see your RAID 0 HDD.
                1 1 was a racehorse.
                2 2 was 1 2.
                1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                2 2 1 1 2

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

                  Right! Apologies for the long delay. To give the details in as succinct as way as possible:
                  • It wasn't knoppix, it was knoppix std so the tools and utilities were all cli and I didn't have the time to look it all up. So I put that to one side.
                  • The ext HDD arrived, and it wasn't broken in transit, which was good.
                  • I created a usb boot of ubuntu 9.10 and booted my borked pc off that, which worked (dual monitor caused some display issues for a while, but easily rectified).
                  • mounted my ntsc ext HDD and copied everything from my C drive across (the raid set-up was instantly recognised by ubuntu).
                  • made sure the copy worked by attaching my hdd to my laptop and took a quick look at some docs.

                  So, what now!? I'm in two minds as to rebuilding my pc - on the one hand, it would allow me to more efficiently use space (and possibly dual-boot it), but on the other hand I will lose all the customisation and settings I have, which I will have trouble remembering.

                  But overall, I think having the option to keep everything would be the best way forwards.

                  Any ideas?

                  PS: Anyone else who wants any tips on doing any of the above from someone who has just gone through it are welcome to contact me. I presume there's a way to leave a PM on my profile?

                  PPS: Biggles - only just now noticed the reputation link on each post. I'll sort that out now.
                  Last edited by mattdevney; 14th February 2010, 12:27. Reason: Offer to help anyone else with doing this

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

                    Originally posted by mattdevney
                    PS: Anyone else who wants any tips on doing any of the above from someone who has just gone through it are welcome to contact me.
                    Please post any tips etc in this thread so they can be shared with the rest of our Community. That is after all what this site is all about. Sharing the Knowledge.

                    Considering the prices of HDDs, I would suggest, if you have important files, it to:
                    1. Create a RAID 1 on your PC
                    2. Connect an external HDD either USB or eSATA and configure an auto backup schedule
                    3. Backup into the "cloud" from one of the numerous options
                    Personally I never have less than 3 different file locations for my important data.
                    1 1 was a racehorse.
                    2 2 was 1 2.
                    1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                    2 2 1 1 2

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

                      Ok, I'll try. It's hard to know what's relevant or worthwhile. Hence the earlier, more modest offer.

                      Things to note:

                      http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/windo...dows-computer/

                      That is a good reference to start from. But make sure your BIOS can cope with an USB boot.

                      Then use this:

                      http://www.pendrivelinux.com/univers...easy-as-1-2-3/

                      With this:

                      http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download

                      To make a (4GB ideally) usb stick into a bootable device. Once you've made that (no CD burning, hooray!) put it in the first USB slot you have at the back of your machine. The ones on the front tend not to work for this, and I found that some of the later ones of the 5 I had on the back also weren't good to boot from. YMMV.

                      Once you've got the USB boot working, the next issue you may run into is one of display. My issue was that I have a dual monitor set-up for my PC, and it confused the heck out of Ubuntu, but only after the boot selection screen for Ubuntu loads completely correctly, so that might fool people inbto thinking that the install of ubuntu on the usb stick didn't work.

                      Just remove one monitor, and then all should be fine.

                      From there, the original link I gave works well. The only issue I had after that was that ubuntu does not like external ntfs HDDs for some reason - it doesn't instantly recognise them.

                      So you have to use the following commands in Terminal:

                      sudo mkdir /media/external
                      sudo mount /dev/hda1 /media/external/ -t ntfs -o nls=utf8,umask=000

                      Where hda1 should be replaced by the actual location of the drive as worked out by the following command:

                      sudo fdisk -l

                      That can be tricky though, but there should be clues in it's name and also within Nautilus on Ubuntu as to what it should be called. If you get an error message when running the mount command read it carefully - it gives an alternate form that might work (it did for me).

                      Once you have that up and running, it should be a straight drag and drop to get your files over. I copied my entire drive 320gb and it took about 4 hours. But I think I'm on USB 1 (old pc).

                      And then you're done.

                      HTH
                      Last edited by mattdevney; 17th February 2010, 01:35. Reason: clarity

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

                        Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
                        Considering the prices of HDDs, I would suggest, if you have important files, it to:
                        1. Create a RAID 1 on your PC
                        2. Connect an external HDD either USB or eSATA and configure an auto backup schedule
                        3. Backup into the "cloud" from one of the numerous options

                        Personally I never have less than 3 different file locations for my important data.
                        Totally agree. Another quite cool option is to back up to a bootable pen drive as well, for the docs you want to access anywhere. The method I've just posted works well for that, as long as you select the persistent option to save data to the drive as you are going along.

                        Now I've backed up, I'm open to any ideas on how to rescue this desktop, rather than just format it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

                          ok i'm gonna throw it out there.

                          have u tried Peter Nordstahl's (or whichever his name is) XP Password recovery disk ?

                          If you can't find this omn a bootable cd by itself, try the Hirens Boot CD - I think that has th eright tool on it..

                          you may be bale to set a Blank administrator password..
                          Please do show your appreciation to those who assist you by leaving Rep Point https://www.petri.com/forums/core/im.../icon_beer.gif

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

                            Originally posted by mattdevney
                            I'm open to any ideas on how to rescue this desktop, rather than just format it.
                            After all this you still want to stay with a RAID 0 configuration?
                            Why do you want to keep he "desktop"/setup? Where is your sense of adventure? Blow it away and configure it differently, or even the same way, and learn new things during the process.
                            RAID 0, I would have my mother-in-law live in my house before I would use RAID 0!!
                            1 1 was a racehorse.
                            2 2 was 1 2.
                            1 1 1 1 race 1 day,
                            2 2 1 1 2

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Strange 'default' password for Administrator account after attempted Recovery

                              Originally posted by biggles77 View Post
                              After all this you still want to stay with a RAID 0 configuration?
                              Why do you want to keep he "desktop"/setup? Where is your sense of adventure? Blow it away and configure it differently, or even the same way, and learn new things during the process.
                              RAID 0, I would have my mother-in-law live in my house before I would use RAID 0!!
                              Apologies for the long delay in posting. Real life is a pain sometimes. Being fair, I use this laptop for messing about on - my main PC is where I keep everything, and I don't like change. But, seeing as BartPE with password renew doesn't recognize my RAID config, and Petter N Hagen's chntpw thinks it already set to blank, it's a rebuild.

                              Point completely taken about raid 0! I was thinking about installing *nix and XP on one 160Gb disk, and keep all my data on the other one. But data access might be awkward, perhaps? I'd like to keep that separate, but my experience of this isn't great. And would I have to sort something out with the Intel Raid controller anyway? Answers on a postcard please..?
                              Last edited by mattdevney; 28th February 2010, 02:55. Reason: clarity

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