Some people claim that an advantage of a Microsoft account is that you can easily recover your Microsoft account password. I had a different experience. This post covers the various stumbling blocks. Even if you currently don’t have a problem with your password, I recommend reading this article so you are aware of the various traps that might cause your password reset attempts to fail.

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

Forgotten password ^

In theory, you only have to go to https://account.live.com/ResetPassword.aspx and Microsoft will send you a password reset link to your alternate email address or to your phone.

Reset Microsoft account password

Reset Microsoft account password

I suppose this will work just fine in most cases. However, several circumstances exist that can cause this procedure to fail. In my case, the recovery email address I entered when I created the Microsoft account was wrong. This can easily happen because the sign-up form only has one form field for the alternate email address, and Microsoft doesn’t send a confirmation link to the email address. Thus, you can enter any email address and you will only notice that you mistyped the address when you need it for recovering your account. By then, it is already too late, and things will get very complicated.

Verify your identity ^

Microsoft offers an alternate option for resetting your password if you don’t have access to your recovery address. You just have to select I don’t have any of these on the We need to verify your identity page.

We need to verify your identity

We need to verify your identity

On the next page, you have to enter a new contact email address.

Recover your Microsoft account

Recover your Microsoft account

The lengthy account recovery page that follows prompts you to verify that the account is yours.

Verify that account is yours

Verify that the account is yours

You see now that it is important to enter the correct information when you create the Microsoft account. Aside from personal information, you also have to know things such as email addresses of contacts you’ve recently sent emails to, the corresponding email subjects you used, and email folders you created recently.

Now comes something funny. I tried this procedure several times, and I failed even though I still had access to the account. That is, I could provide all the information because I simply copied it from my Outlook.com inbox. A couple of seconds later, I received an automated email from Microsoft with the crucial sentence:

Unfortunately, we were unable to verify your ownership using the information that was provided.

And when I stubbornly tried it again by entering more detailed information, Microsoft’s recovery program got impatient, and I received an email with the subject “Final update on your account recovery request.”

This is the interesting contents of the email:

Now what?

Because there have been multiple unsuccessful recovery attempts for this account, we recommend at this point that you create a new account. It’s quick and easy, and we have tools to help you import contacts, connect with Facebook, and even receive messages from multiple email accounts.

Well, what can I say about this recommendation? I suppose most users won’t be in the mood to create a new account “at this point.” It is not just that you will have the inconvenience of informing all your contacts that you have a new email address. If you used this account to sign in to Windows 8 or Windows 10, creating a new account won’t really solve your problem, and connecting to Facebook is certainly what I am least interested in doing “at this point.”

I don’t know why the account recovery failed. Considering that I wasn’t able to reset my password with this identity verification form, even though I had full access to my account, I conclude that quite a few users will have fun with this procedure.

Sign-in is blocked ^

It is interesting to note that I had not forgotten my password when I started the procedure. When I first signed in from a second machine with my new Microsoft account, I probably accidentally entered a wrong password and then I solved the captcha incorrectly a couple of times (spam bots are much better with this than I am). The result is that sign-in to Outlook.com is blocked from every machine except the one on which I created the account. So I have all the information about the account, including the correct password, I am signed in and have access to the account settings, but I am unable to unblock the account for other machines.

Outlook.com - Sign-in is blocked

Outlook.com - Sign-in is blocked

Recovery code and recovery app ^

By the way, if you think that the recovery code for your Microsoft account or the identity verification app on your phone could be helpful in this situation, these verification methods are reserved for when you try to sign in from a location or device that Microsoft considers as suspicious. If you didn’t configure one of these methods, you will have to enter a code that Microsoft sends to your recovery email address. However, these recovery methods are useless if your account is blocked.

Lost password without Internet access ^

Another problem exists with resetting a Microsoft account password if you use the password to sign in to your Windows 8 or Windows 10 machine. Let’s assume you entered the recovery email correctly and received a password reset code. If the computer on which you forgot the password has no Internet access, you won’t be able to sign in with the new password. If you have no other account for this computer and have to sign in to establish an Internet connection (for instance, if you use a mobile plan), you are in trouble.

Now what? ^

So now what? Importing contacts from Facebook into your new Microsoft account? You have better options. The good news is that it all works without filling out endless forms and scratching your head over unsolvable captchas. The first thing you have to do is create a new local account for your Windows 10 machine. This can be done easily even if you are unable to sign in. I will cover the procedure in my next post.

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20 Comments
  1. Erick 5 years ago

    I have ever run into the same problem and unable to reset the password through all options available on Microsoft's website. Luckily I used a commercial tool - PCUnlocker Live CD, to bypass the Microsoft account. After logging into Windows 8, I switched back to local account.

