How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account


  1. Posts : 44
    Windows 10 Pro x64 version 1909
       #1

    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account


    I need help with accessing the Recovery Environment while the built -in administrator account is disabled.
    The error message that I'm getting is

    "You need to sign in as an administrator to continue but there aren't any administrator accounts on this PC"

    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-img_20210418_020640.jpg

    The issue might be that the only account that is active on the computer is a Microsoft account. This is the main account that I use when I use the computer. This account is in the administrators group.

    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-accounts.png

    Here are some thoughts and some more details on my setup:
    • Is it possible to enter Windows RE with a Microsoft account?
    • I believe that it should be possible to use Windows RE with an account other than the built-in administrator. The error message reads 'an administrator' no 'the (built-in) administrator' account. Does it have to be a local account?
    • When I google this error, the solution seems to be to enable the built -in administrator account. I don't doubt that this would work, but I disabled that account for security reasons.
    • I cannot enable/disable the built -in administrator on an as-needed basis, when I need to access Windows RE as the assumption must be that when if I need Windows RE, Windows does not boot anymore and I can't enable the built -in administrator account.
    • Would I need to create an additional, local administrator account, that isn't a Microsoft account to access Windows RE?


    - - - Updated - - -

    Update: It is fixed.

    Here is what happend:
    I activated the built-in administrator and rebooted just to see if I could enter Windows RE, and suddenly two accounts were available to log in: the built-in administrator and my main account.

    Then I rebooted, deactivated the built-in administrator again and booted in Win RE again and now I could login with my main account without issues!
      My Computer


  2. Posts : 11,391
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H2 Build 19044.1706
       #2

    Your main account has been corrupted but seems to have recovered.
    - The fact that the user account was an MSAccount-linked user account does not explain what happened to you.
    - It used to be said that a single occurrence need not be of any concern because it might have been the case that anti-malware just happened to be checking that user profile at the precise moment that Windows was trying to open it.
    - As a guard against being afflicted with the problem again, I suggest you create one or two additional [spare] local, password-protected Admin accounts so you can recover from any corruption that afflicts your day-to-day user account.
    Add Local Account or Microsoft Account - TenForumsTutorials
    Change to Admin account type - TenForumsTutorials

    Add Local Account - ElevenForumTutorials
    Change to Admin account type in Windows 11 - In the above ElevenForumTutorial, Option 1 Step 10 shows the Change account type button and it is used in the same way as it is in Change to Admin account type - TenForumsTutorials

    Reduce the chances of your user accounts being afflicted with any user profile corruption by never forcefully powering off the computer unless the thing freezes up completely leaving you with no choice.
    -

    • Never turn it off forcefully by holding down the power button for several seconds [as opposed to just pressing it for a moment then letting go], and
    • Never turn it off by removing its power supply, and
    • Never turn it off while Windows update is trying to install updates.



    Write all user account passwords down somewhere secure yet readily accessible. Writing down their passwords is as effective as & is a lot cheaper than making 'Password reset disks' [which are only for local accounts anyway]. I always write user account passwords down on a strip of paper that I keep inside one of those dog nametag cylinder things attached to my main keyring -
    Here's a [UK] link for some example ID tags https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pet-Barrel-.../dp/B00DEB1JVQ There are lots of available choices but I bought ones that, like these, have a slot in the bottom for me to swing off so I can be confident they won't come apart accidentally while I'm out & about.

    I get the impression that people who take this precaution just create one additional account.
    - I created one and I use it routinely for fault investigation. This means that my day-to-day account does not have any unnecessary additional access permissions and this limits how far malware could spread if I was infected.
    - I created the second because it occurred to me that, since I was using the first spare one sometimes, I might mess it up. I appreciate that this is probably overkill. I have never used the second one so its profile should never be corrupted.

