Create a Password Reset Disk on USB in Windows XP

Martin Brinkmann
Jul 2, 2007
Updated • Jan 9, 2013

Windows XP offers a function that is hidden deep inside the user account menu. It is possible to create a so called password reset disk that can be used to reset the password of the account is has been created for. You simply pop in the disk if you have forgotten your password and use it to create a new one.

There is normally no way to store the components of the password reset disk on an usb device because Windows XP is unable to access it during logon. It is not a problem to store the files on an USB device but you will face troubles when trying to access it if you lost your password.

There is however a neat little trick that can be used to be able to access an USB device during logon. To be able to do this you need to activate the guest account as well. If you lost your password you simply login the guest account first which recognizes the USB device and logoff again.

The USB device is still recognized by the system and can be used to reset the password of the main account. Now, let me tell you how you can create a password reset disk in Windows XP.

  • Click on User Accounts in the Control Panel
  • Select the account that you want to create a password reset disk for
  • Click on "Prevent a forgotten Password" in the left menu
  • Click on next and select the "removable disk" instead of the floppy drive. Click Next.
  • Wait until the progress shows 100%, click next and then finish

Congratulations you created a password reset disk on an usb device.

Now, to reset the password do the following:

  • Start Windows normally and connect the USB device when you see the login screen
  • Login as a guest and logout again
  • Select the main account and hit enter without entering a password
  • This should show an error message
  • Click on use your password reset disk and on next
  • Click Next again and chose a new password and password hint for that account
  • Clicking on Next and Finish should display the Windows XP logon screen once again
  • Logon using the newly created password

If you still have a floppy drive you could store the password reset disk on that device as well eliminating the guest account steps.

Update: We have published an updated guide that explains how to create password reset disks in newer versions of Windows.


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