    3+

  2. Michael Pietroforte 5 years ago

    Erick, I don't think that you need to spend money for unlocking a Windows machine. Check out my guide.

    6+

  3. Undra 4 years ago

    I'm trying tho test my password on Windows 10 i need help please

    4+

  4. Alex 4 years ago

    Please Help me. First, sorry for my English. I have a big problem. stage: Windows 10, set to boot in safe mode (alternate shell) without network access. So, I forget my microsoft account password (usually i used my pin), how to get into the alternative shell or how to boot normally

    2+

  5. JAMI ALFERINK 4 years ago

    Sooooo. All those things in your post has happened to me I also sent Microsoft my drivers license & s.s.# to prove my identity & they still blocked me & said i should start a new account...son wants his profile so bad he's hurt & upset with me. HELP! BEEN TRYING TO GET INTO ACCOUNT SINCE NOVEMBER

    2+

  6. debbie 4 years ago

    I reset my outlook password but it keeps saying incorrect email or password

    2+

  7. MAP 3 years ago

    If you have Windows 10, try doing the MS Account password reset using IE (the desktop app). I sweated through 30 minutes of try this and try that using Chrome and Edge before the online chat tech suggested it. As soon as I set a new password using IE everything was OK.

    3+

  8. Nancy 3 years ago

    I need help asap!  I need password for my outlook email and I've tried twice with microsoft and can't get it.  I would consider myself a beginner and really really need help asap.  Trip info (airline tickets, hotel reservations, etc.) is in my email account and I need them.

    thanks

    Nancy

    2+

  9. Robert Taylor DAV 3 years ago

    I am a friend helping someone try to get into his laptop. The thing says it is windows 10. I do not use that one. I tried every pw he had and it would not work. I have tried to get into MS (on my machine) and change the pw but it will not work. I removed his HD and downloaded all his pictures so I would not destroy anything. I can get it to go online with my router but there is no programs available to run a reset on line. Is there a way to go into his HD and change the pw to boot locally? The default page that comes up on boot is logon to his hotmail email address eith a place for a pw. I cannot get to any other page. The laptop came with the OS installed and without a disk. Any suggestions?

    Bob Taylor DAV

    5+

  10. Berty Basset 3 years ago

    After one year of trying to reset my code. Guy at the phone shop recommends bining the windows phone. Works for me. Microsoft account password reset must feature on the next Mission Impossible  movie.

    Berty Basset

    5+

  11. Jo 3 years ago

    Does anyone have an answer to this problem? About a week ago I was informed by Microsoft that it appeared that someone else was using my account. Since then, my account has been blocked, I've tried verifying, that I am the account holder, many times over and still no luck. It just seems that I am going around in a continuous circle! I have tried contacting customer support, but you can't speak to an actual person!!! I probably have some important emails, that I simply can't open.
    If anyone has any ideas, it would be greatly appreciated.

    11+

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      Michael Pietroforte 3 years ago

      I had the same problem with two test accounts and in both cases I was unable to get access again. In one case I tried so hard that Microsoft's "AI" lost its nerves and suggested that I create a new account. I couldn't believe that this was really happening. I mean, in both cases I had the correct passwords and access to the recovery email account. I was denied access because the system detected "suspicious behavior". I guess the reason was that I logged on from another country.

      I just had the same problem with a Google account. The system then wanted to know the city where I usually login and when I then entered my hometown, Google claimed this is wrong and I had no other option than sending an angry note to Google. The difference between Google and Microsoft seems to be that a person looks into this in such cases. The angry message was enough to convince the support staff that I am the account owner .

      So your only chance is to contact Microsoft. You can also try posting something in a Microsoft forum. If you are lucky one of the moderators will forward your problem to the right persons.

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      • JoJo the squirrel 1 year ago

