How to Reset Lost Admin Password for Windows Server Core

July 8, 2013 updated by Admin Leave a reply »

Windows Server Core does not include the traditional full graphical user interface (GUI), which provides you with the minimum set of tools to run Windows. You are provided with only a command prompt to manage the server. Once you have configured the server, you may don’t need to log on the server core for a long time. But what if you forgot the administrator password? How to recover or reset the password without rebuilding your server core from scratch?

It seems like a quite difficult task. But if you have a powerful Windows password recovery software, you can reset lost Windows Server Core password in minutes. PCUnlocker is a simple yet effective Live CD that could be used to reset lost admin password for Windows Server 2012 / 2008 / 2003 Core.

How to Reset Lost Admin Password for Windows Server Core?

  1. Download the zipped ISO image of PCUnlocker and save it on another PC you can log on. After the download is complete, extract the pcunlocker.iso file from the ZIP archive.
  2. Burn the ISO image file to a blank CD using any disc burning software, such as BurnCDCC, ImgBurn etc. If you don’t have a blank CD or CD burner at your hand, you can opt to burn the ISO image to a USB flash drive using ISO2Disc program.
  3. Pop the Live CD in the CD drive of your Windows Server Core machine that you want to reset lost admin password for. When the computer is booting, you will need to press the correct key to get into the Boot Menu. It is usually F12 or Del key. Once in the Boot Menu, select the CD/DVD Drive that you just created and press Enter.
  4. The computer will load the WinPE operating system from the Live CD. After a while, you’ll see the PCUnlocker program. It will read the Security Accounts Manager (SAM) files in Windows Server Core and show you a list of local user accounts. If your server is a domain controller, you can click on Reset Active Directory Password option to view the Active Directory user accounts on your machine.

  5. Choose your administrator account and click on Reset Password. The program will reset your lost admin password immediately, as well as unlocking your administrator account if it is already disabled, locked out or expired.
  6. Click on Restart button and remove the Live CD. The computer will then boot normally to the Windows login screen. Just leave the password box as blank and you can log back into Windows Server Core immediately.