Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: syskey.exe support dropped

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 26, 2017
Updated • Sep 14, 2018
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and Windows Server 2016 RS3 update won't support syskey.eye anymore.

Syskey.exe was introduced in Windows 2000, backported to Windows NT 4.0, and has been part of any version of Microsoft Windows released since then.

The tool was designed to improve the security of the Windows boot process by adding another layer of protection to it.

What Syskey.exe does basically is move the Security Accounts Management Database (SAM) encryption key to another location, usually a floppy drive or USB Flash drive. Syskey may also be used to add another password to the startup process of the Windows operating system. This password encrypts the SAM database so that it needs to be supplied for access to it.

Syskey.exe end of life

Starting with the release of the Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016 Fall Creators Update, syskey.exe will no longer be included in Windows.

Additionally, Windows won't support installing an Active Directory domain controller anymore using Install-From-Media that was externally encrypted by syskey.exe.

Windows 10 or Windows Server 2016 machines that are making use of syskey.exe for extra security won't upgrade to the Fall Creators Update.

The use of syskey.exe needs to be disabled on these machines to upgrade them to the latest version of Windows 10 and Windows Server 2016:

  1. Open a command prompt, type syskey, and hit the Enter-key.
  2. Select Update when the "Securing the Windows Account Database" window opens.
  3. Select Password Startup on the next screen.
  4. Select System Generated Password.
  5. Select Store Startup Key Locally. This saves the key to the hard disk of the local computer.
  6. Click okay twice to complete the process.

Security issues in syskey

Microsoft makes the change because the encryption key used by syskey is no longer considered secure. Other reasons provided by Microsoft are that syskey encryption is based on weak cryptography, that syskey does not protect all files of the operating system, and that syskey has been used in some ransomware attacks.

Unfortunately, the syskey encryption key and the use of syskey.exe are no longer considered secure. Syskey is based on weak cryptography that can easily be broken in modern times. The data that is protected by syskey is very limited and does not cover all files or data on the OS volume. The syskey.exe utility has also been known to be used by hackers as part of ransomware scams.

Active Directory previously supported the use of an externally encrypted syskey for IFM media. When a domain controller is installed by using IFM media, the external syskey password had to be provided as well. Unfortunately, this protection suffers from the same security flaws.

The company suggests that system administrators and users make use of BitLocker encryption instead to add extra security to the Windows machine and data.

Users who don't want to or cannot use BitLocker, may use third-party solutions such as VeraCrypt instead.

Microsoft announced the change on a new Support web page on the official Microsoft Support website. (via Deskmodder)

Now You: Do you use extra protection on your devices?

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: syskey.exe support dropped
Article Name
Windows 10 Fall Creators Update: syskey.exe support dropped
Microsoft's upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creators Update and Windows Server 2016 RS3 update won't support syskey.eye anymore.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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