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Understanding and Using Windows Passwords

This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows 7 and Vista.
Using a password can protect your information from unauthorized use. However, using the incorrect password, or forgetting your password, can prevent you from accessing your computer. To promote security, you can set your computer to require that you enter a password before accessing files.
Multiple levels of password security are built into your HP computer:
  • Windows login: Using this password prevents unauthorized access to the operating system and programs.
  • Windows Administrator login (or an account with administrator privileges): Using this password allows you to access and change most, but not all, of the settings that affect other accounts.
  • Power-On login: Using this password provides additional protection if you use your computer in public places. If you lose your computer or it is stolen, the computer can only be opened by someone who knows the password.
  • Drive Lock login: Using this password protects the data on your hard drive through encryption.
During the log-in process, you must enter a password for each security level that you enabled on the computer. It is a good idea to write down all of your passwords and keep them in a secure place away from the computer.
This document explains the levels of password security, how to set up passwords and power-on passwords, how to use drive-lock passwords, how to change passwords from the administrator account, and how to create and use a password reset disc.
What if you forget your password?
If you forget your password, make sure that you are entering the password correctly. Remember that passwords are case-sensitive, so, if the Caps Lock or Num Lock keys are turned on while you are typing your password, your password will not work - unless your password only contains capital letters and numbers. Turn off the Caps Lock and Num Lock. Then, after you have successfully entered your password, turn the key locks back on - if you want them on.
If the password still does not work, follow the steps below to view your password hint.
  1. Press the enter key at the logon screen. The text The user name or password is incorrect displays.
  2. Click OK. The logon screen displays with the password hint directly beneath the Password field.
If you still do not remember your password, and you have created a Password Reset disc, insert your password reset disk. Then click Reset password, and follow the on-screen instructions in the Password Reset Wizard.
You can now either logon as the administrator (assuming that you have set up an administrator account and you use an individual account), or you can reformat the hard drive and return the computer to its original configuration.
For information about creating and using a Password Reset disc, see Creating and using a password reset disk in this document.
Types of accounts and security
There are three types of accounts:
  • Standard User account - can use most of the installed software, and can change OS settings that do not affect other accounts.
  • User account with administrator privileges - has access to the computer and can change most, but not all, of the settings that affect all other accounts.
  • Administrator account - has complete access to the computer and can change settings that affect all of the accounts and the security of the computer.
    The Administrator account does not exist in Windows Vista Starter, Windows Vista Home Basic, or Windows Vista Home Premium editions.
For security purposes, you should create and use two accounts: a standard account for normal, everyday use, and a different account with administrator privileges that is only used for installing and configuring applications. If a virus attacks the computer and tries to control the standard account, it can do little damage because the standard account cannot change any OS settings. However, if you use an administrator account all the time, the same virus could do more damage because the administrator account can make changes to the OS settings.
If you forget or lose one of these passwords, use one of the following methods to access the computer.
Methods for changing passwords
You can change your own user password or, if you have administrator privileges, you can reset a forgotten password.
Creating and using a password reset disk
If you tend to forget information, like passwords, you can create and use a password reset disk to logon to Windows. This disk can be either a CD disc or a USB storage device. Devices called flash drives, memory sticks, or thumb drives are examples of valid USB external storage devices.
Restoring your PC to original condition
In the event that you have lost all of your administrator account passwords, and you do not have a password reset disk available to change or restore the password, you will have to re-image your computer.
If you have a factory-installed image on your computer, you may do so by turning the computer off, turning it back on, and pressing the f11 key before the Windows Vista logo screen appears. Then follow the directions on screen.
If you have installed Windows Vista yourself, you may have to reinstall the operating system manually.


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