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Article ID: 189126 - Last Review: August 8, 2007 - Revision: 5.3

This article was previously published under Q189126

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SUMMARY

Microsoft has added password protection to programs and files to help prevent unauthorized access to important information. In many Microsoft products, you can apply a password to help prevent unauthorized users from opening a file or program.

When a user tries to perform an action such as opening a file or program, the user is prompted for a password. If the user does not type the correct password, the user cannot perform the action.

This article describes the Microsoft policy about missing, lost, forgotten, or incorrect passwords. Additionally, this article describes information or resources for the following:
  • Windows Live account passwords
  • Windows operating system password reset disk
  • Third-party password tools
  • Employees and passwords
  • Software Assurance information
Microsoft support engineers cannot help you retrieve passwords of files and features in Microsoft products that are lost or forgotten.

MORE INFORMATION

Windows Live account passwords

If you forget your Windows Live account password, you must reset the password before you can sign in to Windows Live again. You can reset the password by sending yourself a password reset e-mail message or by providing location information and answering your secret question.

To reset the password by requesting a password reset e-mail message, follow these steps:
  1. On any sign-in page of a Windows Live Web site or of a Windows Live service, click Forgot your password?.
  2. In the Windows Live ID box, type your Windows Live ID.
  3. In the Characters box, type the characters that you see in the Picture box, and then click Continue.
  4. Click Send password reset instructions to me in e-mail.
  5. Click the e-mail address where you want the password reset e-mail to be sent, click Continue, and then click OK.
  6. Follow the instructions in the password reset e-mail message that you receive to reset your password.
To reset the password by providing location information and the answer to your secret question, follow these steps:
  1. On any sign-in page of a Windows Live Web site or of a Windows Live service, click Forgot your password?.
  2. In the Windows Live ID box, type your Windows Live ID.
  3. In the Characters box, type the characters that you see in the Picture box, and then click Continue.
  4. Click Use my location information and secret answer to verify my identity.
  5. In the Question area, type the answer to the question in the Secret Answer box.

    Note Select the following options if you are prompted:
    • Country or region
    • State
    • ZIP Code/Postal Code
  6. Click Continue, type the new password, confirm the new password, and then click Continue.
  7. If you are prompted for an alternative e-mail address, type the alternative e-mail address, and then click Continue. Or, click Skip to bypass this step.
  8. In the You've changed your password page, click Sign in to Windows Live.

Windows operating system password reset disk

You can create a password reset disk to gain access to your computer in the case that you forget your password in future. The following are some important things to consider when you create a password reset disk:
  • The password reset disk must be created before the password is forgotten.
  • You cannot use a password reset disk to reset the password for another computer.
  • A third-party can access your computer by using a password reset disk. Therefore, it is important to store the password reset disk in a safe location.
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
894900  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/894900/ ) Forgotten your Windows XP Home password? - Part 1: Introduction
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
894901  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/894901/ ) Forgotten your Windows XP Home password? - Part 2: Using a password reset disk
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
894902  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/894902/ ) Forgotten your Windows XP Home password? - Part 3: Setting a new password as an administrator
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
321305  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/321305/ ) How to log on to Windows XP if you forget your password or if your password expires
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
155609  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/155609/ ) Cannot remove a forgotten Internet Explorer ratings password
For more information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
930381  (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/930381/ ) How to create and use a password reset disk in Windows Vista

Third-party password tools

Some third-party companies claim to be able to circumvent passwords that have been applied to files and features that Microsoft programs use. For legal reasons, we cannot recommend or endorse any one of these companies. If you want help to break or to reset a password, you can locate and contact a third-party company for this help. You use such third-party products and services at your own risk.

Employees and passwords

You may experience the following problems when an employee leaves your company:
  • One of your employees left your company. The employee had used files that were protected with passwords when the employee was employed in your company. You do not know the passwords for the files.
  • Before a disgruntled employee leaves your company, the employee applied passwords to some of your files. Now, you cannot open the files, and the employee cannot reveal or refuses to reveal the passwords to you.
Microsoft support engineers cannot help you break the passwords that have been applied to the files. To prevent these problems, use the following methods:
  • When employees leave your company, make sure that they either remove all the passwords from their files or give you a complete list of all passwords. Make sure that you maintain correct contact information about the employees who leave so that you can contact them if a password does not work.
  • To help protect your files from deliberate, malicious password application, make sure that you keep backup copies of all files. Make backup copies of very important files daily. Back up other files as needed.
  • If you store your files on a Microsoft operating system, you can quickly suspend an employee's access to the server. When you do this, you prevent the employee from making changes to files. You can also prevent users from accessing files that they do not require.

Software Assurance information

Software Assurance customers who have purchased the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset that is available with the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance may be provided a break fix or advisory support as long as it does not enable any effort to circumvent password protection.

Software Assurance customers who have not purchased the Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset may be directed to the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance to learn more about the tool.

For more information about the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack for Software Assurance, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/enterprise/benefits/tools.mspx (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/enterprise/benefits/tools.mspx)
For more information about the optimized desktop, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/enterprise/default.mspx (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/enterprise/default.mspx)

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