Change or Reset Windows NT/2000 Administrator or User Password with chntpw in Linux

There are multiple ways to recover or reset forgotten administrator or user password of Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. It often happens that users forget their administrator or user password.

However, there are numerous alternatives to fix this problem and get back the forgotten password using applications and software. There is one of the easiest and fitting ways to reset and change forgotten Windows NT/2000 administrator password is using the chntpw program. It is a Linux based program that will help users to reset password or change password.

It is especially designed to overwrite and set Windows 2000 and Windows NT SAM passwords of user, which has valid and logical account, by changing encrypted password in registry file (SAM file).

Now most of the users will think about how it will work when the computer will not start. This chntpw program is completely executable program and comes with bootable CD which can change password or reset user password. Another important point is that users do not need to remember passwords to reset or change password of administrator account or user account.

There are some points that need to be considered before starting this program.

  • It works on NT system which is clearly offline.
  • It can be used only in local machine i.e. users can not run this program on remotely computer to change or reset password.
  • It comes in bootable CD which runs in startup process (booting) of computer.
  • It can be installed on Linux System named, Ubuntu and then users can recover their passwords on windows by mounting or attaching windows drive, connected through IDE/SATA/SCSI interface or USB disk.
  • It is quite easy to install and run on Debian based system in case any user use this system and You can download the source code from

Chntpw Usage Guide

  1. Embed Windows NTFS, FAT32 or FAT partition to Linux system, allowing read and write access support.
  2. Browse SAM file for Windows XP, Windows 2000 or Windows NT which is usually located at \Windows\System32\config or\Winnt\System32\config. Alter directory in the folder, there are numerous files such as SYSTEM, SAM, and Security present.

Issue this command inside the folder in order to change administrator password: chntpw SAM

Now set the given command (reset the USERNAME with genuine name):

chntpw -u USERNAME SAM

This command is especially for single and specified user if you want to add more username then in SAM file then use this command:  chntpw -l SAM.

  1. Now chntpw will display some notification and message on the screen afterwards it will prompt to reset or change passwords. Now you just enter new administrator or user password.
  2. Detached the drive and restart computer to implement changes. Now your computer will be resettled with new password of user and administrator.

Finally, you are done and your password has been recovered.

Another option of running chntpw program to recover forgotten password will be displayed by following this command:  chntpw –h

chntpw help and usage

  • h – for the Message
  • Chntpw version 0.99.3 040818, (c) Petter N Hagen
    Chntpw: change password of a user in a NT SAM file, or invoke registry editor
    Chntpw [OPTIONS] [systemfile] [securityfile] [otherreghive] […]

  • l – list all users in SAM file
  • u – Username to change, Administrator is default
  • e – Registry editor. Now with full write support!
  • N – No allocation mode. Only (old style) the overwrites of same length is possible
  • i – Interactive. List users (as -l) then ask for username to change
  • L – Create names of changed files to /tmp/changed
  • t- Trace. Show hexdump of structs/segments. (Deprecated debug function)
  • d- Enter buffer debugger instead (hex editor),
  • v – Be more verbose (for debugging)

You could check out the readme file to know more about how to write/read/ extract the NT’s SAM file if your hard drive is having NTFS file partition.