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Update: TRK 3.4 doesn't allow you to change the password on Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Follow this guide, to reset a password on Windows 8 or Windows 8.1.
Last year, I wrote a short article that explains what you can do if you forgot your password. Some of those who commented on the article recommended the Trinity Rescue Kit (TRK), a free Linux-based recovery solution. However, TRK can do much more than just reset passwords. Like MSDaRT, which I reviewed some days ago, it can be helpful to recover a Windows installation in offline mode.
TRK comes as an ISO file which you have to burn to a CD. It is also possible to boot from a USB stick. After booting, you have several options for how to start TRK. Most of them are related to possible driver problems you might experience once you start TRK. You can also test the system memory here before TRK starts.
In most cases, the default settings are the best choice. I tried TRK under VMware Workstation 6, and encountered only one minor driver issue. TRK didn’t support my German keyboard. This is not a big deal if you are familiar with the English keyboard mapping. However, I think, this indicates that driver problems might be one of TRK’s weaknesses.
Once TRK has been loaded, you will find yourself on a Linux prompt. Hence, you have no other choice than to consult the documentation. You can do that by entering “trkhelp”. Most of the commands are quite easy to handle; you don’t have to be a Linux expert. However, basic Linux knowledge is sometimes required.
These are the main tools of TRK:
This tool scans all local storage devices and mounts their filesystems. Once you have access to your Windows installation’s filesystem, you can work with Linux commands like cp or rm to make changes. You can also use the text editor vi, but Windows users will probably prefer pico.
The tool behind Fileserver is Samba, the famous Linux implementation of Microsoft’s SMB/CIFS networking protocol. Fileserver allows you to access the filesystem remotely from a Windows box. This way you can change the files of your patient remotely with your familiar Windows tools.
Some viruses can only be removed when the operating system isn’t running, because they replicate faster than the antivirus software can kill them. TRK comes with four different scan engines: Clamav, F-prot, Grisoft AVG, and BitDefender Scanner. This is certainly a nice feature because it increases your chances of coping with new malware. All scanners can be updated online, directly from the TRK command prompt.
This tool allows you to reset any user’s password without knowing the administrator password. Note that if you didn’t export private keys, you won’t be able to access EFS encrypted files anymore. This is always the case with tools that reset the password while Windows is offline. You should also be careful when you disable syskey, because all local passwords will become invalid. Read the manual carefully!
TRK comes with a command-line based registry editor. For example, the ls command lists all keys, and with the cd command, you can navigate to a subkey. This is certainly a very inconvenient way to edit the registry.
Clonexp can create an image of an NTFS partition and copy it to another computer. This can be useful if you want to create a backup of your disk before you start messing with it.
The name of this tool speaks for itself. Undelete only works if the files haven’t been overwritten yet by Windows. If you have ever accidentally deleted important files which you can’t recover via the Windows Recycle Bin, I recommend pulling the power plug of your computer immediately, and then trying to undelete them with a tool like TRK while Windows is offline.
TRK is certainly a useful tool if you are not afraid of Linux. However, it is not really a match for MSDaRT. Microsoft’s solution is not only easier to use, it also offers more tools to recover a Windows installation. But the Trinity Rescue Kit has one essential feature that MSDaRT lacks. It is free!
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OK, I’ve followed the link to Trinty twice now. Where the ???? is the download link?
I had the same problem when I visited the site the first time. You have to click on “Projects” and then on “Trinity Rescue Kit”, and then on “Download”. Here is the download link: http://trinityhome.org/Home/index.php?wpid=5&front_id=12
I need to turn on a pc which password I forgot and I can’t get TRK to work on the boot. Any tips?
Nick, did you read this?
Somehow i have forgotten my Vista Administrator password. Although i am still able to login into the user accounts as they are not password protected. So is their any way to recover or change my password to a new one so that i can once again gain access to my Admin Account as this is my first vista loaded laptop i did not lnew that i have to make a recovery disk. Please help!!
So, i opened the disk i burned the trk onto.. but any of the programs in the disk can’t be opened without my password. Unfortunately, i got the trk in order to reset the password. Help?
Helped me out a bunch, great post!
I have forgotten my Vista Administrator password. Although i am still able to login into the user accounts as they are not password protected.
Is there any way to recover or change my password to a new one so that i can once again gain access to my Admin Account as this is my first vista desktop, I did’t know that there I ahd to make a recovery disk.
all you have to do is read the site’s tutorial and you can reset the vista passwords, instead of begging for help why not actually do some reading about the Topic here…
Download TRK burn it to a disk, boot from the disk, and at the prompt type winpass -h winusername
A friend of mine gave me a computer that belonged to a friend of his, which has a password which has been long lost. As soon as I am able to get my hands on a blank disc and put TRK on it, I’m excited to give it a try.
I’ve been on the forums quite a bit on the trinity rescue kit website and have seen a lot of positive feedback on the program. If it does work as easily as everyone says it does, it’s going to be a huge relief to be able to finally have a sure-fire way to get around the infamous “Vista Password”.
Wish me luck, and good luck to anyone else using this program.
I downloaded this tool from their website t it came as a zip folder. I now have no idea what to do with the zip. I tried changing the file exstension to .iso but it didn’t do anythng. Plase help!
Excellent, I downloaded this program and spent more time in download than in reset my password
Hi, I have windows vista on my laptop so stand with a password on it, unfortunately I lost it. Well, I read so this trinity rescue kit 3.3 I work from a USB but it does nothing for me. I also write winpass or winusername he does so constantly to Command not found. Can anyone help me to get back into my laptop to get? Have almost tried everything but I can not get out. Hopefully someone has a tip, everything is welcome Thanks
Hey, i have recently tried to put my files up on the server with trinity rescue kit… i used the fileserver -g command…..but how can i reach them from my other windows computers on the same network???? i would really aprecitate help
This tool did not work for me on my Vista machine, however this tool did the trick.
Petter Nordhal-Hagen’s free ntpasswd
well tried dumping trk on my usb drive but the stubborn laptop wont see it as a bootable. cmos likes it but i have a feeling i need to do something to the usb drive to make it bootable, just not sure what. the laptop with the forgotten pword is my only vista machine so i am hooped at this point. going to keep recearching ways to make a bootable usb stick soooo wish me luck
A+ tool, works everytime. What would I do without it!
Great tool. Took 5 seconds to reset Vista password. Thank You
waste of money…didn’t work
I tried booting up from USB. IT seem to load.
But Somehow it can’t detect the windows.
Trinity 3.4 actually worked for me i used the user name to first select the user who i wished to reset the password for and it worked the default recommended way didn’t work for me.
Thanks for the info. I used this tool to reset a password on a friend’s Win7 Premium Home Edition laptop and it worked flawlessly. I appreciate the detailed description and links!!
Doesn’t Work. Says can’t find the device on which TRK can be found…
It does not detect an account which is used to login 🙁
I’m trying to help a friend reset a password on a laptop. Can a flash drive be used since no cd slot? What kind of usb flash drive specs do I need to obtain? Thx for help!!!