windows 10 account locked out

Are you having problems while trying to log in to your Microsoft account? In that case, you will most likely receive the following alert: ‘The referenced account is currently locked out and may not be logged on to’.

Even if it might seem that you are dealing with an important issue, you shouldn’t panic as you can fix everything quickly.

Understanding why this problem occurs

When you power on your Windows computer (your personal device or your work machine) you are asked to enter your own password for completing the sign in process. If you somehow forget your credentials then you will first receive the following message: ‘The password is incorrect. Try again.’.

Usually, you should be able to try and retry the log in process for endless times. But if an Account Lockout Policy is set up, after entering the wrong password for several times (depending on each threshold that was initially set), you will no longer have the option to retype your credentials.

Instead, you will notice ‘the referenced account is currently locked out and may not be logged on to’ prompt.

As already mentioned, you shouldn’t despair. This unpleasant situation can be solved easily, but only if you remember your password in the meanwhile.

Otherwise, I’m afraid you will have to reset your account. Anyway, here is how you can still log in to your Windows 10 computer:

How to fix account locked out issues

Wait 30 minutes

The first thing to do is to have patience. If an Account lockout threshold policy was configured then you will have to wait for 30 minutes (that’s the default time set by the Windows system) before you will be able to repeat the sign in process.

Hint: this 30 minute time might be different from one device to another depending on how the Account lockout threshold policy was configured in the first place.

After waiting 30 minutes and if you remembered your password, you can resume the log in process. Hopefully, you can now access the Windows 10 system. As from there, you can make sure that future similar situations won’t happen anymore.

Remove Account lockout threshold

  1. On your computer you need to access the Local Security Policy window.
  2. For doing so, first open the Run box – press the Win+R keyboard keys.
  3. In the Run box enter secpol.msc and press Enter.The referenced account is currently locked out
  4. From Local Security Policy window click on Security Settings – located in the left panel.
  5. Then, from the submenu that will be displayed navigate towards Account Policy – > Account Lockout Policy.
  6. From the main panel of this window double click on Account lockout threshold policy.The referenced account is currently locked out
  7. The Account lockout threshold Properties window will be displayed.
  8. Select the Local Security Setting tab and under Account will not lock out enter ‘0’.The referenced account is currently locked out
  9. Click OK and then Apply.
  10. You can reboot your Windows 10 system in the end.

Now you can verify if everything was fixed by entering the wrong password for several times. If you’re not getting ‘The referenced account is currently locked out and may not be logged on to’ message, this means that you successfully fixed this security issue.

Remember that if you just can’t remember your password you have to reset it manually. For doing so, you need to select ‘Forget password’ from the sign in window and follow further on-screen prompts – do note that an USB stick will be required on the process.

Speaking of passwords, you want to better manage the passwords you use on your computer, check out this guide on the best password manager for Windows 10.


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in September 2017 and has been since updated for freshness, and accuracy.

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