Archive for April, 2014

How to Change SQL Server 2014 Password After Forgotten

April 27th, 2014 by Admin

Forgot the SA password on MS SQL Server 2014 instance? How can I reset or change SQL Server 2014 password? Microsoft SQL Server stores passwords as a hash in a system table named sql_logins. The old versions of SQL Server 2008/2005/2000 use only the SHA1 hashing algorithm to encrypt the password whereas SQL Server 2014/2012 have moved to use a stronger algorithm SHA512.

In theory, the SQL Server password hash can be cracked using brute-force attack. But currently there is no effective tool out there that can crack the password in an acceptable amount of time. Here I’ll introduce a simple way to change SQL Server 2014 password by replacing the password hash in the Master database (master.mdf).

How to Change SQL Server 2014 Password After Forgotten?

SQL Server Password Changer is the only tool we will be using for this tutorial. Before getting started, you need to stop your SQL Server instance so we can then use this program to edit the password hash resides in the master.mdf file, by following these steps:

  1. Click here to download and install SQL Server Password Changer on your local computer.
  2. Start the program and click the Open File button. Select the master database file (master.mdf) for your SQL Server 2014 instance. Typically it is located in the folder:
    C:\Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL12.MSSQLSERVER\MSSQL\DATA

    Select the SQL Server master database file

  3. The program will automatically decrypt the master database file and display all user accounts in your SQL Server 2014 database.

    SQL Server Password Recovery

  4. Select a user account whose password you want to change, click the Change Password button. Type a new password and click OK.

    Change SQL Server Password

  5. The old password will be replaced with your new password. Now start your SQL Server instance and you can then connect to your SQL Server 2014 database with your new password.

Besides resetting SQL Server 2014 password, you can also use SQL Server Password Changer to change forgotten SA password on SQL Server 2012, 2008, 2005 and 2000.

How to Change Screen Resolution in Windows PE 4 and 5

April 26th, 2014 by Admin

Windows PE (Windows Preinstallation Environment) is a lightweight version of Windows used for troubleshooting an operating system while it is offline. Previously I’ve written an article on how to create a bootable Windows PE CD or USB flash drive. But the default resolution of Windows PE is 800 x 600, Is there a way to change the screen resolution to fit on your screen?

To set screen resolution in WinPE, simply put an answer file named unattend.xml file in the root of the WinPE ISO image with the following content.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<unattend xmlns="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:unattend">
  <settings pass="windowsPE">
    <component name="Microsoft-Windows-Setup" processorArchitecture="amd64"
publicKeyToken="31bf3856ad364e35" language="neutral" versionScope="nonSxS"

If your Windows PE is a 32-bit Windows environment, remember to change the processor architecture from amd64 to x86. Also, since Windows PE 4.0, it doesn’t like 16-bit color depth, so when changing to 32-bit it would work perfect.

How to Bypass Windows 8.1 Start Screen & Boot Directly to Desktop

April 20th, 2014 by Admin

In the previous post I explained how to skip the Start screen in Windows 8, by creating a scheduled task. Things get easier since Windows 8.1 and you can now bypass the Start screen with just a few clicks.

The Start screen is a good starting point for Windows 8 devices with touch screens. But the majority of desktop users would prefer to bypass the Start screen and boot directly to the desktop. There is a really simple way to do this.

How to Bypass Windows 8.1 Start Screen?

  1. Right-click on the Windows 8.1 taskbar, and then choose Properties.


  2. Click on the Navigation tab, then under the Start screen section, check the box next to “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start“. Click OK.


  3. Now when you fire up your PC you will be taken straight to the desktop without ever seeing the Start screen. However, you can always access the Start Screen any time by press the Windows key.

Reset Lost Admin Password of Windows Azure Virtual Machine

April 17th, 2014 by Admin

The virtual machines on Windows Azure allow to connect from RDC (Remote Desktop Connection). But how can I reset the administrator password if the password has been lost? Please help!


If we forget the Admin password for a Windows Azure VM, is there an easy way to reset it? The most common method we can think of is boot your VM from PCUnlocker Live CD and reset lost Windows password. However, booting a Windows Azure VM from a CD or ISO is not supported at this time. As of now there is no way to reset the password externally or outside Windows Azure VM. But there is a workaround to gain access to your data.

