password recovery

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Recover your Computer Account’s Password

Posted by on 24 Jun 2010 | Tagged as: ophcrack, password recovery

If you have managed to forget your computer password and you are unable to log into any Windows (or Mac OS X) account then Computer Repair Vancouver has a special tutorial just for you. Today we will look at a relatively easy way you can proactively recover your computer’s password without having to take your PC to the local computer repair technician.

Now, before we begin, we suggest that you take one last look around your house. Make sure that you did not write down your forgotten code on a piece of paper and place it within your computer desk or on your dresser drawer. Although the method we will be describing below is relatively straightforward, rediscovering a physical copy of your password is always the simplest solution to the problem at hand.

Assuming that you had no luck in this last ditch effort and you are still unable to log into your computer then it is time to put away the anxiety medication and head on over to the homepage of Ophcrack. What is Ophcrack, you may be asking? Well, it is a free, open source, program used to crack passwords. Ok, you say; but what does it mean to “crack” a password? Cracking a password, within the computer repair world, is simply the process of discovering a formerly hidden code word typically through the use of a software program. The term cracking tends to have negative connotations since it is most often used when people (frequently described as hackers) attempt to infiltrate the accounts of other individuals without their consent. This is not a problem in our case since we are simply trying to access our own information. However, just as a quick note, we here at Computer Repair Vancouver advise you not to make use of this program on another persons computer (without their explicit knowledge) as this can definitely get you into some hot water.

This particular password recovery tool has several important advantageous features (which is the reason why we here at Computer Repair Vancouver advocate its use). First, and most importantly, it is a software package which allows you to recover passwords even if you are unable to login to any user account. Unlike some applications which run from the desktop, Ophcrack boots up from a CD before the operating system even loads. Subsequently, it needs no formal entrance into the Windows operating system. Another benefit of Ophcrack is that it supports a broad range of operating systems including every recent version of Microsoft Windows (including XP, Vista, and 7), Mac OS X, and Linux. Therefore, no matter what type of computer you are using, you are likely able to make use of it. Finally, it has the ability to recover passwords in a timely manner with only a basic level of computer expertise. The folks who have created it have been nice enough to put it on a Linux LiveCD with all the necessary components so little to no user modification is needed.

Computer Repair Vancouver’s Ophcrack tutorial

This procedure requires:

  • A PC with a CD/DVD drive capable of writing/burning
  • A blank CD or DVD
  • Ophcrack (which you can download free)
  • An ISO writing program (which can be downloaded free)
  1. Begin by heading over to the Ophcrack homepage and click on the “Opcrack LiveCD” icon at the bottom of the screen. If you are attempting to recover a password from Windows 2000 or Windows XP then download the “XP LiveCD”. If you are attempting to recover a password from Windows Vista or Windows 7 then download the “Vista LiveCD”.
  2. Take your blank CD or DVD and put it into your CD/DVD writable drive.
  3. Burn the ISO file which you downloaded (in the first step) to CD or DVD. A popular, free, ISO writing program is ISO Recorder created by Alex Feinman. Computer Repair Vancouver recently created an article outlining the process of burning an ISO; take a look at it if you are unfamiliar with the procedure.
  4. Place the burned CD or DVD into the computer whose password you want to recover.
  5. Boot off the CD/DVD. We will be creating a Computer Repair Vancouver how-to regarding disk booting very soon. The general steps are as follows: restart your machine, upon startup look for the words “boot menu” (or something analogous) and then press the corresponding keyboard key which appears next to that text, select CD/DVD as your boot device.
  6. At the Opcrack prompt you can simply wait a few seconds or hit the enter key.
  7. A desktop should appear with a window at the front of the screen. On the left hand side of the window you will see a “User” column. This is a list of all of the users that the program can see on your PC. On the far right side of the window is an “NT Pwd” column (or something similar); this is the password for the corresponding user. Wait a few minutes as the software application attempts to recover the password for each computer user. Once the password field has been filled in simply write down the corresponding user names and passwords on a piece of paper.
  8. Restart your machine and let it load up normally. Once you get to the user login screen log in to any account using the information obtained in step 7. You should now be able to access Windows and, consequently, you are no longer locked out of your workstation. Congratulations!

*Note: There is a method to place Ophcrack on a USB key instead of a CD/DVD. Although we will not discuss this method today the information can be found at here. If you have any questions about this method feel free to send an email to Computer Repair Vancouver (our email is located on the right side of the blog).