        I ran into all of these same problems last week, step by step. I have never went off on someone so bad in my life. I felt horrible after I hung up the phone. Oh yeah and then she said that I should just create a new account. I asked is that some kind of joke. The email address is forthe most part an extension of me after having it since the late 90's. The problem is the person that I finally called after trying like hell to get into my account would not transfer me up the chain to someone that was solution driven. All she kept saying is that she was sorry and I told her, that was a lie that she wasn't sorry nor should she be and to stop saying that and please provide a solution. The next words out of her mouth were "I'm sorry sir..." I cut her off and screaming like a lunatic threw the phone skipping it off the kitchen table. It was my mother-in-laws landline. She's 72 and we gave her a cell phone but she wont get rid of it and good thing because how would I have gotten my blood pressure to 185 without it to contact Microsoft and listen to them read script after script and ignore my issue while pretending that they give a rats ass about me as a customer and the problems that their ridiculous security protocol was causing me. 3 hrs of trying to fix this problem with 1 hr of that on the phone and I was still dead in the water. Do you want to know the kicker on this. I found out later that my computer didn't have a virus as I suspected, oh no... IT WAS THE WINDOWS UPDATE ISSUE THAT A BUNCH OF US WERE CHOSEN TO HAVE THE PLEASURE OF HAVING IT FAIL, LOCKING US OUT OF OUR COMPUTERS AND TRYING TO FIX OURSELVES BECAUSE THE SUPPORT AND HELP FROM MS WAS LET JUST SAY INADEQUATE OR MAYBE USELESS IS A MORE FITTING WORD!!! Okay, but here is the icing on the cake. I dropped my S8 and it started glitching the screen and within hours was flickering so bad it was useless. Then the next day I ordered the replacement which I wouldn't receive until the following day. In the meantime there is an important was sent to me from the phone insurance that I needed to print sign and scan back to them. But I can't remember my password and because I'm using my daughters laptop that I hadn't logged in from before I can't get the email that I need from the insurance so I can get my replacement phone shipped to me. the insurance company finally allowed an exception to add an alternate email address and shipped me the phone. The funniest thing happened when I was setting it up. Google had saved my password and populated it so I said what the heck I've tried everything else and presto, I was logged in. I sure wish I had found your site before all of this but its bookmarked now my friend. Thank you. I'm still trying to get my laptop back up and that is what brought me here. Keep up the good work brother!

        2+

  12. Robin Greco 3 years ago

    I forgot my Microsoft password , I can't get into my laptop, this damevh true identity where it's knows your face, but it still wants a Microsoft password 0.

    1+

  13. Sangay Dorjee 2 years ago

    I have forgotten by Microsoft password and the phone no.  Which I  had link with that account had also cancelled due to which I am not being able to receive code. Plz help me to solve the problem.

    3+

  14. Ed MAcdonald 2 years ago

    I too have my email address blocked after 8hrs on line with Msoft Support their senior tech tells me the Msoft Server has blocked it and he can do nothing. I keep being led in circles and no one is available to speak to me. I have changed my password so many times I have now forgotten the last one. What can I do now Help?

    2+

  15. jack 1 year ago

    Microsoft forwards all calls and chats to a center in India, and they all give the same exact answers, all form guides and the party line. There is no way to recover an account, MS and outlook (hotmail) do not care, it doesn't pay to keep trying to recover a lost code or password, they simply do not care. If you cannot open an old email or forgot a password or accidentally put in the wrong or misspelled recovery email you are up a creek. Change over from hotmail/outlook, do not trust your emails or accounts using this email format. Use either gmail or another service. Hotmail/outlook and any MS product isn't worth the aggravation. They will not help you. And no forum, software or hack is helpful either.

    1+

  16. Jane 1 year ago

    Microsoft really needs to address this issue. I work with residential clients and, frequently, with pensioners. They often are sent to hospital for weeks only to emerge and have forgotten their password.

    There's no way they're ever going to remember who they emailed or subjects of emails as it's been too long. And as the author here has shown--> even when you DO have the EXACTS of these, you STILL stay locked out! It's sheer lunacy!

    This goes far beyond email accounts, as well. I also have people who have used their MS account to log in to their computers-- so they're locked out of their own machines.

    Gates ought to be ashamed, but that would take having a soul. Maybe a class-action lawsuit would grab the attention at MS?

    5+

  17. Caroline 7 months ago

    I can’t get back into my accounts either. Yes to class action. And I’m a lawyer.

    1+

  18. Angry and betrayed 3 months ago

    I am having all of the trouble described by many of you here. Why? Because I had asked for my account to be closed about 10 days ago but then remembered the hurdles I'd have to go through trying to update everyone/organisations/etc without it there to do that, before closing it down afterwards. I know my email and password and they know I know it. Spent over 10 mins twice this evening on the phone. This is September 2019 and I hate to say it sounds like I received the EXACT SAME TREATMENT tonight that you all did: reading from a script it seemed they could not fully understand themselves. I tried many logical questions to them and got NOT ONE ANSWER from anyone I spoke to on the phone or online chat either! All of them just refer you in the end to the insanity that is their "recovery form", which as others noted, includes things they know fine well most people have little/no chance of remembering (exact details of contacts AND subject lines of messages. Shocking for me as I'd thought maybe having been with them for the best part of 2 decades might count for something - WRONG! As another said, they JUST DON'T CARE. Conclusion: I finally completely understand why people would abandon Microsoft altogether in favour of Apple products/services or other alternative options. There is poor service - then there is MS "support"... :'-( was literally in tears at one point

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