So this is my problem: A couple of days ago, my computer crashed, and after restarting, the login screen was blank. I had been previously using only a single account, with its password disabled, so all I did was just click on the icon and I would be logged in. My computer had been previously infected by malware, though I had cleaned it out (with the generous help of people on this forum), and it had been working fine for the past month.
I tried a whole bunch of things to regain access to my computer, which are all based on the suggestions I found posted on web forums when people had a similar problem:
- I attempted to reboot in safe mode - no result - the icons did not reappear
- I tried ctrl-alt-del twice, and manually entered the user and password (blank) to the account. I remembered that a year ago I the account had its password configured before I disabled it, so I tried the old password just for good measure. No result.
- I did a windows recovery reinstall. Although it did not solve the problem, it allowed me to install another user account. But when I logged into it, I found it had no admin privileges, and did not allow me to access my data or to access user accounts in control panel
- I realised at this point that I could also access two other accounts - 'administrator' and 'owner', but both turned out not to have any admin privileges and for all practical purposes are clones of the new user account I created when I reinstalled windows.
- I tried running chkdsk c: /r from the recovery console from the windows install CD. It said it fixed errors, but did not solve the problem.
- I downloaded Winternals ERD Commander 2005 on a friend's computer, burned a bootable CD and ran it on the broken system. I tried using the Locksmith app to change the password for the main account. It didn't work. I spend hours trying, and soon discovered that I could use Locksmith to change the password of every other account (the new one I created, administrator and user) EXCEPT for the original one which has all my data!
I'm starting to feel I have exhausted all possibilities, though I guess the good news is that Commander allows me to regain access to my lost data. Ideally, however, I'd like to regain control over my computer, and all the stuff I have on it, without having to do that painful step of data recovery and reformatting.
Am I missing something obvious, or are there any other steps I can possibly take? My guess is that this is some sort of registry f-up. I did not want to touch the registry without knowing what I'm doing. Are there any other apps which I could try to run? Is there anything useful I can do in recovery console apart from running chkdsk? Is there a way to use ERD Commander to provide an account with admin control?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.