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How to Activate Windows Server 2008's Local Administrator

How to Activate Windows Server 2008's Local Administrator
Guy Thomas

Guy Thomas is a computer consultant and writer with attitude and a great sense of humor.

Windows Server 2008 has a hidden administrator account.  This super-user account is only of use on a member server where you normally logon to the domain, but now need to logon to the local 'SAM' database.  The method to activate the administrator is almost identical of that for Vista; the only difference that springs to mind is that in Windows Server 2008 people are more likely to deactivate than to activate this account.

If you are going to activate and use this administrator account, then you need to know its password.  Therefore a preliminary step is to set, and especially to remember, the password.  Naturally, if all you want to is deactivate you don't need to worry about the password, and thus could avoid this step.

Quick method to activate an account

  1. Logon to your Windows Server 2008 using another account with administrative privileges.
  2. Launch the cmd prompt - Make sure you select, 'Run as administrator'
  3. Net user administrator p@$$w0rD
  4. Net user administrator /active:yes
  5. Switch User, or logoff
  6. Logon as administrator  Password p@$$w0rD 
    To be precise, you need to be HostName/administrator not Domain/Administrator

Detailed Instructions to Activate the Administrator

  1. Logon to the server using your normal domain admin username and password.
  2. Click on the Start button
  3. Click on Start Search. 
  4. Type:cmd. 
  5. Right-click cmd, select 'Run as administrator' from the shortcut menu.
  6. At the command line type:
    Net help user
  7. My idea is for you to just observe Net User options.  In particular, check the syntax to set the password.
  8. The next instruction is the crucial command.  I have chosen password = p£ssworD, you may want to choose a different password.
  9. Net user administrator p@$$w0rD
  10. Net user administrator /active:yes
  11. Check the message : The command completed successfully
  12. Switch User, or logoff
  13. Logon as Hostname/Administrator  Password p@$$w0rD  (Your password may be different!)
    Where Hostname is the computer name of the Windows Server 2008 computer.

Trap1:  You need a forward-slash before /active

     Net user administrator active:yes    is wrong
     Net user administrator /active:yes    is correct

Trap2:  There should be no space between the word 'active' and the ':'.

    /active  :yes   is wrong.  
    /active:yes     is correct.

Tip 1:  You can also activate and deactivate the guest account.

Tip 2: The key word in the deactivate command is the word:no

     Net user administrator /active:no.