Published on September 18th, 2013 | by Kieran

Resetting Administrator Password in Windows 2012

A few months ago I wrote a post about Resetting Administrator Password in Windows 2008. I thought I would see if the same worked for Windows 2012. Thankfully it does, with a few newer looking screens and a change in the paths. So here is the updated process which I did on a Windows 2012 Server running on VMware Workstation. The whole process is remarkably easy and quite quick.


To reset the password on your Windows 2012 server, simply complete the following steps:

  • Boot from the Micrsoft Windows Server 2012 DVD
  • From the Windows Setup menu, click “Next”.
  • Select “Repair your computer”
  • Under Choose and option, click on “Troubleshoot”.
  • Under Advanced options, click “Command Prompt”.
  • At the command prompt, run the following commands:
    cd windows\system32
    ren Utilman.exe Utilman.exe.old
    copy cmd.exe Utilman.exe
  • Close the command prompt and then click “Continue”.
  • The server should now boot and present the logon screen. Here click Windows Key + U.
  • At the prompt you can now change the password, by typing the following command:
    net user administrator Password123
    This will set the password for the Administrator user to be Password123 (case sensitive).

Closing the command prompt, you should now be able to log back onto the server using the password you have provided in the last step.

Cleanup Steps

Once you have verified you can log on to the server you will have repeat the steps above and boot using the Windows Server 2008 DVD/ISO and run the command prompt again.

  • Restart your server and once again, boot from the Micrsoft Windows Server 2012 DVD
  • From the Windows Setup menu, click “Next”.
  • Select “Repair your computer”
  • Under Choose and option, click on “Troubleshoot”.
  • Under Advanced options, click “Command Prompt”.
  • At the command prompt, run the following commands:
    cd windows\system32
    ren utilman.exe
    copy utilman.exe.old utilman.exe
  • Close the command prompt and then click “Continue”.

You should be back up and running as if nothing ever happened.


Here are some screenshots taken as I completed the password reset

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8


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About the Author

has worked with computers and technology for nearly 20 years. Based in the United Kingdom, he works throughout EMEA as a Solution Consultant, specialising in Fax & Document Distribution technologies. Predominantly blogging on he can also be found on Twitter @KieranLane, and Flickr.

72 Responses to Resetting Administrator Password in Windows 2012

  1. CJ says:

    I receive System error 1359 has occurred. An internal error occurred.


    Any suggestions?

    • Kieran says:

      Hi CJ

      Are you sure you were able to logon previously with the administrator account? Or perhaps did you use another account by another name?


    • L1ttl3J1m says:

      I was getting the same error, in my case probably because I used the Linux chntpw utility on it first.

      Creating a new account enabled me to log in. Instead of resetting the administrator password at the command prompt, you can create a new user account and add it to the administrators group;

      net user “OtherUser” Password123 /add
      net localgroup administrators “OtherUser” /add

      Then you can log in with the new account. From there, you can reset the administrator account password from the “User Accounts” app in the control panel

  2. Derek says:

    Thanks for the tutorial, but I’m running into a strange issue. I get as far as running the Command Prompt, but when I try to change to “windows\system32”, it tells me that it cannot be found. If I do “dir”, the Windows folder isn’t even showing up.

    Any suggestions?

    • Kieran says:

      I wonder if the system might be accessible via a different drive. Are you running a virtual system or a physical one? When running on an actual server you may need to load drivers for the storage controller first.

  3. lambert sprangers says:

    Hi Kieran,
    Remotly I changed my password, while i am forced too do so every month. A good thing. You have to retype it twice and i always document it. For a strange reason I cannot use it anymore. So I used your tool to reset.
    It is working fine.
    At the display to change the password, windows says all of the 20 passwords he won’t accept because it has not the same history, structure and complexibility. I don’t believe that.
    What is wrong?

    • Kieran says:

      Hi Lambert, I have seen it a few times where Windows won’t accept passwords as they are too similar to passwords used previously. Just to be sure, you could always random password generator, just be sure to remember to write it down 🙂

  4. Robert says:


    Is there any way to do this without the disk? I am able to log into the server with all the other user codes but this will not allow me to access some of the other information I am trying to recover.

