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Is it Possible to Recover Your Password?

Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve forgotten your password? It’s frustrating, but relieving when you finally remember it. The most secure users will use a different password for each account, ensuring that if one is broken into then the others aren’t compromised. But what happens when you can’t remember your password at all? If you’re locked out of your Windows Server account, for example, does that mean the only course of action is a reinstall? Not necessarily.

Bear in mind that if you’re looking to recover your password on an online account then this article isn’t for you. All good websites will have a forgotten password facility, allowing you to go through some recovery steps to get back into your account.

It is also important to preface this article with a warning about the ethics of password recovery. These tools below should only be ever used on your own account in extreme circumstances. To do anything further is not only morally questionable, but also conflicts with law.

Let’s take a look at five popular programs that will help you get your password back for your account.

The first program is Ophcrack. This is a free, open source tool that is available across platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac). The tool has a simple graphical user interface, making it easy to use. There is a brute-force module for simple passwords, along with free tables for Windows XP and Vista/7. There is also a LiveCD mode for easier and efficient recovery. However, this is quite a feature rich program and will probably extend past your needs. Let’s take a look at two more relevant tools.

Windows Password Unlocker is designed specifically to reset forgotten Windows local or domain administrator account passwords. It is compatible on all modern Windows operating systems. The bootable password reset disk can be run with a CD/DVD or a USB drive. There are three editions of this tool: Standard, Professional and Enterprise. However, only the latter two can be used to recover passwords, priced at $29.95 and $49.95 respectively. The Standard version just removes the passwords and has no USB support.

Another Windows friendly program is Windows Key. This also creates a bootable CD or USB that you can use to recover the password. There are also multiple versions, although they are higher priced than Windows Password Unlocker. However, the selling point here is that they promise a 100% recovery rate. The Standard, Professional and Enterprise editions are priced at $39, $95 and $295 respectively. The latter gives you all the features of the former, including the ability to reset domain administrator passwords.

These tools all come with a free trial (excluding Ophcrack, which is just free overall). However, you won’t be able to actually reset any passwords with the trial, but they are good to get a feel for the software.

Although the price of some of these software might put you off, if they work successfully then it’s definitely a cost worth paying over having to reinstall the whole operating system.


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