Reset local Windows password for Azure VM offline

Applies to: ✔️ Windows VMs

You can reset the local Windows password of a VM in Azure using the Azure portal or Azure PowerShell provided the Azure guest agent is installed. This method is the primary way to reset a password for an Azure VM. If you encounter issues with the Azure guest agent not responding, or failing to install after uploading a custom image, you can manually reset a Windows password. This article details how to reset a local account password by attaching the source OS virtual disk to another VM. The steps described in this article do not apply to Windows domain controllers.


Only use this process as a last resort. Always try to reset a password using the Azure portal or Azure PowerShell first.

Overview of the process

The core steps for performing a local password reset for a Windows VM in Azure when there is no access to the Azure guest agent is as follows:

  1. Stop the affected VM.
  2. Create a snapshot for the OS disk of the VM.
  3. Create a copy of the OS disk from the snapshot.
  4. Attach and mount the copied OS disk to another Windows VM, then create some config files on the disk. The files will help you to reset the password.
  5. Unmount and detach the copied OS disk from the troubleshooting VM.
  6. Swap the OS disk for the affected VM.

Detailed steps for the VM with Resource Manager deployment


The steps do not apply to Windows domain controllers. It only works on standalone server or a server that is a member of a domain.

Always try to reset a password using the Azure portal or Azure PowerShell before trying the following steps. Make sure you have a backup of your VM before you start.

  1. Take a snapshot for the OS disk of the affected VM, create a disk from the snapshot, and then attach the disk to a troubleshoot VM. For more information, see Troubleshoot a Windows VM by attaching the OS disk to a recovery VM using the Azure portal.

  2. Connect to the troubleshooting VM using Remote Desktop.

  3. Create gpt.ini in \Windows\System32\GroupPolicy on the source VM's drive (if gpt.ini exists, rename to gpt.ini.bak):


    Make sure that you do not accidentally create the following files in C:\Windows, the OS drive for the troubleshooting VM. Create the following files in the OS drive for your source VM that is attached as a data disk.

    Add the following lines into the gpt.ini file you created:


    Screenshot shows the updates made to the gpt.ini file.

  4. Create scripts.ini in \Windows\System32\GroupPolicy\Machine\Scripts\. Make sure hidden folders and file name extensions are shown. If needed, create the Machine or Scripts folders.

    Add the following lines the scripts.ini file you created:


    Screenshot shows the updates made to the script.ini file.

  5. Create FixAzureVM.cmd in \Windows\System32\GroupPolicy\Machine\Scripts\Startup\ with the following contents, replacing <username> and <newpassword> with your own values:

    net user <username> <newpassword> /add /Y
    net localgroup administrators <username> /add
    net localgroup "remote desktop users" <username> /add

    Screenshot shows the newly created FixAzureVM.cmd file where you update the username and password.

    You must meet the configured password complexity requirements for your VM when defining the new password.

  6. In Azure portal, detach the disk from the troubleshooting VM.

  7. Change the OS disk for the affected VM.

  8. After the new VM is running, connect to the VM using Remote Desktop with the new password you specified in the FixAzureVM.cmd script.

  9. From your remote session to the new VM, remove the following files to clean up the environment:

    • From %windir%\System32\GroupPolicy\Machine\Scripts\Startup
      • remove FixAzureVM.cmd
    • From %windir%\System32\GroupPolicy\Machine\Scripts
      • remove scripts.ini
    • From %windir%\System32\GroupPolicy
      • remove gpt.ini (if gpt.ini existed before, and you renamed it to gpt.ini.bak, rename the .bak file back to gpt.ini)

Next steps

If you still cannot connect using Remote Desktop, see the RDP troubleshooting guide. The detailed RDP troubleshooting guide looks at troubleshooting methods rather than specific steps. You can also open an Azure support request for hands-on assistance.

Contact us for help

If you have questions or need help, create a support request, or ask Azure community support. You can also submit product feedback to Azure feedback community.