Create a new Windows Azure VM and attach old VM as data disk to new VM. Now, you will be able to get access to your old data. As password loss could be a significant issue, you can add a new Admin user to your VM after creating the new VM so in case you lost the main password you will still have access to same VM using the other admin user.

Updated: All Azure virtual machines have at least two disks – an operating system disk and a temporary disk. The operating system disk is actually virtual hard disk (VHD) located in an Azure storage account. The latest version of PCUnlocker allows you to mount a .VHD or .VHDX file and reset lost Windows Azure VM password offline. For more information, please check out this tutorial: Forgot Windows VHD/VHDX Administrator Password.

How to Disable Help Sticker Notifications in Windows 8.1

April 11th, 2014 by Admin

Today when I try to set up a Picture Password on Windows 8.1, a big black rectangle appears on the left border of my screen. Inside the rectangle there is a big orange arrow and the words “Switch between apps. Swipe in from the edge to go back to the last app you were using.” The annoying thing is that it overlays part of the screen and I can’t get rid of it.


After searching online I found this is the Help Sticker Notifications. Luckily there is a simple registry hack to disable the Help Sticker Notifications in Windows 8.1.

How to Disable Help Sticker Notifications in Windows 8.1?

  1. Press the Windows + R keyboard shortcut to bring up the Run box.
  2. Type regedit and press Enter afterwards.
  3. In the Registry Editor window, navigate to the subkey: HKEY LOCAL MACHINE\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows.
  4. Right-click on Windows key and select New > Key from the context menu.
  5. Name the new key EdgeUI.
  6. Right-click the new EdgeUI key afterwards and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value.
  7. Name it DisableHelpSticker.
  8. Double-click on DisableHelpSticker and enter 1 in the Value data box. Click OK.disable-help-sticker

Restart your PC and the Help Sticker Notifications will disappear in Windows 8.1. Nevertheless, if you feel the need to get it back, you can do so by navigating back to the EdgeUI key and delete it from the registry. This will enable the help sticker again.

Offline Change Windows Password with Trinity Rescue Kit

April 10th, 2014 by Admin

How to change Windows password after you’ve forgotten your password? You can easily change the password of any user account from the Control Panel with admin privileges. However, if you’re locked out of your computer, you need to use a boot CD to change the account password offline.

Trinity Rescue Kit (TRK) is a free live Linux CD that aims specifically at recovery and repair operations on Windows machines. It has integrated the chntpw tool which allows you to edit / change a Windows user password offline. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to change Windows password offline with Trinity Rescue Kit.

Note: TRK is a command-line utility which doesn’t come with a GUI interface. If you’re not a Linux geek, I would recommend you to use the PCUnlocker Live CD which is a Windows PE bootdisk with graphical interface.

Offline Change Windows Password with Trinity Rescue Kit

  1. Download the ISO image of Trinity Rescue Kit and burn it to your CD. After you have burned a disc, place it in the CD/DVD drive of your locked computer and get the machine to boot from Trinity Rescue CD.
  2. When TRK loads you get a list of tasks TRK can perform. Navigate down to the 4th option (Windows Password Resetting) using the arrow keys and press Enter once it is highlighted.


  3. Once you select that option, you get a list of ways you can select to reset your lost password. Here we select the Winpass prompts for username first option (Winpass is actually just an automated script for the chntpw tool). TRK will ask you the username whose password you want to reset.


  4. At this point, TRK will search your hard drive for all currently Windows installations and list them. You’ll need to select the relevant installation here. If you have only one OS installed, then merely press 1 and hit Enter.
  5. Now, at the final stage, you will get yet another list of options. Here, choose the “Edit (set new) user password” option. Press 2 to change your Windows password offline.


