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The Computer Corner


By Charles Miller


Recovering a Lost Password


Last week in this column, I chronicled the story of the client who survived the loss of her computer because she had planned ahead and had done everything right. This week, I continue dealing with the fallout that can result from the loss of a computer by relating the story of a different case and how some other things eventually turned out all right even though this other client had not planned quite so well.

As in the case I related last week, this person had also suffered the misfortune of losing his laptop computer, tablet, and smartphone. The first inkling I had that there might not be completely smooth sailing ahead was when I asked the client for his email password. His answer was to the effect of “there is no password needed. Just click on the icon, and there is the email.” Well, that is entirely correct, so long as he had his computer and an icon on which to click, but perhaps you remember me mentioning earlier that his computer had been stolen. He no longer had that familiar icon on which to click.

The first step on the road to reconstructing this gentleman’s digital life was to recover that password. When we opened up the Gmail web page on another computer there was a helpful link titled “Forgot password?” so I clicked on that. “No problem” says Google, “we’ll send a text to your cell phone.” Obviously the problem then was that since the phone had been stolen too, there was no way to receive any text from Google.

That necessitated a quick trip to the Telcel office, where the helpful personnel there were able to replace the stolen GSM cell phone chip with another having the same phone number as the one that had been stolen. Using a borrowed cell phone and the replacement chip, we were then able to receive the password recovery text from Google.

It was extremely fortunate that Telcel was able to replace the stolen phone chip with the same number. Had it not been possible to do this, my client would have had a huge problem on his hands. Being able to receive a text message sent to that phone number was also the only way to recover the forgotten password for his AppleID. Apple is absolutely and completely inflexible on this. Anyone who loses their phone number and who does not remember the answers to those “secret” questions runs the real risk of being locked out of their Apple iCloud account forever.

This is why it is so critically important to know how to recover a lost or forgotten password for your computer, tablet, or smartphone. The makers of the software for these devices (Apple, Google and Microsoft) all offer a way to recover a lost password by sending it to your phone, but that only works if you still have the phone. This makes it important to also have a recovery email address setup as well as to know your answers to those silly challenge questions. Before you lose one of your devices, please take time to review your own password recovery information.

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981, and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at)


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