While there are several ways to access your Windows computer if you’ve forgotten your password, using a “Password Reset Disk” is by far the fastest. If you are afraid that one day you will forget your PC password, we recommend that you immediately create a password reset disk.
Compared to other password reset methods (for example, security questions), a password reset disk is easier to make and much more secure. In this guide, we’ll explain pretty much everything you need to know about creating and using a password reset disk on a Windows computer.
What is a password reset disk?
Think of a password reset disk as a master key that can be used to regain access to your computer if you forget your password. Technically, it is not a physical drive. It’s just a recovery file that Windows encrypts on an external storage device (USB flash drive or SD card). When connected to your computer, you can create a new password from the login screen in minutes.
Create a password reset disk
You can create a password reset disk using the “Forgot Password Wizard” in Control Panel. Follow the steps below to get it done.
- Type “control panel” in the Windows search bar and click Control panel on the result.
- Set the Display by option to big icons and click User Accounts†
- In the right pane of the User Accounts window, click Create a password reset disk†
- That will be the . launch Forgot password wizardthe built-in recovery tool that allows you to create a password reset disk in Windows 10. Insert the USB flash drive into your computer and click Next one†
- If you have multiple USB drives connected to your computer, select the desired drive from the drop-down list and click Next one continue.
- Enter the current account password in the box provided and click Next one continue. Leave the box blank if the account is not password protected.
- Wait for the Forgot Password Wizard to create the recovery drive and click Next one when the progress bar reaches 100%.
- Click Finish to close the wizard.
You will be prompted to label the drive as ‘Reset password’, but we recommend that you don’t. If the flash drive falls into the wrong hands, it becomes too easy for the holder to guess what the drive might be used for.
Just keep the drive in a safe place and don’t use it for anything else. If you choose to label the drive, make sure the label is cryptic; use a code, name, or pseudo-label that only you can understand.
When you open the flash drive in File Explorer, you should see a password backup file called userkey.psw†
This is confirmation that Windows has registered the USB drive as the password reset disk for your account. You cannot use the drive to reset your password if you delete the file or format the flash drive.
Using a password reset disk
Suppose you can’t access your computer because you can’t remember your password, take out your password reset disk, connect it to your PC and follow the steps below.
- Click reset Password below the password dialog.
Remark: If you don’t see the Reset password option on the login screen, click the Submit button or press Enter† The option should now appear on the screen when prompted to sign in again.
- Select the passkey drive from the drop-down list and click Next one†
- The Reset Password Wizard will prompt you to create a new password. Type the new password, retype the password in the confirmation box, and add a password hint if desired. Click Next one continue†
- The newly created password will replace the old password that you couldn’t remember. Note that you can also continue without creating a new password. Just leave the spaces blank and click Next one† The Reset Password Wizard removes the old password, meaning you can login to your PC without a password.
- Click Finish to close the wizard. That will redirect you to the login screen; Enter the newly created password to login to your account.
Windows 10 Password Reset Disk: FAQ + Additional Information
Creating and using a password reset disk on a Windows 10 PC is relatively simple and straightforward. However, there are some important caveats worth noting. In the next section, we provide more information about the feature.
What happens if you lose the USB flash drive?
You can create a replacement password reset disk on a new USB drive. By doing this, Windows will no longer recognize the old or missing drive as your password reset drive. Log in to your account and follow the steps above to create a new reset disk. During the process, the “Forgot Password Wizard” warns that creating a new password reset disk will make the old one unusable. Click Yes continue.
Do you need to create a new password disk if you change your password?
Absolutely not. A password reset disk is valid forever. It can be used to unlock or reset your computer multiple times, no matter how many times you change your password. You may only need to recreate the reset drive if you lose or format the USB drive.
Password recovery drives only work with local accounts
You cannot use a password reset disk if you sign in to your computer with a Microsoft account. The feature only works with password-protected local accounts. Can’t remember your Microsoft account password? Visit the account recovery page on Microsoft’s website to reset it.
One password reset disk per account
A password reset disk can only be used to unlock the account it was created on. If you have multiple accounts on your computer, you must create separate password reset discs for each account.
You can create a password reset disk for other local accounts on your PC using the same USB drive, as long as the password backup files for the accounts exist on the disk.
Will a password reset disk work on any computer?
A password reset disk can only be used to unlock/reset the computer. That is, you cannot use a password reset disk created on computer A to unlock computer B. Except, of course, that you created the password reset disk for both devices on the same storage drive.
Never lose access to your PC
You should now create a password reset disk, even if you think you will never forget your password. It’s always nice to have a master key somewhere. The only security risk is that anyone with access to the USB drive containing your password reset disk could lock you out of your computer. So make sure to keep the drive safe and out of reach of other people.