Windows password recovery tools recover or reset lost user and administrator passwords for the Windows operating system.
Password recovery tools are often called “password cracker” tools because they are sometimes used to “crack” passwords by hackers. Legally cracking or unlocking your own Windows password is certainly a legitimate practice!
6 Best Free Windows Password Recovery Tools 2021
Cracking Other Passwords
See this list of free password crackers for free programs that crack PDF files, Word & Excel documents, RAR & ZIP archives, and more.
- Easy to use; passwords are recovered automatically
- Doesn’t require installation; it runs from a disc or flash drive
- You don’t have to know anything about the original password
- Doesn’t crack Windows 10 passwords
- Can’t crack passwords 14+ characters in length
- You have to boot to the media to run the program
- The file size is rather large
The Ophcrack Windows password cracker is by far the best freeware Windows password recovery tool available. It’s fast and easy enough for a first-time Windows password cracker with a basic knowledge of Windows.
With Ophcrack, you don’t need any access to Windows to be able to recover your lost passwords. From another computer, visit the site, download the free ISO image, burn it to a CD or flash drive, and then boot from it.
The Ophcrack program starts, locates the Windows user accounts, and proceeds to recover (crack) the passwords—all automatically.
In a test on a Windows 8 PC, Ophcrack recovered the 8-character password (mixed letters and numbers) to an administrator account in 3 minutes and 29 seconds.
Ophcrack supports Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. Though weI tried Ophcrack against three very simple Windows 10 passwords, not one of them were found.
- Deletes the password completely
- You don’t have to install anything to the computer
- Works quickly
- Works on Windows 10 down through Windows XP
- Must boot to the disc or flash drive to run the program
- Works from the command line, so everything is text
Offline NT Password & Registry Editor works differently from most password recovery programs in that it erases your Windows password instead of recovering it. You can think of it as more of a Windows password tool.
Like Ophcrack, you boot from a burned disc or flash drive created with the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor ISO file. After running the program, log in to your Windows account without entering a password at all, and then, of course, make a new password if that’s what you want.
We’ve tested Offline NT Password & Registry Editor on 64-bit & 32-bit versions of Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP PCs, and it reset the passwords immediately without a problem. It should work on Windows 2000 and Windows NT operating systems too.
- One of the easiest ways to reset a password
- No need to install the software to the computer’s hard drive
- Smaller download than most bootable password reset tools
- Doesn’t work on Windows 10 or Windows 8
- Doesn’t work on 64-bit operating systems
- You have to put the software on a disc to use it
Kon-Boot is yet another free password reset program, much like ONTP&RE. Just burn the program to a disc or USB drive, boot from it, and you’re off.
Kon-Boot works differently from the two password reset tools above, so if you have problems using them, give Kon-Boot a try. It’s easy to use and probably the fastest password reset-and-recovery tool available.
Kon-Boot 1.0 does not work with 64-bit versions of Windows, nor any version of Windows 8 or Windows 10. We used Kon-Boot v1.0 to successfully delete the password on a Windows Vista PC and then also on a Windows XP PC.
- You can install it in minutes
- More advanced than similar password recovery tools
- Includes lots of other useful tools
- Requires access to a Windows account
- Officially works with Windows XP and older OSs only
- Hasn’t been updated in a very long time
- You need extra files (not included) in order to recover passwords
Cain & Abel is a free, fast and effective Windows password recovery tool.
Unlike Ophcrack and other popular Windows password-hacking programs, Cain & Abel requires access to Windows under an administrator account. As such, it’s a valuable resource to recover passwords to accounts other than the one you’re using.
Cain & Abel was able to recover the 10-character password to the Windows XP “Administrator” account in 10 seconds. While it only officially supports Windows XP, 2000, and NT, some people have had luck getting it to work in Windows Vista and Windows 7.
We’ve tried it with Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista, and was unsuccessful each time.
- Can delete Windows passwords
- Lets you make a new password for a user account
- You don’t need access to a user account to reset passwords
- Needs to be booted from before Windows starts
- Doesn’t have a regular, graphical user interface
Boot Trinity Rescue Kit from a disc or USB stick to work. It includes many different tools, one of which is for password recovery.
Use Trinity Rescue Kit to clear a password entirely, making it blank, or to set a custom one.
The program lacks a graphical interface. However, even if you’re not used to a command-line interface, most of the required keystrokes are just numbers for choosing different options for resetting a password.
Trinity Rescue Kit should work with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.
The password resetting tool in Trinity Rescue Kit, called winpass, is actually just an automated script for the chntpw tool, which is what Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, listed above, is based on. If you tried that password tool and it didn’t work, Trinity Rescue Kit probably won’t either.
- The program is 100 percent free
- Small download size
- Runs quickly and from within Windows
- The required wordlists aren’t free
- Works from the command line
- You need Windows access to use it
While the password recovery application itself is free, the wordlists used by John the Ripper to discover passwords, come with a cost and are required for the software to work.
John the Ripper is operated at the command line, which makes it a password-cracking tool reserved for the advanced user.
John the Ripper supports all popular versions of Windows like Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.
Windows Password Recovery Tools Aren’t Necessary If You’re Proactive!
These Windows password recovery tools are great if you need them, but there’s a much easier way to access your account if you forget your password—a password reset disk!
A password reset disk is a special disk you can insert in your PC during the logon process that will allow you to change your Windows password without knowing your current password. You will need to create this disk before you lose access to your account.