Today I was asked by one of our server administrators who was off site, if I knew how to reset the local administrator account on a Windows 2003 Server that was not communicating with the domain. I said yes, “let me get my Linux Mint USB stick and I can reset the password.”
The server was an old HP ML370 with a RAID configuration and 4GB of RAM. Once I was in Linux Mint 9, I mounted the local hard drive and navigated to the %systemroot%\System32\config folder. I right click that folder and selected Open Terminal here. Here is the reference document I use:
- Open Nautilus and mount Windows HDD.
- Right click Windows folder and select Open in Terminal.
- Type cd System32/config and press Enter.
- If account is Administrator enter sudo chntpw SAM.
- If any other account enter sudo chntpw -u <account> SAM.
- From menu select function.
- Write hive files.
After rebooting the server I was able to log in as the local administrator and complete the repairs. Another justification for every IT Technician (server administrator or on-site workstation support) should have multiple tools to repair any computer on-site.