    Denis
    Last edited by Try3; 19 Oct 2021 at 09:40.
      My Computer


  3. Posts : 354
    Windows 10 v. 21H1, Build 19043.1348
       #3

    For all of my passwords, I have a 4 digit cipher. (e.g. 8438). I note all of my passwords in a spreadsheet that is password protected, but of course that's for simple defeat. A real hacker can bust through that. But what they'll find is something like:
    username | jimbo283
    password | jb-_8*-TenF!
    The "8*" means "8438". The asterisk is a wildcard. How many digits? They'll think 1 but there's 3. The 4 digit cipher is a code unique to me (not SSN) that I will never forget. The letters after the last dash are usually a 4 letter code for the site, so TenF for Ten Forums. AMZN for Amazon, etc. And if I need to make a variation, I can throw in a number before or after the site code, or move the bang (!) before the site code, for example.
      My Computers


  4. Posts : 11,391
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H2 Build 19044.1706
       #4

    cytherian said:
    I note all of my passwords in a spreadsheet that is password protected, but of course that's for simple defeat. A real hacker can bust through that.
    What makes you say that? Office 2003 passwords were the last poorly-implemented ones.

    Denis
      My Computer


  5. Posts : 354
    Windows 10 v. 21H1, Build 19043.1348
       #5

    Try3 said:
    What makes you say that? Office 2003 passwords were the last poorly-implemented ones.
    Denis
    I had an exchange with an IT guy on Reddit about password tracking. He uses a "password locker" program of some kind, swears by it. I didn't want to incur much overhead and rely upon a proprietary program for this, so I told him about my pw storage technique. He winced when I mentioned using a password protected Excel file, claiming it doesn't take much for a skilled hacker to break through the password on that. So was he basing this on legacy, 2003 and earlier when it was fairly easy? Also, if it's much tougher now, is Microsoft's encryption scheme more "durable" than something like Open Office or Libra? Or are they all pretty much leveraging the same degree of encryption strength?
      My Computers


  6. Posts : 11,391
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H2 Build 19044.1706
       #6

    cytherian said:
    He winced when I mentioned using a password protected Excel file, claiming it doesn't take much for a skilled hacker to break through the password on that. So was he basing this on legacy, 2003 and earlier when it was fairly easy?
    When I was researching this topic, I found many attitudes had been set in stone with Office 2003 and had never been reviewed.

    This extended to tools claiming to be able to crack Office passwords. It seemed that many tools & their websites had merely crossed out Office 2003 then written in Office 2007 without a thought.

    Office 2003 passwords were not even worth the time it took you to enter them.

    Office 2007 was the big leap forward. Office Excel-Word 2007 passwords are robust - they can only be cracked by slow brute force / dictionary attacks. I consolidated my notes in
    My password policy ditty - MSA
    - if you want to comment then do so here because I do not use that other forum anymore.
    - I also posted some notes in another ditty about my password policy - TenForums

    I tried several password cracking tools that claimed to be able to crack Office 2007 passwords and not one of them was able to [unless I dropped down to ridiculously simple passwords of, say, six characters].

    Note
    - My references to Office passwords are for those set to control opening files. I did not investigate passwords intended to protect content internally [Protect sheet, Protect workbook functions, Protect VBA code].
    - MS Office Access 2007 passwords for databases under 25MB were said by many sources to be crackable by means other than brute force / dictionary attacks and were therefore extremely insecure. I just took their word for it because I already intended to use Excel files for sensitive data so I could open the files on my Android phone as well.
    - I concentrated on Excel because of its ability to structure data well but I never found any reason to suppose that MS Office Word 2007 passwords were any weaker than Excel ones.

    Office 2010 was even better than Office 2007 but I never managed to quantify how much better. In addition, I was focussing on Office 2007.
    - The improvement was due to enforcing the use of slower algorithms in password deciphering. Even third-party password crackers need to use Office components for this stage.

    Office 2013+
    I never considered later versions at all.

    cytherian said:
    Also, if it's much tougher now, is Microsoft's encryption scheme more "durable" than something like Open Office or Libra? Or are they all pretty much leveraging the same degree of encryption strength?
    My Excel 2007 passwords are a minimum of 21 random characters. They will stand a 1/1,000,000 chance of being brute force / dictionary attacked & cracked [assuming estimated year 2055-ish technologies] within the 100 hour processing window that many password-cracking services offered as their 'standard' service.
    - I assumed a doubling of technological capabilities every year so my results would be valid for 25 or so years from now.

    I know nothing of password protection in Open Office or Libra.

