|I've seen many posts over the years, and have responded to many of them, where the person claims they bought or were given a computer from a friend or relative or elsewhere and that person they bought it from couldn't remember a password that they had to use every time they booted the computer.|
It's possible that person can't remember it, but that's extremely unlikely.
The thing about laptops is they are relatively easy to steal, and there are zillions of stolen laptops out there. Whether a person stole it themselves, or they bought it off of someone who had stolen it, whether the buyer knew about that initially or not, what do you suppose the user is likely to do when they find out a password is required if they know or suspect the laptop was stolen? They claim they or someone they know has forgotten the password!
We have no way of knowing whether this laptop was stolen, or if it wasn't, whether you should be allowed to access someone else's personal User profile. .
Do you mean you need the password for the Logon to Windows screen? I find it suspicious for the relative not to know that.
I could tell you how to change the password without losing any of the data in the passworded User's profile which will allow you to access it with your own (or no) password (if and only if some other User such as Administrator in Safe mode has no password and has administrator rights) , but I'm NOT going to, because there's a possibilty you should not have the right to access it.
(If some other User such as Administrator in Safe mode has no password and has administrator rights, you can Delete the passworded User profile, and make your own User profile the next time you boot.)
On the other hand, I have no objection to you re-loading the original software or just reloading Windows from scratch.
You should NOT need to access someone else's personal User profile.
If you have the Recovery CD or similar that came with the computer, or an OEM regular Windows CD, you can reload the original software or just Windows from scratch without you having to know the password.
If don't have a Recovery CD or similar for this computer, if you have a OEM regular Windows CD for the same version of Windows (Home or Pro) (if you don't have one you can use someone else's XP CD, or a bootable copy of one, preferably on a CD-R disk) you can install Windows from scratch with it, along with the Product Key on the official Microsoft label, which is probably on the bottom on the laptop.
OR - if this computer is no more than about 5 yearsold, you may be able to buy a Recovery CD or similar set from the brand name's web site - e.g. I did that for a friend's HP laptop - she had lost track of where her original Recovery CDs were - that cost about $45 - that's a lot less than buying an OEM XP Home CD .
If you would like us to find out whether you can get such a CD or DVD set, tell us the make and model of the laptop - e.g. if it's a HP or Compaq model, supply the specific model number found on the label on the outside of the laptop, probably on the bottom of it - if it's a Dell, go to the Dell web site and look up your specific model by using your Service tag code info.
If you mean you are prompted for a password before that, in order to access the computer at all, or it's hard drive, that's determined by the motherboard's bios Setup settings, and it would be extremely suspicious for the relative not to know that.
Whether the password(s) can be removed depends on how old the model is - if it's less than about ten years old, the passwords are stored on a separate chip other than the bios chip on the mboard, that chip's data contents cannot be erased by removing the main or the cmos battery, and/or the passwords are stored on the hard drive in a location that is not accessible by any normal means.
Even the experts find it difficult to remove passwords from such a laptop. In some cases for some makes/models we have info about, but in most cases we don't.
If you don't mind putting out the bucks, the chip the passwords are stored on can be replaced by an expert with one that is already programmed, or you can replace the mboard with another used one that has that chip with no passwords enabled, but if the hard drive access is passworded you still won't be able to access the hard drive - most techs just replace the hard drive in that case.
"Password recovery software is readily available if you know how to use google."
There's that possibilty, but in most cases that software only works on OLD laptops.