Decommission / repurpose a network of computers with Active Directory domain, and no Administrator password


A friend bought a group of computers at auction from a business that closed down an office. There are 9 workstations, mostly dells, all running 7 pro, with stickers on the cases, and a server running 2008 Foundation server. The server has raid 1 with 3 drives (how does that work? lol) and 1 is reporting smart errors. It does boot, but we don't have any passwords; I tried NT Offline Password editor, but it throws an error at the last step of saving the changes back to the system.

The workstations are fair, and some we've tested seem to be running okay. Is there any way to disjoin the workstations properly without a password to the server? Or am I just going to have to reinstall windows 7?

If it was windows 8, I'd run the reset function, or if 10 was available yet, I'd upgrade it, and then reset it...

Any ideas?



You may try replacing the utilman.exe trick to get into the server.

You may try replacing the utilman.exe trick to get into the server.

I'd do a fresh installation on everything. It may even be illegal to use the installed OS, as you could gather info that belonged to the previous company or that could hold sensitive data on their ex employees, customers etc. Normally such PC's should have come without OS's installed, or then at least with the OS freshly installed.

The 3rd disk in the RAID 1 array is/was probably a "hot-spare".

I would agree with rindi. You don't really know the state of the software on all of the computers. There could be viruses or other issues.
I would wipe the drives first (I use ActiveKillDisk) and then reinstall everything.

If you look in the RAID configuration utility (accessed through a key sequence, possibly Ctrl-I or Ctrl-R at the appropriate boot prompt) you can confirm how the drives are configured.

Looking at the procedure for resetting the domain admin password now...

What I had thought to do with the workstations was unjoin the domain, create a new user, and then delete all other users. Finally, run nullfile.exe to overwrite any bits on the drive that could be undeleted.

The bummer about reinstalling is having to play games with drivers. Granted the Dells do have service tags, but it's still extra trouble that I was hoping to avoid.

You are correct that drivers will take some extra time to add, but shouldn't be too bad if they are available from Dell for the version of Windows you are installing. If they are the same model, you can use SysPrep and image the drives, minimizing the duplicate work.

I think that is cheap "insurance" to know that you have a good installation of Windows. Otherwise you have no idea and will wonder about it with every problem.

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