    All the best,
    Denis
      My Computer


  7. Posts : 354
    Windows 10 v. 21H1, Build 19043.1348
       #7

    Try3 said:
    My Excel 2007 passwords area minimum of 21 random characters. They will stand a 1/1,000,000 chance of being brute force / dictionary attacked & cracked [assuming estimated year 2055-ish technologies] within the 100 hour processing window that many password-cracking services offered as their 'standard' service.
    - I assumed a doubling of technological capabilities every year so my results would be valid for 25 or so years from now.
    I know nothing of password protection in Open Office or Libra.
    All the best,
    Denis
    Wow, 21 random characters? How do you keep track of that? Certainly it'd be a major pain to memorize...

    About the hacking, it wasn't so much the PW cracking that's the concern, as much as the ability to reverse engineer the binary file and extract the raw data inside. The PW is only meant to act as a GUI gate. Unless at this point, the PW set actually is used as a seed for the encryption of the binary file... in which case, it would have to be deciphered.
      My Computers


  8. Posts : 11,391
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H2 Build 19044.1706
       #8

    cytherian said:
    Wow, 21 random characters? How do you keep track of that? Certainly it'd be a major pain to memorize...
    I don't memorize them. They are written down in a password-protected Excel 2007 file and its password is written down on paper [and on a second piece of paper that is held by a relative].

    cytherian said:
    About the hacking, it wasn't so much the PW cracking that's the concern, as much as the ability to reverse engineer the binary file and extract the raw data inside. The PW is only meant to act as a GUI gate. Unless at this point, the PW set actually is used as a seed for the encryption of the binary file... in which case, it would have to be deciphered.
    Office passwords are indeed required to access/decrypt/extract file contents. Office passwords are not simply a GUI gate.


    Denis
      My Computer


  9. Posts : 11,391
    Windows 10 Home x64 Version 21H2 Build 19044.1706
       #9

    cytherian said:
    About the hacking, it wasn't so much the PW cracking that's the concern, as much as the ability to reverse engineer the binary file and extract the raw data inside. The PW is only meant to act as a GUI gate. Unless at this point, the PW set actually is used as a seed for the encryption of the binary file... in which case, it would have to be deciphered.
    Try3 said:
    Office passwords are indeed required to access/decrypt/extract file contents. Office passwords are not simply a GUI gate.
    Cytherian,

    It occurs to me that it is possible to demonstrate that MS Office passwords are not merely a 'GUI gate'.

    An MS Office Excel file is .xml-based. It is essentially a container for a set of .xml [& similar] files.
    - For a non-password-protected Excel, it is possible to see those components [without any use of MS Office].
    - For a password-protected Excel, it is not possible to see those components.

    To demonstrate this:-

    Stage 1 - non-password-protected Excel file

    1.1 Create a test file. Here is one - TestFile-Open.xlsx
    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-testfile-open-excel-screenshot.png

    1.2 Rename its file extension to .zip
    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-testfile-open-renamed-file.png

    1.3 Open the file in any .zip file viewer [I use WinZip] and you'll see its internal structure
    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-testfile-open-internal-structure.png

    1.4 You can also view its contents. Within the subfolder xl, you'll find
    1.4.1 List of worksheets - open the file workbook.xml [browsers display .xml files quite well]
    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-contents-sharedstrings.xml.png
    1.4.2 Worksheet contents - open the file sharedStrings.xml
    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-contents-workbook.xml.png

    Stage 2 - password-protected Excel file

    2.1 Make a copy of the test file used for step 1.1. Use Excel 2007's SaveAs, Tools to assign a 'Password to open' then Save the file.
    Excel 2010+ have the same capability but their interfaces look different.
    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-assign-password-open.png
    Here is mine - TestFile-PW.xlsx Its password is 12345

    2.2 Rename its file extension to .zip
    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-testfile-pw-renamed-file.png

    2.3 Try to open the file in any .zip file viewer. It will not open. It will not allow anything to be extracted.

    2.4 You can also try opening the password-protected Excel file in a text editor such as Notepad and you'll see references to it being encrypted.
    How to access Window RE without built-in Administrator account-testfile-pw-notepad-encrypted.png

    3 My conclusion
    - MS Office passwords are not simply a GUI gate.


    All the best,
    Denis
      My Computer


 

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