Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Electronic devices + password + death = pain

A few months ago my wife's mother died. Being the "teksavvy" guy I had to deal with the disconnection of all-the-things electronics, gather devices that needed to be returned to the ISP,...

Good thing she only had a Windows 10 laptop, no cell phone, no tablet.

But my wife wanted to access what was on the laptop before we wiped it and re-purposed it to a family member.

Only thing was that the person (not me) who set it up for her had configured it with a Microsoft LiveID account. We had a bunch of hand written note with passwords, account ID but could not find a password or PIN that worked to login into her Windows profile.

I had done Windows password reset in the past using a Live CD but it was in the Windows NT era...

The first ISO I used was Hiren’s BootCD PE (I'll spare the details that the laptop is UEFI and does not have a built-in CD/DVD drive and I could not get it to boot on USB). Unfortunately it was not able to reset or remove LiveID account password. But I was able to clear the local Administrator account password and this gaining access to the machine. If all fails we could always at least recuperate the files from there. But I wanted full account access.

After a few Google search I found PC Unlocker. Being a FLOSS advocate I tend to dismiss closed source commercial software. But I did not have much more time to spend on this. So I bought a copy for 32.7$CAD and give it a spin.

Sure enough I was able to remove the user account password. I then rebooted, Windows in all it's glory decided to do a HDD scan and repair (why I don't know), but I was then able to login the account without any passwords.

I would have preferred an open-source free utility, but when time is limited it's sometimes worth it to spend 30$ instead of fiddling for hours.

If you know of any FLOSS tool that can reset/clear LiveID account password on Windows let me know !

As a side note, having many electronic devices, accounts and passwords I'll have to evaluate how to deal with this to ease the way for my relatives when (if I ever lol) pass away.


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