Enforcing Strong Passwords

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The Local Security Policy Editor appears.

  • Open the Account Policies branch.
  • Click the Password Policy branch.
  • Double-click the Minimum Password Age policy to open its property sheet.
  • Use the Password Must Be at Least spin box to set the minimum number of characters in any password, and then click OK.
  • Double-click the Password Must Meet Complexity Requirements policy.
  • Click Enabled and then click OK.
  • Note that these passwords have no effect on any existing passwords. They only apply when you set a password on a new account, or when you change a password on an existing account.

    You can also set the minimum password length at the command prompt, which is great if you're working on a Vista Home or Vista Home Premium machine. Here's how:

    1. Log on to the Windows Vista computer you want to work with.
    2. Select Start, type cmd.exe, right-click cmd.exe in the results, click Run as Administrator, and then enter your administrator's credentials to continue. The Administrator: Command Prompt window appears.
    3. Enter the following command, changing n to the minimum length you want to use:
    4. net accounts /maxpwlen:n

    With these policies in effect, if someone tries to change their password to something weak, they see a dialog box warning them that the system's policies require a stronger password.

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