  6. Now reject the TRK CD and restart the computer. You can log on to Windows with your new password!

2 Options to Convert Outlook .OST to .PST for Free

April 6th, 2014 by Admin

How to convert Outlook .ost file to a .pst file, so I can open it in a new Outlook installation on another computer? PST is a personal storage table used by Microsoft Outlook to store mailbox data of an Outlook user, while OST is an offline storage table used by Outlook Exchange Server that stores email messages and other mailbox data. However, you cannot open an .ost file in Office Outlook if it is not configured with Exchange Server.

There are many situations that we need to convert .ost file to pst format for future importing into Outlook. In this tutorial we’ll show you two options to convert Outlook .OST file to PST format for free, without using any third-party software.

Tips: In all versions of Microsoft Outlook, there is no option to password protected an .ost file. After converting ost to pst, you can set a password to protect the .pst file itself. However, pst file password is very weak and you can break pst password easily!

Method 1: Convert OST to PST with AutoArchive

Using the AutoArchive feature of Microsoft Outlook, you can manage space in your mailbox of an .ost file by moving older items to to a specific location in the PST file format. This should be the easiest way to convert an .OST file to PST format. However, AutoArchive is not enabled by default. Here are step-by-step instructions to enable AutoArchive in Outlook 2007:

  1. Open Outlook application. Click on the Tools menu and click on Options.
  2. The Outlook Options window will open. Click on Other tab and then AutoArchive button.
  3. The AutoArchive window opens and you’ll notice everything is grayed out. Check the box next to Run AutoArchive every…


  4. Specify how often you want it to run. Click on the “Move old items to” option and specify a newly created .pst file to save the archive data. After you’ve made your selections click OK.
  5. You can then access the archive pst file at a later time after the AutoArchive feature runs.

Method 2: Migrate OST to PST with Outlook GUI

With Outlook GUI you can copy everything in the mailbox of your OST file to PST flawlessly. To get started, you need to create a new pst file and then follow these steps to migrate OST to PST:

  1. From the left-hand navigation pane of Outlook, select your desired ost folder such as inbox that you want to copy.
  2. On the Edit menu, click the Copy to Folder option.
  3. In the Copy to Folder dialog, select your newly created pst file. Click OK.


  4. Repeat the steps for copying and saving the email items from each folder containing email messages. At this point in time, the email messages of OST file are copied to the newly created PST file.

Force All AD User Accounts to Change Passwords at Next Logon

April 3rd, 2014 by Admin

How can I force domain user account to change password at the next logon? Simply open Active Directory Users and Computers MMC snap-in (DSA.MSC) by selecting Start -> Administrative Tools -> Active Directory Users and Computers, and locate your desired AD user. Right-click on the account and select Properties. To force the account to change password, just tick the “User must change password at next logon” checkbox.


Now you might ask: Is there a way of doing this for all users in a single OU? In this post I will show how to use a simple Powershell script to force all AD user accounts to change their password at next logon.

Tips: If you forgot the AD administrator password and get locked out of your domain controller, you can reset the password by booting your server to PCUnlocker Live CD.

How to Force All AD User Accounts to Change Passwords at Next Logon?

Click Start and then navigate to All Programs -> Accessories -> Windows PowerShell. Right-click Windows PowerShell, and select Run as administrator from the context menu.

Using both Get-ADUser and Set-ADUser commands you can force all domain user accounts in a OU to change their passwords at next logon. For this demo I’m using IT OU. The fully qualified domain name of our Windows domain is


The following command will force all users in the IT department to change password on login.
Get-ADUser -Filter * -SearchBase “OU=IT,DC=corp,DC=top-password,DC=com” | Set-ADUser -ChangePasswordAtLogon:$true


However, this might cause some AD users to be locked of their computers if the “User Cannot Change Password” attribute is set. To avoid such problem, It’s better to also disable both “User Cannot Change Password” and “Password never expires” attributes.

Get-ADUser -Filter * -SearchBase “OU=IT,DC=corp,DC=top-password,DC=com” | Set-ADUser -CannotChangePassword:$false -PasswordNeverExpires:$false -ChangePasswordAtLogon:$true

After executing the PowerShell command and all your users will be forced to change their own password on their next restart. If you don’t allow the AD users to set a blank password, you can then set up a group policy for your own purpose, by following the steps described in our previous post: How to Change Active Directory Password Policy in Windows Server 2008.