Forgetting your password in Windows can be troublesome at the least. Windows Vista and 7 have a place to backup your password and make a recovery disc, but that usually hasn’t been done. Most people don’t think they will forget a password. Of course, there comes a time in your life when your brain doesn’t rememberwhat it used to, as you get older…. Or, you just forget a password after you try to set it to something hard to guess!
Here are a couple programs that can find or reset your password in any Windows NT based operating system (From Windows NT, 2000 – 7). You need to have the computer physically available, meaning you cannot do this over the network to try and “hack” a password.
The first program, and often called “the best”, is a very fast and easy to use password cracker. I’ve used the boot disk often enough with excellent results. There is also another version that can run on the local machine if you happen to lose the password of a different user, but still have access to another local user.
Ophcrack is a free Windows password cracker based on rainbow tables. It is a very efficient implementation of rainbow tables done by the inventors of the method. It comes with a Graphical User Interface and runs on multiple platforms
2. Offline NT Password & Registry Editor
The second program is another boot disk that is quite a bit smaller of a download and can fit on a floppy if needed. It works good, but has a few more caveats and is text based, rather than a GUI, like Ophcrack. This is also available on the UBCD (available: http://www.ultimatebootcd.com), if you want a more feature rich CD for fixing a lot of other PC problems.
I’ve put together a single floppy or CD which contains things needed to edit the passwords on most systems. The CD can also be installed on a USB drive, see readme.txt on the CD.
Either one of these programs will recover or reset your password in Windows. If you have any others you’ve had experience with, or have any suggestions, please feel free to comment!