How to Recover, Bypass, or Delete Your Windows Password for Free
Did You Forget Your Windows Password?
If you've lost or forgotten your Windows administrator password, don't despair - it happens more often than you think. In this article, I'll be providing a list of options that you can try in order to recover, bypass, or delete your Windows password for free. Because there are multiple Windows operating systems in use today, particularly XP, Vista, and Windows 7, I've included several different software, since success rates vary from one OS to another. Windows 7 is particularly tricky to hack, but my PC runs on 7 and I was able to manage, so hopefully you'll have good results as well.
*Warning: be careful when downloading free software that claims to help you recover your password. A lot of them are viruses/spyware in disguise. The software listed here, however, is safe to use.
**Disclaimer: you're reading this article because you can't remember your own password, right?
Supplies You'll Need
1. A separate computer with Internet and a CD burner (preferably running on Windows because you'll need to be able to run .exe files for a couple of these)
2. Several blank CDs
3. *Possibly* an external hard drive (to back up important files)
4. Time & Patience! You can do it!
External Hard Drives
A Note Before We Get Started:
Not to rub it in, but the best way to avoid this problem is to make a password backup disc ahead of time so that if you forget your password in the future, you won't have to go through all this mess again. I learned the hard way too.
It's also a good idea to always back up any important files you have on your computer, just in case. Copy them to CDs, an external hard drive, or a cloud for safekeeping.
Ok, now on with the tutorial...
Trinity Rescue Kit (TRK)
Works for Windows 7, Vista, XP
This is the software that worked for me. While it won't retrieve your Windows password for you, it will delete it, and you'll be able to log into your account without a password. You can download TRK here. While many of the other articles I've read on password recovery don't mention TRK, I think it's the best choice out there. So I have to thank Youtube's Britec09 for mentioning it and providing an awesome TRK tutorial video.
Once you download TRK, you'll want to burn the .iso to a disc, then boot your computer from that disc. Both the TRK website and the Britec09 video I linked to above have really good step-by-step instructions for what to do from there. One important note: the TRK software gives you two options for deleting your password. I recommend doing both, just to be sure.
PC Login Now
Works for Windows Vista, XP, and allegedly Windows 7
This used to be a paid software, but now all versions are available for free. On their website, they claim that all Windows operating systems are now supported. This might be true; it's been a while since I used their software. Therefore, it's worth a shot even if you're running Windows 7. Like all the other options listed, you'll need to download it as an .iso and burn it to a CD, then boot it from your locked computer. Get it here.
Once you boot it up, the process is pretty self-explanatory, but here's a YouTube video that shows the steps.
Offline NT Password & Registry Editor
Works for Windows Vista, XP, and allegedly for Windows 7
This is another software that claims to work on Windows 7, and perhaps by now it does. It will probably be effective on XP and Vista at least. Get it here, and like the others, you'll need to download an .iso and burn to a disc.
Here's a helpful video showing you how to use it.
Kon-Boot and Ophcrack
Works for Windows Vista, XP, iffy for Windows 7
While the official Kon-Boot site now requires a fee for its most recent software, you can download a free copy of an older version here. The only catch is that the free version doesn't tend to work on Windows 7. You'll need to download the .iso and burn to a disc, then boot from that disc on your locked computer.
Here are a couple of good Youtube videos explaining how to use Kon-Boot:
And here's another!
Ophcrack (get it here) is another option you can try if you have Windows XP or Vista, but it may not work on Windows 7. You have the option of downloading and installing it, or downloading a LiveCD. It's worth a shot. Some folks have had success.
Here's a video that shows you how to use it.
Alternatives & Last Resorts: When Nothing Else Works
If none of the above work, it's not the end of the world. There are other things you can do, including trying a paid software, booting in a Linux OS and moving the contents of your hard-drive to a new computer, and/or performing a clean installation of your operating system.
Hack into System 32
I found this really neat video of someone who booted up from a disc with a GUI (Ophcrack comes with one, but you can also use Linux), then went into System 32, worked some cut 'n' paste magic, and was able to restart and change the password from the command line on the log-in screen. I haven't tried it, but it got a lot of likes on YouTube, so it's worth a try.
There are some paid services out there that claim to work. I've never tried any, so I can't recommend any of them based on personal experience. The paid version of Kon-Boot is reputable, and claims to work on Windows 7 where the free version may not. You can check this out for yourself on their website.
There are several other paid software available, however, I'd try the suggestion below before going with any of them.
Use Linux to View/Back-Up Files & Perform a Clean Installation:
The next two options work best when used together. If none of the free software works, but you don't want to use a paid software, you can transfer all your files to CDs or a separate hard drive, then perform a clean installation of your operating system. Here's what I recommend:
- Step 1: Start by burning a Linux operating system onto a CD. There are a lot of Linux OSes out there. I'd go with Ubuntu or Mandriva, but it's up to you. Here's a link to the Linux website, and here's a link to download Ubuntu and Mandriva.
- Step 2: Once you've burned the Linux iso file to a disc, boot your locked computer from the disc.
- Step 3: Your computer should boot in Linux, and you should be able to access the contents of your hard drive this way. Transfer all of the files in the hard drive that you want to save either onto CDs, an external hard drive, or a cloud. As you're saving files, also make a note of any software on your computer that you'd like to reinstall after you reinstall the operating system. And if you have any important bookmarks saved to your web browser, save those too.
- Step 4: Once you've backed up your files, get the installation disc(s) for your operating system in order to do a clean installation.
- Step 5: Perform a clean installation, then connect your external hard drive to your PC, or load your files from backup discs, or access your cloud to replace your saved files. Go through the list of software and bookmarks you wanted to restore, and re-install/re-bookmark them.
And Finally, The Office Space Method
When you're really at your wit's end, the Office Space Method never fails.
Caution! NSFW, contains strong language =)