Fix: The referenced account is currently locked out

Windows has always enabled its users to keep multiple accounts on each device in order to separate their personal files. Certain actions still affect all users, such as installing a new program or tweaking certain settings in Control Panel or the Settings app.

There are regular and administrator accounts. Regular accounts are not able to change certain settings or to install software without an administrator’s password and permission and this is done to prevent other users from accessing certain things on a computer used by multiple people. Some issues may arise from these account settings so let’s check them out.

“The referenced account is currently locked out and may not be logged on to” Error

This particular error message usually pops up after a user has typed in his password incorrectly more times than it’s allowed. There is a certain setting you can edit to input just how many times a user is allowed to type his password incorrectly before their account is locked out.

This problem may sound frustrating to a lot of people because they may be unable to access their computer when they need it the most but fixing it is not impossible if you try each of the solutions below.

Solution 1: Simply Wait

If you have typed in the wrong password several times in a row, a security delay will activate and you won’t be able to access your account at all for a certain amount of time (30 minutes at first).

However, if you have failed to access your computer several times in a row, you might need to wait for 24 hours or more before you can sign in again. Be patient and the problem might solve itself.

Solution 2: If You Don’t Feel Like Waiting…

If you are in an emergent need of accessing your account without having to wait the entire day, you might want to try simply changing the time and date settings of your computer before it even boots. This way you can trick Windows into thinking enough time has passed to end the security lockdown so that you can type in your password.

  1. Restart your computer and wait for the boot screen to show up.
  2. Text on the bottom of the screen should read “Press _ to run Setup”. Press the key indicated before the screen goes away.
  3. Take a look at BIOS controls before your start working on anything because you won’t be able to use your mouse to tweak anything.
  4. Navigate to the Main tab and change the system date to anything in the near or far future. This will affect time and date of your Windows OS.
  5. Check to see which button to use to “Save and Exit” and your computer should proceed with startup.
  6. Try entering your password carefully and only once. If it still won’t work, check out other solutions.

Prerequisite for Following Solutions: Activating the Hidden Administrator Account

This particular fix is the most effective to users who are in a situation where they are locked out of their only account on the PC and they have no way of accessing Control Panel or Settings. Luckily, without has hidden an alternative admin account for these situations.

  1. Luckily for you, you don’t even need to be logged in to an account to access the Command Prompt.
  2. On the login screen, click on the Power icon and hold the Shift key while clicking restart.
  3. Instead or restarting, a blue screen will appear with several options. Choose Troubleshoot >> Advanced Options >> Command Prompt.
  4. Copy and paste the following command in Command Prompt and click Enter. You should be able to see the “The command completed successfully” message in no time.

net user administrator /active:yes

  1. Log into this admin account and wait for a couple of minutes before everything is ready.
  2. This will enable you to access your computer if your only account is locked out.

Solution 3: Using a Different Account to Login and Change the Password

Users have reported that they were able to switch to their locked accounts by logging in to different accounts and then switching. It sounds strange but it worked for some people.

  1. Login to the other account you know the password to.
  2. Use the Ctrl + Alt + Del key combination and select Switch User on the blue screen that shows up.
  3. Type the password for your other account and it should work.
  4. Change the password immediately to something else.

Solution 4: Prevent Your Account of Locking Out

This particular fix will enable you to type in your password how many times you won’t without locking you out. This solution is useful to people who mistakenly typed in the wrong password multiple times before realizing it.

  1. Use the Windows Key + R combination to access the Run dialog box or simply search for “run” in the Search bar.
  2. Type “secpol.msc” in the Run window in order to open Local Security Policy settings.
  3. Visit Security Settings >> Account Policy >> Account Lockout Policy
  4. Double click on the Account lockout threshold option and set the invalid logon attempts counter to 0. “Account will not lock out” message should appear.
  5. Now you can try to type in your password as many times as you want.

Solution 5: The Password May Have Expired

Users whose password has a limited age may encounter this issue if their password has expired. If you own another administrator account (which you should if you have activated the hidden one) you can set the password to never expire and log in without problems.

  1. Open the Run dialog box by searching for it or by clicking Windows Key + Run
  2. Type “Gpedit.msc” and click OK.
  3. Navigate to Computer Configuration >> Windows Settings >> Security Settings >> Account Policy >> Password Policy.
  4. Locate the Maximum Password Age option and set it to 0.
  5. Try logging in with your account.

Solution 6: Updating Windows Group Policy

This particular fix is perhaps the easiest and it solved the problem for several people.

  1. Navigate to Command Prompt by following the Steps 2 and 3 from the Prerequisite section of the article.
  2. Type in the following command in order to force update on group policy.

gpupdate /force

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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Fix: The referenced account is currently locked out

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