Quick Tip: Unlocking a Windows Workstation ~ Ask The Admin

Monday, September 10, 2007

Quick Tip: Unlocking a Windows Workstation

I get calls all of the time complaining that someone used their computer, forgot to log out and now the computer is locked. I thought this was common knowledge because when I was in the Navy, and we had 6 computers to share between a crew of 500, people would always forget to log out. The thing about common knowledge is that it really isn't common.

When people call me, there are two things that can be done. One is to remote into that machine, and use my administrator account to unlock the computer for them.

The second can be done by the user who wants to login that computer without even having to call me. What they can do is simply reboot the computer. They can do this by holding the power button down for about thirty seconds until the computer powers down. After it is powered down, they can wait another 30 seconds, then turn it back on. When Windows boots up, the computer will be unlocked.

You have to be careful about doing this with older versions of Windows because they tend to get cranky when not shut down properly, and sometimes won't boot back up. For Windows 2K or Windows XP, this usually doesn't hurt them too bad, if at all. The biggest thing you will have to worry about is if the person who forgot to log off didn't save whatever they were working on before you reboot. If they didn't save it, then they will lose everything. I suppose they should have thought of that before forgetting to log out though...