Security

Five password recovery tools to use in a pinch

Introduction

Many people take a dim view of password recovery tools for ethical reasons -- understandably so. You have a tool that can, in some cases, crack passwords on machines. But in certain situations, these tools may be the only thing that can save you from having to go as far as reinstalling the operating system.

Let's take a look at five "free" password recovery tools. I say "free" because in some cases there are tables that must be purchased (such as rainbow tables) to break some types of passwords.

Note: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.

Photo: iStockphoto.com/proxyminder

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

19 comments
louella1005
louella1005

by the way it's Vista and a Sony Vaio. If you know how email me I forgot to check it!

louella1005
louella1005

I've not been able to get into my laptop for 6 months now. I know my password but the login name got messed up. So any suggestions without reinstalling? I have pictures and short stories I've written on this hard drive.

terry.marston
terry.marston

fully understand feelings against this software, but will opposers change their minds when they need to use it?

finny
finny

How can I load a recovery program if I don't have the password to open the computer in the first place? I got a Dell Lap at a yard sale, seems to work, but I have to hit Ctrl-Alt-Del then a pass ot get into it,. Help! Tom K8ERV

timmo
timmo

konboot or Hirens, nuff said

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

TR members do not assist in password recovery or removal. Do not respond to this thread. We, the members of TechRepublic - A Resource for IT Professionals, will not assist anyone in the recovery/removal of lost passwords. You may have a legitimate reason to recover/remove a password. However, we cannot verify your motives and will therefore not assist anyone in what may be an attempt at gaining unauthorized access to a computer system. Due to the open nature of this forum, any assistance given to help circumvent security measures, even for legitimate purposes, would be available for unscrupulous individuals to use for illegitimate purposes. This is a risk that we, the members of TechRepublic, will not take. Please do not ask questions of this nature on TechRepublic. If you have a legitimate need to circumvent a password scheme, please contact your local computer repair store or the vendor for the software/hardware and request their assistance. E.g. Windows XP password recovery/removal issues should be taken up with Microsoft's technical support, Phoenix BIOS password recovery/removal issues should be taken up with Phoenix Technologies, hard drive password recovery/removal should be taken up with the manufacturer of the hard drive, etc... To those viewing this post: Please DO NOT respond any further to this thread. This will cause TechRepublic's forums to show up in a search engine's results for key words that relate to password cracking which, in turn, could lead to more password cracking questions. This template has been released under the GNU public license and you are encouraged to use it as a standard reply for questions of similar nature, provided that you make any modifications available to other users.

JRez
JRez

I started working for a manufacturing company about a year ago and here they use routers (not to be confused with networking routers) to cut kitchens out. One of the machines they brought in second hand (the size of a small truck) computer didnt come in with the admin password and it was brought from over seas through a third party. I had to use elmcroft password reset a bootable cd and it works a charm. You can reset any password on it and it has a cool splash graphic at the start of a password cemetery. I would recommend this software for those caught in a pinch.

Red_One
Red_One

TRK does the password reset. It also unlocks the admin account on Vista/7 No it won't tell you the password, but you can reset and get back in to your system in a hurry. I consider it one of my most valuable tools. You may never need it, but you don't have K-12 students :-)

pgit
pgit

I have a bootable CD that has a tool for wiping passwords. It can't recover, but who cares? It's totally non-graphic, all terminal. (Linux) It's free, though I can't find it on the net anymore. I got my copy years ago, but it has worked with vista and server 2003. I haven't had cause to try it on win7 yet. If I recall correctly the name of the tool, if not the system disk itself, is passwd. Takes me a total of 5 minutes to be back into a windows system, setting a new password the 'normal' way. I've used Hiren's, but not for passwords. I've recovered files and partitions with Hiren's. There's something about Hiren's I can't put my finger on, it seems it's not really FOSS, there's a faux XP interface, if it "borrowed" any code from Microsoft I imagine it'd violate copyright and/or terms of use. Hiren's has a Linux environment to boot into, but a lot of the win tools don't run in there. I try to avoid Hiren's. I rarely have to go to it, in the event none of the other live systems can handle whatever the problem.

kevin
kevin

Why do you not use Hiren CD? It's free. It's simple to use.

pgit
pgit

I use Slax 5.1.8.1 for this type of work. There's a lot of live systems, but if Slax will run on your hardware it's the best choice IMHO. It gives you root access across the board. You can mount the drive and poke around to your heart's content. If Slax won't boot for some reason, I go to Knoppix next, though mounting a drive isn't as obvious and simple as it is with Slax. In any case, just back your stuff onto a USB drive, then in windows I'd make a new user, log into that and move your data into that account. You could also delete the old account but save the data, then make that user again. Just make sure you've backed up everything with a live CD first.

kevin.spencer
kevin.spencer

hi, i understand your problem! quite funny in it! password recovery software often incorporates..what i can only describe as a mini operating system... the idea is that you put disk that has perhaps been loaded with the system on another pc into the dvd/cds drive....you then turn it off ! now reboot yes with the disk in! your pc for which you dont have a password,and can't get in will now boot from the disk youve put in ...this works as it boots before windows!, generaly a little browser of sorts appears after a few moments...asking you if you want to reveal the password or reset it ...and if so which one you want to reset!.. couple of clicks later...and password reset!...remove disc restart pc, then if need be dream up a new password! the above being very typical procedure! for a number password recovery softwares... if you still can't get in give me your email address! and for a consideration...and return post paid! i may help you further!

Mr. Fix
Mr. Fix

Having said that, many password protection schemes are incredibly dumb, like having a locked gate with neither wall nor fence, while others actually incorporate techniques to bypass them.

desforde
desforde

I understand the Hirens CD ( Petter Nordahl-Hagan's -Windows NT Password Changer) allows you to 'reset' but not 'recover' a password. Its a supper tool, I have used it on a number of OS.

n.gurr
n.gurr

Even if you hold licenses for all the software it is illegal as it has a customised version of XP. Ultimate boot cd or MsDart are both good tools to consider in similar situations tho and generally available free or through Technet.

pgit
pgit

All I know is it's not an official Microsoft app. I also don't know what the actual executable is called, because everything is run off option, press 1 for A, press 2 to run B, etc etc. There's a lot on this disk, it took me some trial and error before I could get through the menus to the actual password reset. Things like selecting the partition where the password is are less than intuitive.

JCitizen
JCitizen

but that was in NT4 enviroments.