    • Kieran says:

      Hi Robert, not sure I understand your question. Sounds as though you are trying to access information on the disk but don’t have the correct permissions to do so. You could try taking ownership of the data via the Advanced Properties.

  5. Sheelendra says:

    Dear Sir

    I am forget my 2012 Server Administrator Password kindly suggest wht should i do to reset my administrator password

  6. Adam says:

    Thanks for posting this walkthrough, this was much much easier than a re-install. Worked like a charm.

  7. mohamadreza says:

    i did what you said
    and typed ” net user administrator *”
    so finish
    but dont login whit this password administrator
    i do not know what to do now

  8. antoine says:

    V helpful. Thanks.

    If in core version uitlman may not exist. In which case just skip the rename step and go straight to copy of cmd. then on clean up just del utilman.exe

  9. Kevin says:

    If you have an existing D: drive, then the next drive letter will be where your “actual” system drive will be located…. E:. You will know it by doing a Dir command and seeing the programs…. windows etc. folder structure. Then follow the instructions above. They work! It just saved my back side! Thanks for posting this VERY useful info. Since when does demoting a dc lock you out? You have to enter the password twice before you can continue! I really hate Microsoft, but it pays the bills…. so I’m not biting the hand that feeds me…. ARgh!!!

  10. You saved me a lot of headache. I was already contemplating re-installing my hyper V windows server 2012 virtual machine.

  11. Jonathan Løwert says:

    Thank you for this hint. The boss is very happy that I could recover his server where he had lost the password 😉

  12. Mark Clark says:

    Thank you!!!

  13. Mangesh says:

    Thanks a lot you saved a lot of time.

    Saved me from reisntalling the Windows .

  14. Alister says:

    Worked like a charm thanks. Had a base Server 2012 machine with hyper-v installed, so the drive letter was different. Rather than your cleanup steps I renamed the file manually, with a bit of fluffing around with persmissions. I have seen your stuff copied to other websites without the cleanup instructions which could leave some interesting security holes.

  15. TJ says:

    Thank you very much!

  16. Charlie says:

    Thanks this was so useful.
    My 2008 server was running on ESXi. When you go in to repair you have to go to d: rather than c: and run the commands. Once you boot up again you then notice that the 2008 server has the normal c: structure and trying to rename or delete from here does not work.

    So you have to go through the process again as you suggest and do it from the repair cmd prompt in d: and it works perfectly.

    Thanks again


  17. Pramod says:

    Thanks a Lot. This saved me a lot of trouble.

  18. Brad says:

    Thank you!

  19. rob sevick says:

    hello, using vmware vm, after during the earlier steps, and while focused inside the VM console (at login prompt), I hit Windows+U, i got a dialog box with choices like Narrator, Magnifier, high Contract, etc. I even chose the On-Screen Keyboard and tried Windows + U and it didn’t work. Is this problem VMware specific and/or do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks for your help, Rob

    • rob sevick says:

      FYI… I tried again and the 2nd time, it worked. From a logon window, I was able to hit the Windows key + U. I was then able to reset the local administrator account and access the system again. Thanks!!

  20. Jay says:

    Hi Kieran,
    I am running a virtual instance on windows server 2012 R2 as a home lab setup.
    When i go to the command prompt in repair mode, I find that my file system is on C drive. I am able to rename the utilman.exe, but when i try to copy cmd.exe i get an error: the system cannot find the file specified.
    Is there anything i can to do to fix it?

  21. Hal says:

    Thank you! You saved me.

  22. M G says:

    If this is a VM will this work? How do I send “Windows Key + U” to the VM in VMware Console?

  23. Adeleke says:

    Many thanks for the solution provided in resetting administrator a Client Server after the previous IT STAFF left without any information to the client.
    My boss was surprise on how I did the magic as you know this was kept secret with me.

  24. Bill Johnson says:

    I’m stuck in a similar situation but the local administrator account is disabled. Do you know the solution for the scenario I’m in? Any help is greatly appreciated.

  25. Pri says:

    Thanks a lot Kieran !!. This solved my problem in minutes.

  26. emad says:

    thanks so much for useful instruction.i am able to log back in .thanks so much

  27. Hello Kieran!

    Your tutorial is very helpful!
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Good job!

    Best regards,
    Budi AS.

  28. eric says:

    Worked like a charm. thanks. I did the last step (cleanup) without rebooting on DVD.

