How to reset lost SBS 2008 domain admin password

most techs have no doubt heard of and probably even used the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor to reset an unknown password on the various “NT” flavors of Windows (2000, XP, Vista, etc.). one limitation, though, is that it is useful only on local user accounts, not domain user accounts. so if you run into a situation like i did where you need to reset a lost or forgotten domain admin password on an Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 box, the Offline NT Password Reset tool won’t be of any use.

a google search will quickly find several results for “reset lost server 2008 domain password,” but many of them will direct you to utilities you have to pay for, or will require you to download certain admin tools from Microsoft. however, all you need is a Server 2008 installation DVD, or in my case, the Small Business Server 2008 installation DVD.

  • restart the server and boot to the DVD
  • after selecting the appropriate installation language, select Repair Your Computer
  • start command prompt, and change the command line path to C: by entering c:
  • enter cd c:\windows\system32
  • enter ren utilman.exe *.bak
  • enter copy cmd.exe utilman.exe
  • restart the server. this time do not boot to the DVD, just boot normally
  • at the login screen, press the Windows+U keys on your keyboard. this will bring up the command prompt
  • enter net user [server admin username] [new password]
    • on a regular Server 2008 install, [server admin username] will probably be administrator, but it could be any domain username with domain admin rights. [new password] will be the new password you want to set. if password complexity is enabled (which is the default on Server 2008) you will need have some UPPER case letters and/or numbers and/or symbols in the password.
    • on SBS 2008, the administrator account is disabled by default. even if you reset the administrator password, you still won’t be able to login because the account will still be disabled. instead of administrator, you would use the server admin user name that was used when the server was first setup. if you don’t know the user name, you can enter net user to get a list of all domain user accounts. it won’t show you what users have what privileges, but it could help jog your memory
  • now go back to the login screen and log in with the user name and new password you just set. for user name, be sure to use the domainusername format
  • once you have verified that you can log in with the new password, repeat steps 1-4
  • enter ren utilman.bak *.exe
  • restart the server and boot normally

and that’s it!

You may also like...

10 Responses

  1. Ian says:

    well this should work if You can install hdd drivers on boot, otherwise this wont work.

  2. Ben says:

    Thanks! This method definitely works. For reasons unknown, the admin password I normally use to access a client’s server was not being accepted [and everyone with access claims it hadn’t been changed]. Being an SBS 08 server, the Administrator account was disabled of course. I thought I was f**ked until I found this solution!

  3. Dado says:

    Thanks too much! it work very well. No need again to reinstall my SBS 2008 server.

  4. Kurt M says:

    Thank you so much for this! Saved me countless hours!!

  5. Tami says:

    Wow this was great. worked real nice for me

  6. Richard says:

    Great tutorial! Besides Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, there are also many other excellent tools such as PCUnlocker Live CD, which supports password resetting for both local / domain user account and Windows 8 Microsoft account.

  7. Sir Michael says:

    This was unbelievably easy… after I figured out where the utliman.exe was in SBS2008 “C:\windows\system32 and the proper format is “new user username password —> I was such a dope trying to figure out the format ;(

    Anyways, this was extremely easy and can’t thank you enough. Saved me tons of time and my life! Sir Michael

  8. Tom says:

    I boot from cd but on repair option i cant find c drive only x drive showing

  9. Jake Gardner says:

    Thanks this article really helped me with my SBS server. Lucky I had the install disk 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *