Windows password recovery tools can be very useful in situations when we forget the administrator password of Windows. Since there is no email address attached to our Windows accounts, there is no other way to recover a password if we forget one. The situation becomes worse if we forget the administrator password as no one will be able to change the administrator password except the administrator. Windows gives us an option to create a bootable floppy disc for password recovery purposes but as we all know that floppy drives are now obsolete and can’t be relied on for sensitive data. The only other method that Windows gives is reinstallation of Windows which will mean loss of important data and settings.
Fortunately, now there are programs which make it easy for use to reset or recover Windows administrator password easily. Let’s talk about some of the free tools available for Windows password recovery.
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OPHCRACK Windows Password Recovery Tool
OPHCRACK is the most popular Windows password recovery tool as it is free and open source and very easy to use even for the beginners with basic computer skills. Passwords can be recovered automatically without installing anything on the computer. You only need to download and burn the OPHCRACK Live CD and boot the PC using the Live CD. OPHCRACK will be able to recover the password almost 100% of the times. It can be used in Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.
The second best utility for Windows password recovery is Offline NT Password & Registry Editor. This utility can work on any version of Windows including Windows 3.1, Windows 98, NT, 2000, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and server Operating Systems like Windows 2003 Server and Windows 2008 Server. It can work from a floppy drive, USB drive and the CD-ROM drive.
Appropriate Offline NT Password & Registry Editor can be downloaded from the below locations:
John The Ripper is another free and open source password recovery utility which can crack password of many Operating System flavors including UNIX, Linux, Windows, DOS and OpenVMS. It can crack the Windows LM Hashes which store the passwords for Windows. John The Ripper is not very easy to use and is intended for professionals only.
LCP is a utility that needs to be installed in Windows in order to attempt password. You need to have access to a user account in order to recover the administrator password. It applies many methods of password recovery including dictionary attack, brute force attack and hybrid of dictionary and brute force attacks.
Download English version (with installer) [2.29 Mb]
Download English version (without installer, ZIP) [1.86 Mb]
Download English version (without installer, RAR) [1.66 Mb]
Cain & Abel Windows Password Recovery Tool
Cain & Abel is another utility very similar to LCP as it needs to be installed on the PC on which the administrator password has to be recovered. Another down side of Cain & Abel is that it has not been tested on Windows Visa and Windows 7 based systems. The benefit of Cain & Abel is that it can employ many password cracking methods in order to recover the password and is successful 99% of the times. There are different versions for Windows 9x and Windows 2000 and later.
My list of top 5 best Windows password recovery tools especially for Windows network administrators is complete. If you know of any other password recovery tool, kindly share with use through comments below.