How do I reset / recover my lost Microsoft Account password?
Now that I've moved into the world of Windows 8, I'm finally trying to get started with SkyDrive and find that it requires I log in to my Microsoft Account. I never even knew I had a Microsoft account, actually, but my guess is that it's based on my Hotmail account info or something. In any case, I can't remember my password. What's my option to regain access and recover my password?
You're right about your Microsoft Account being based on previous accounts you might have set up with different Microsoft properties, notably either Windows Live Messenger or Hotmail (now called Outlook.com, of course). However you slice it, really the easiest way to deal with a lost password is to simply set up a new account and start over. But that's tedious and it can be annoying to have multiple accounts and not know what's what.
As with every other service, however, Microsoft has a password recovery program, though it's really a "verify your identity and we'll let you reset your password to something new" if you really want to be honest about it. Thing is, Microsoft keeps track of all your old passwords (presumably in an encrypted manner, so they're not all just sitting on a server somewhere in the clear, waiting to have some enterprising hacker extract everything!). As you'll see, shortly!
When I was recently writing about SkyDrive I had the same issue, actually, that I couldn't remember my account password. Here's how I fixed things...
First off, I logged in to my Microsoft account. Or thought I did, but it turns out that, well, the password I entered was incorrect:
After trying a number of possibilities, I cried "uncle!" and clicked on the "Can't access your account?" link, which took me to one of those accursed captcha things:
You know the drill, enter your account email address and the letters represented by the captcha to prove you're human, not a robot. In this case, it's HSKWWtKY. Then click "Next".
There are two main ways you can reset your account password, either by having a temporary one-use password emailed to the primary email address you've specified for your account or, if you have been smart enough to register your cellphone number with the Microsoft account management system in the past, have them send you a code to your phone.
I'll choose the latter, it's faster and more instant gratification, by clicking on the button adjacent to "Send a code to my phone".
It then shows a confirmation of what number it's going to use by just listing the last two digits:
Click on "Send code" and a moment or two later a text message shows up on your phone similar to this:
Enter that code too (it's a one-time code, so don't get too excited I published it here) then click on "Submit". Now you've proved you're who you say you are, or at least that you have access to that particular cell phone, and you're ready to proceed:
If you think you can just use your previous password or another one that you "always" use on different sites -- which really isn't a very good idea -- then it'll complain once you've entered it twice and clicked on "Next" again:
No worries, just pick a new password. Easy trick: append a punctuation mark or two, so "doris" could become "doris!!" and voila, it's a new password.
Enter your desired password twice, click "Next" and it'll take you directly to a log in page:
As always, if you're on your own computer and it's secure, check "Keep me signed in", but definitely do not do if it's a shared device of any type. Enter your email and the new password you just entered, and click on "Sign in".
Now Microsoft Account center will actually prompt you to update your personal information that's on file. Smart idea to do so!
You can see that I always ensure that my cellphone -- without which it couldn't have sent me that text message -- and alternative email address are shown. While I'm here, I'll also add a security question, just for additional insurance against potentially forgetting or losing my password again.
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