Last month, reader Russ Edwards wrote me about some problems he was having with Windows XP:
Terry, This is your old friend Russ again. I know you enjoy pointing people in the right direction. I am having trouble with my admin account. Some things I try to download and install come up and say “I don’t have admin account authority” and the install aborts. I am the only user and don’t know what happened to my admin account. I want everything completely accessible at all times (to me) . Can you tell me how to fix my administrator account? ….Russ
In a situation like this, we have to experiment. First, I’d try booting into Safe Mode and logging in with the name “Administrator” U— whether you normally have a user with that name or not, there is a special Administrator account that is available in Safe Mode.
How do you boot to Safe Mode?
The easiest way is to start the boot process and press the F8 key again, and again, and again… until you get the Safe Mode boot menu. This menu will give you several options including Safe Mode, Safe Mode with Networking, and “Last Known Good Configuration.”
When you log in as Administrator in Safe Mode, try it with no password. If that doesn’t work, try your normal password, if you didn’t make a note of it when you first started your computer. Most Windows installations, when you run the first time, will give you an option to set a password for the Administrator account.
If neither works, the Adminstrator password can be reset by any user who has Administrative privileges. You’ll still have to do this in Safe Mode in order to see the Administrator account.
While in Safe Mode logged in as Administrator, check Users and the type user assigned to your normal ID. If it’s not Administrator, you can change it.
In this case, it sounds like Russ already had an Administrator-type account. I suggested that he change it to an ordinary user and then change it back to an administrator account. Sometimes, this kind of change sequence is effectively fixes settings that have been messed up.