There are already so many articles written on how to recover or reset a password that I’m not going to reinvent the wheel, but instead will guide you to the best online resources that I used to crack my Windows XP password.
1. Ophcrack Live CD – My favorite ways to blank out or crack a Windows password is to use a Linux Live CD. These are special distributions of Linux that run directly from the CD (no installation required) and are specially designed for cracking Windows passwords. You can read the documentation to learn how to use it. Simply burn the ISO and boot using the CD and the program will get right to work. It won’t work, however, on very complicated password because it actually tries to determine the password rather than reset it.
2. Offline NT Password and Registry Editor – This is a very small program, only 3MB in size, that you can burn to a CD and boot to. It’ll auto-detect the Windows installation and the account names (that is if everything was installed in the default Windows directories). Using this program you can reset or blank out a Windows password, which means it doesn’t matter how long or complicated it is. I tried this program on Vista and it would not load afterwards, so definitely only use for Windows XP or earlier!
3. Login Recovery – Login Recovery is a web site that has a program that you can either download onto a floppy disk or a cd and that you use to boot up with. You’ll get a list of account and some numbers when the program runs. Take those numbers and enter them onto the web site and Login Recovery will crunch it through it’s system to find out password for Windows NT, 2000, XP and Vista. I have tried this site and it did not work for my password, which was 11 characters and mostly symbols, numbers, and letters. However, if the password was something simple, they will probably be able to crack it.
4. John The Ripper – Another free password cracker that works on Windows, Linux and Macs, so it’s useful for any Mac or Linux user who wants to recovery a password. Pretty easy to use and comes with good instructions, so most people can follow along.
5. Knoppix STD – G4TV has a good article on another Linux distro you can download and use to crack your Windows password. Follow the detailed instructions he gives and if the password is not too long or difficult, it should be able to crack it!
As you can tell, the best ways to crack a Windows password is using Linux! It might be a little too techie for some people, but it’s definitely worth it if you want to avoid having to re-install Windows and lose all of your data! Any questions, post a comment!