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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Step by Step: Changing the SharePoint 2013 Farm Account Password

When setting up a new SharePoint 2013 farm, as a best practice we typically create service accounts for very specific purposes. The idea here is that we deploy SharePoint 2013 using a least privileged model, where very specific service accounts are created for very specific purposes and those accounts are only granted the permissions required to fulfill that purpose. That way, if such a service account is compromised by a malicious user, that user does not gain access to the entire farm. One such account is the SharePoint 2013 farm account.

When creating these service accounts, for various reasons, we typically create a domain account in Active Directory and configure it such that the passwords do not expire. As well, we find that the passwords for these service accounts typically are not changed often. However, there are circumstances in which the password for the SharePoint 2013 farm account must be changed.
  • One example of such a circumstance is if we suspect that the farm account has been compromised by a malicious user.
  • Another example is when consultants, such as myself, are brought in to deploy new SharePoint 2013 environments. Once that deployment process is complete and the client is happy with the environment, rightfully so, the client typically wants to take complete control of the environment and restrict farm admin level access to only a small set of internal employees - essentially they want to prevent the consultants that deployed the environment from continuing to have farm administrative level access.

Changing the SharePoint 2013 farm account is a manual process.  Its not something that is done often, so people often aren't sure which steps are required to ensure that it has been changed in all required locations.  Always be sure to test this process in a TEST SharePoint 2013 environment and monitor that environment for a period of time before performing this process in a PRODUCTION environment.  Your SharePoint 2013 farm may be configured differently that other standard configurations and your process may require extra steps.

For a standard SharePoint 2013 farm, the following are the steps required for modifying the SharePoint 2013 farm account:
1. Navigate to SharePoint 2013 Central Administration interface, click Security in the left hand menu, and click ‘Configure Managed Accounts’.  Select the farm administrators account in the account list shown, click the Edit icon and change the password.
2. Manually change the User Profile Service password.  As required by SharePoint, this service uses the farm administrator account, however SharePoint 2013 does not treat this account as a managed account so it must be changed manually. 
  • The farm administrator account must be made a local administrator on the server hosting the user profile service during the password change. 
  • Once that step is complete, launch SharePoint Central Admin, navigate to System Settings and click ‘Manage Services on Server’.  This page is used to start and stop services on each machine in the farm.  Select the machine hosting the user profile service and find that service.  It should say started. 
  • Stop the service.
  • Start the service again – when starting the script you’ll be asked for the new password
  • Ensure that you monitor the user profile service and ensure that the service starts correctly.
  • Once started, you may remove the farm administrator account as a local administrator.  However, we often recommend leaving it as a local admin on the server for simplicity of making such changes in the future.
3. Check if any applications in the Secure Store service use the farm administrator account, and if they do change the password there.
  • Launch SharePoint Central Admin, click Application Management in the left hand menu, click Manage Service Applications, click the Secure Store Application and click Manage Target Applications.
  • Select a single Target Application from the list.
  • In the Credentials group on the ribbon, click Set. This opens the Set Credentials for Secure Store Target Application dialog box.  If any target application uses the farm administrators account, change the password here. 
  • Repeat this process for all secure store applications.
  • Note: Be cautious when entering the password. If a password is entered incorrectly, no message will be displayed about the error. Instead, you'll be able to continue with configuration. However, errors can occur later, when you attempt to access data through the BCS.  If the password for the external data source is updated, you have to return to this page to manually update the password credentials.
4. Reboot all the servers in the SharePoint farm, except for SQL server.  SQL Server does not need to be restarted.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this process.  There may be other services that have been configured with the farm administration account, so your process may vary somewhat, but typically the farm administrator account is reserved for specific purposes.  As a best practice, due to its high level of access, the farm administrator account should not be used widely other than for the purposes in which it was designed.



  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I've been reading up on different sites about this process and some places metion running the stsadm updatefarmcredentials and then an iisreset after going through these steps. Thoughts?

  3. Well, stsadmn may work but it was deprecated in SharePoint 2016 and we have been recommended to move off of it since SharePoint 2013 was released. So I would not recommend using it. Its still there and may very well work, but we should really stop using stsadm (and start moving to PowerShell, and unfortunately PowerShell does not have an equivalent command). As well, an IIS Reset may work, but I have always rebooted each server in the farm when making such a change. This is a fundamental change and I would be concerned about all services (windows services and SharePoint services) that rely on the farm service account credentials all getting appropriately updated at the same time. HTH

    1. Hi Antonio.

      I am new to Sharepoint, i got one project of sharepoint, where i need to install SharePoint & configure DMS (Document Management System).

      i dont have any idea about SharePoint.

      Project Details:-

      1.Installing SP
      2. Confiogure DMS
      3. Intergrate existing EMS file share storage to SP & migrate all the Data to SP.
      4. File share carrying NTFS permission should also move to SP (Is that Possible)
      please mail me the step by step for successfully completing this above project.
      my email id :-

  4. Hi Antonio,

    Great post... In our case we are using same service accounts in our content farm and shared services farm( search, UPA etc..). Can you suggest best way of changing password in these situations please..

    Many thanks in advance.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Have tried to reply to this a couple of times, but blogger keeps giving me issues. I would first ask where did you see this error? Is it on the Configure Managed Accounts page? I would suggest you check the farm service account in AD to see if its configured so that the password cannot be changed. You may have to perform the initial password change there. Also, I wrote an update to this post a few months later, which you can find here: Hope that helps.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. HI,

    I need to know before changing the password at farm level, do we need to change the same at Ad and SQL level also?

  8. Will someone please tell me why Microsoft design their servers and services so that every change requires a reboot.

  9. This will allow to enter the password for the managed account. This command is the same used to set the password. You will see a screen similar to the below where you will manually enter the gmail recovery

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  18. For SP2016 environment, could we simply skip the part about User Profile service? Since there is no user profile sync service in sp2016.

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