    In fact i did it just after i was able to login in. steps after changing the password :
    login / command prompt / and rename utilman.exe.old into utilman.exe (this time the drive was obviously the usual one = C:)
    no 2nd boot to DVD !

    note: i was on a VM hyper-v and was not knowing how to pass/click on Windows Key + U in hyper-v console, there is a small icon bottom left in login screen to launch utilman , click on it instead.

    Good job ! TY !

  29. Davis says:

    AWESOME…. Thanks a million brother. Worked. Perfect.

  30. flo says:

    thanks a lot man, u saved me.

    cheers from france

  31. Tiberio says:

    Hi Kieran,
    On my win 2012 r2 there is not the option “continue” but only “troubleshhot” and “turn off pc”, so after closing command prompt I can’t ….continue! Do you think is a problem of Italian version 2012 dvd? Any suggestion?

    Thanks so much!

  32. Vevish says:

    Hi Guys thanks for the tip, I have made the way a bit shorter.
    after the windowKey+U
    type compmgmt.msc this is easier, you can create a new user
    or just reset the existing user as it is gui

    When you reboot you can change the file back in windows, but you need to take ownership of the file and grant full access to utiliman.old

  33. Righteousrog says:

    OMG you saved my butt! Thanks!

  34. Sean says:

    This saved my life. Worked like a charm. Thank you so much !

  35. Nick says:

    Thanks for the post!

    If anyone is running an ESXi VM and the System drive is using Paravirtual SCSI Controller the Windows CD will not see the System drive.

    Power off the VM change the System Drive SCSI controller to LSI Logic SAS
    Boot into the Windows CD and follow the steps in this post to reset the password however Poweroff the VM instead of continue.
    Change the System Drive SCSI Controller back to Paravirtual so that the Server can actually boot.

    To clean up you will need to do the same….

    As the server will not boot from the LSI Logic SAS Controller, I admit I was nervous about corrupting the OS however it worked and the server is stable, this was a worse case scenario so worth the risk butI I would advise caution when changing the SCSI Controllers.

  36. tim says:

    I am amazed this actually works. Seems like a major security hole – though I suppose if you have physical access…

  37. Charley Kay says:

    Thanks! Worked perfectly

  38. Tomtom says:

    this solution works with serial/raid disk ?

    Thanks !

  39. Derick says:

    Hi there
    I`ve got the problem when i put in
    cd windows\system32 it tells me
    “system cant find path specified”
    What can i do to fix this

  40. Michael says:

    I have a windows 2012 server i did the steps as shown but at the proper log on screen I press windows key and u and get the narrator magnifier popup no CMD prompt Help

  41. Rober says:


    Muy bueno, funcionó a la primera.
    cambiar password administrator windows 2008 2012‏

    PERFECT !!!


  42. costel olteanu says:

    Thank you it worked for me, windows server 2012 r2

  43. mike says:

    Me funciono así :

    net user “OtherUser” Password123 /add

    net localgroup administrators “OtherUser” /add “nameserver\otheruser”

    Muchas gracias,, me salvaste la vida…

  44. Massimo says:

    Thank you, Kieran, it works fine.

  45. Raza ullah burki says:

    thanx alot you solved my problem
    i just enter password123 and then solved

  46. Nick says:

    Thank you! I was a victim of a stupid prank in my windows networking class and was unable to login for a week (they forgot what they changed my password to) and you’ve saved me a month’s worth of headaches in just 10 minutes, you’re a rose among thorns.

  47. Greg says:

    I can’t believe how easy this was, great guide thank you!

  48. Dehoney says:

    Tried this on a dell server but it did not work.

    Help out please.

  49. Mohsin says:

    Thanks Kieran

    I followed your the steps and it solve my problam

  50. Radek says:

    Tried on our DELL server, work perfectly. Great idea. Thank you

  51. michaelerbyshire says:

    Great !
    well summarized.
    I will add a free tool named Lepide local user management tool which is available free and helps to reset admin/users passwords within few clicks.

  52. Mohale says:


    It really worked for me.
    Thanks big time

  53. Kaliostro says:

    Thank you, Kieran, very much, helped me.

  54. Judith Maris says:

    Thank you so much! You’re an angel.

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