My 90-year old senile father locked out from Windows 10


I am a bit desperate! Have tried MS-support but …

My father has fumbled with the keyboard and locked him self out of Win10.
He has a wonderful photo-collection and music-collection there that he (and I) wants to savior.

I it possible to boot from Archlabs or other Distro to be able to copy photos and music to an external drive?

Someone with similar experiance?


If the W10 partitions are not encrypted, you should be able to access them from a Linux live environment. Use a Manjaro or Debian live image to boot into the PC and mount the disk partitions from the File Manager.

You may need to install ntfs-3g.

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Yes thanks!
I will try!

(hopefully not encrypted!!)


Just to reiterate - if the drive does not employ encryption. With that caveat out of the way, there are ways to still access the drive if it is. It takes a bit of faking windows out but in short, you power off the system while its in the process of booting up. May have to do that several time. Eventually, Windows will come to a repair screen. From there (and I don’t recall the exact item you need to look for) but it should eventually ask you to unlock the drive. If it does, you should be prompted with a URL to reveal a very long code that will unlock the drive.

You can Google this and get the exact process - the above is “in a nut shell”.

Good luck!

Thanks! Will try this if drive is encrypted!


You can use chntpw to read Windows passwords from the ArchLabs live ISO:

Guide here: Brief chntpw Tutorial: Resetting Windows Passwords and Editing the Registry in Linux | What is Going On?

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… assuming the drive is not using Bit Locker :slight_smile:
This is what prevented me from reversing bad video drivers on my father in laws system. No way around it unless you reformat the drive. I had to prove to him that his laptop (backlight) was good by booting ArhcLabs live and showing him — Here, see! there is nothing wrong with the system Its the drivers…

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That is almost unbelievable!!



Everyone else’s solution.
I personally dual boot Arch and Win10 and I didn’t do anything special and was able to still access my Window 10 files so there’s hope!

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Yes you should have no problems if things are not encrypted and @Head_on_a_Stick posted some great links that should get your father back into Windows.
Now if my wife locked the doors and windows, there is no getting in. Trust me…


Hi again!

Very grateful for all your hints and help!!

Tomorrow I am going to visit and try some or all methods!!


Lets hope it will work @womp

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There is a feature in Windows 10 called fast start and it’s on by default, so it’s very likely you can’t access the drives in Linux without a bit of work. There is a way to clean what is referred to as dirty drives that will remove the lock on the drives if it’s present. I haven’t used it in a while but do know from experience with my roommates Linux machine that the locks put in place by Windows can be removed with out loosing or harming the data. Please see answer 2 in the below thread. Yes the thread is for Ubuntu, but the fix will work in Arch based distros as well.


Thanks for the heads-up!!
I will look into this!!


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The real question is this. How old is the system that he uses? Is it Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.
If its new enough, I can almost guarantee that the drive will have Bit Locker enabled,

You need to determine this first as all other methods will be useless if Bit Locker is enabled.
Unless… He remembers what the unlocking key is - and from the sounds of it, he very well may not remember or have it written down.

You are absolutely right. My father is not all there anymore. He will probably have things written down on 10 different papers but where these papers are…
I will most likely have to dive in to the Bit Locker!
The system is 4-5 years old I think.

Thank you !!!

I will come back with report tomorrow!


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You may be in good shape then. Since the system is that old, I don’t think they would have turned it on by default. So - everything all the others have been saying, should do well for you.

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Regardless of the age of the win 10 machine bitlocker is always at the endusers discretion.

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This may be true however and as I said - my father in laws 3 week old laptop came with Bit Locker enabled by default. This made the repair near impossible and required him to sent it to (wait for it) HP.
He did not have the option as it appears to have been “the OEM setup”

THIS is what I was getting at.

Now I have been visiting my old dad!

In the quest of retrieving the password for his account I did not succeed!

I was never able to boot from Archlabs usb-image (even though I re-downloaded and made a second usb!) It was never recognized!?
I used Rescatux instead.
I deactivated secure boot in bios.
Was able to mount system data partition and came close enough to see SAM-file.
chntpw could not even read the file!!

I haven’t given up yet!


If I can see SAM-file both in terminal and filemanager then the drive is not encrypted right?
Why can’t I read the file?

My father’s laptop is a HP but I forgot the model.
I am going back there tomorrow after work to try again.