Reset Domain Admin Password in Windows Server 2003 AD

  • From: "Medeiros, Jose" <jmedeiros@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <ActiveDir@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 4 Nov 2005 09:28:05 -0800

Has any one ever tried this?

Jose Medeiros
ADP | National Account Services
ProBusiness Division | Information Services
925.737.7967 | 408-449-6621 CELL

Forgot the Administrator's Password? - Reset Domain Admin Password in Windows 
Server 2003 AD. 

Featured Product: 

Windows XP/2000/NT Key - Easy to use utility to reset Windows 2003/XP/2K/NT 
local and domain controller administrator passwords. Download FREE version  
<> now!

Note: In order to successfully use this trick you must first use one of the 
password resetting tools available on the Forgot the  
<> Administrator's 
Password? page.

The reason for that is that you need to have the local administrator's password 
in order to perform the following tip, and if you don't have it, then the only 
method of resetting it is by using the above tool.

Read more about that on the Forgot the  
<> Administrator's 
Password? page.

Update: You can also discuss these topics on the dedicated Forgot Admin 
Password - Related Discussions 
<>  forum.

Lamer note: This procedure is NOT designed for Windows XP since Windows XP is 
NOT a domain controller. Also, for a Windows 2000 version of this article you 
should read the Forgot  
<> the 
Administrator's Password? - Change Domain Admin Password in Windows 2000 AD 

Reader Sebastien Francois added his own personal note regarding the changing of 
Domain Admin passwords on Windows Server 2003 Active Directory domains ( HERE 
<> ). I will quote parts of it 
(thanks Seb!):


Local access to the Domain Controller (DC).

The Local Administrator password. 

Two tools provided by Microsoft in their Resource Kit: SRVANY and INSTSRV. 
Download them from HERE <>  (24kb).

Step 1

Restart Windows 2003 in Directory Service Restore Mode.

Note: At startup, press F8 and choose Directory Service Restore Mode. It 
disables Active Directory.

When the login screen appears, log on as Local Administrator. You now have full 
access to the computer resources, but you cannot make any changes to Active 


Step 2

You are now going to install SRVANY. This utility can virtually run any 
programs as a service. The interesting point is that the program will have 
SYSTEM privileges (LSA) (as it inherits the SRVANY security descriptor), i.e. 
it will have full access on the system. That is more than enough to reset a 
Domain Admin password. You will configure SRVANY to start the command prompt 
(which will run the 'net user' command).

Copy SRVANY and INSTSRV to a temporary folder, mine is called D:\temp. Copy 
cmd.exe to this folder too (cmd.exe is the command prompt, usually located at 

Start a command prompt, point to d:\temp (or whatever you call it), and type:

instsrv PassRecovery "d:\temp\srvany.exe"

(change the path to suit your own).

It is now time to configure SRVANY.

Start Regedit, and navigate to


Create a new subkey called Parameters and add two new values:

name: Application type: REG_SZ (string) value: d:\temp\cmd.exe name: 
AppParameters type: REG_SZ (string) value: /k net user administrator 123456 

Replace 123456 with the password you want. Keep in my mind that the default 
domain policy require complex passwords (including digits, respecting a minimal 
length etc) so unless you've changed the default domain policy use a complex 
password such as P@ssw0rd

Now open the Services applet (Control Panel\Administrative Tools\Services) and 
open the PassRecovery property tab. Check the starting mode is set to Automatic.


Go to the Log On tab and enable the option Allow service to interact with the 

Restart Windows normally, SRVANY will run the NET USER command and reset the 
domain admin password.

Step 3

Log on with the Administrator's account and the password you've set in step #2.

Use this command prompt to uninstall SRVANY (do not forget to do it!) by typing:

net stop PassRecovery sc delete PassRecovery

Now delete d:\temp and change the admin password if you fancy.



Robert Strom has written a cool script that will completely automate this 
process. He wrote:

"My script is really just an automation of his process which performs all the 
post cleanup of itself. Launch one script and it's all done. No manual registry 
entries, the service is created, the service settings are all imported into the 
registry, etc."

Download it from HERE <>  

Note that you still need physical access to the DC and the ability to log on 
locally as the local administrator. If you do not have the local 
administrator's password use the following tip: Forgot the  
<> Administrator's 

Thanks Robert!


This tip was compiled and written with the help of Antid0t, Robert Strom and 
Sebastien Francois. Thank you all!


How  <> to reset the Domain 
Admin Password under Windows 2003 Server  

Original post by Antid0t and Robert Strom on the MCSEworld  
<> forums  

Related articles

You may find these related articles of interest to you: 

 <> Change Recovery 
Console Password 

Change User Password from a Remote Computer 

Change User Password from the Command Prompt 

 <> Forgot the 
Administrator's Password? 

 Forgot the Administrator's Password? - Alternate Logon Trick 

Forgot the Administrator's Password? - Reset Domain Admin Password in Windows 
2000 AD 

 <> Recover 
Protected Office Documents 

What's the Password Reset Disk in Windows XP? 


You can also discuss these topics on the dedicated Forgot Admin Password - 
Related Discussions <>  forum. 



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