Windows XP: Removing Syskey Startup Password

The issue:

Computer shows only a black screen with the following text: Windows XP Startup Password – This computer is configured to require a password in order to start up. Please enter the Startup Password Below. This occurred after a client got on a phone call with someone claiming to be from “Windows”. The phone call started going bad for the would-be-scammer and he decided incapacitate the computer.

Windows XP prompting the user to input a syskey password.

Windows XP prompting the user to input a syskey password.

The Troubleshooting:

After a quick search I realized the program is called “Syskey“.

The solution:

If you have a restore point from before this was set, copy the registry hives from the restore point into your active registry’s folder (Normally C:\Windows\System32\config\). If you don’t know how to do this from a non-booting copy of Windows XP just follow these directions to learn how to do just that with the use of a Knoppix live CD. Don’t forget to backup your old hives and to run a system restore after the process is complete.

How did this happen in the first place?

Here is the process to lock your computer using Syskey.

Process for setting up Syskey on Windows XP.

Process for setting up Syskey on Windows XP.

  1. First bring up the “Run” dialog box by clicking Start -> Run… or by pressing [Windows Key] + R
  2. Type syskey in the “Open:” field.
  3. Click OK
  4. On the new window: choose Update.
  5. On the Startup Key” window: choose the Password Startup radio button.
  6. Type in the Password you wish to set.
  7. Type in the password again to Confirm it.
  8. Click OK on the “Startup Key” window.
  9. Click OK on the Success window.

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