6 Best Free Windows Password Recovery Tools

Free Windows password recovery, reset, and unlocker tools

Windows password recovery tools recover or reset lost user and administrator passwords for the Windows operating system.

They're often called "password cracker" tools because they are sometimes used to "crack" passwords by hackers. Legally cracking or unlocking your own Windows password is certainly a legitimate practice!

Below you'll find the best free Windows password recovery programs available, most of which work for Windows 10Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP passwords.

Person using a screwdriver on a laptop that says "Non-boot" on the screen
Theresa Chiechi / Lifewire

Check out our Windows Password Recovery Programs FAQ for additional guidance. We also have an easy-to-read comparison of these programs that should help.

A Windows password recovery program is just one of several ways to find a lost Windows password. Try our guide for resetting your password for Windows 7.

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Ophcrack LiveCD Burned CD
What We Like
  • Easy to use; passwords are recovered automatically

  • Doesn't require installation; it runs from a disc or flash drive

  • You don't have to know anything about the original password

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't crack Windows 10 passwords

  • Can't crack passwords 14+ characters in length

  • You have to boot to the media to run the program

  • The file size is rather large

The Ophcrack Windows password cracker is by far the best freeware Windows password recovery tool available. It's fast and easy enough for a first-time Windows password cracker with a basic knowledge of Windows.

With Ophcrack, you don't need any access to Windows to be able to recover your lost passwords. From another computer, visit the site, download the free ISO image, burn it to a CD or flash drive, and then boot from it.

The Ophcrack program starts, locates the Windows user accounts, and proceeds to recover (crack) the passwords—all automatically.

In a test on a Windows 8 PC, Ophcrack recovered the 8-character password (mixed letters and numbers) to an administrator account in 3 minutes and 29 seconds.

Ophcrack supports Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. Although we tried Ophcrack against three very simple Windows 10 passwords, not one of them were found.

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Lazesoft Recover My Password Home

Lazesoft Recover My Password Home
What We Like
  • Self-explanatory install wizard.

  • Familiar, graphical user interface.

  • Works on CDs and USB devices.

  • Free for home use.

What We Don't Like
  • Must make a separate CD/USB drive for each OS you need to reset the password on.

Another way to reset your Windows password is with Lazesoft Recover My Password Home. Install the program to your computer and it will let you create a bootable USB drive or CD, or you can export the ISO file to your computer and use any bootable-media-maker of your choosing.

The way this program works is a bit different than others because you have to select which operating system you plan to crack the password on. You'll need to know if it's 32-bit or 64-bit and which version of Windows it is.

This program has two primary functions; once you've booted to Lazesoft Recover My Password Home, you have the option to reset the Windows password or find the product key.

Windows 10 down through Windows 2000 are supported. We tested Lazesoft Recover My Password Home in Windows 10 and it reset the 10-character password without any issues.

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Offline NT Password & Registry Editor

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor Password Recovery
What We Like
  • Deletes the password completely

  • You don't have to install anything to the computer

  • Works quickly

  • Works on Windows 10 down through Windows XP

What We Don't Like
  • Must boot to the disc or flash drive to run the program

  • Works from the command line, so everything is text

  • Hasn't been updated since 2014

Offline NT Password & Registry Editor works differently from most password recovery programs in that it erases your Windows password instead of recovering it. You can think of it as more of a Windows password tool.

Like Ophcrack, you boot from a burned disc or flash drive created with the Offline NT Password & Registry Editor ISO file. After running the program, log in to your Windows account without entering a password at all, and then, of course, make a new password if that's what you want.

We've tested Offline NT Password & Registry Editor on 64-bit & 32-bit versions of Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP PCs, and it reset the passwords immediately without a problem. It should work on Windows 2000 and Windows NT operating systems, too.

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Cain & Abel

Cain & Abel Password Cracker
What We Like
  • You can install it in minutes

  • More advanced than similar password recovery tools

  • Includes lots of other useful tools

What We Don't Like
  • Requires access to a Windows account

  • Officially works with Windows XP and older OSs only

  • Hasn't been updated in a very long time

  • You need extra files (not included) in order to recover passwords

Cain & Abel is a free, fast, and effective Windows password recovery tool.

Unlike Ophcrack and other popular Windows password hacking programs, Cain & Abel requires access to Windows under an administrator account. As such, it's a valuable resource to recover passwords to accounts other than the one you're using.

Cain & Abel was able to recover the 10-character password to the Windows XP "Administrator" account in 10 seconds. While it only officially supports Windows XP, 2000, and NT, some people have had luck getting it to work in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

We've tried it with Windows 10, 8, 7, and Vista, and was unsuccessful each time.

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Trinity Rescue Kit

Trinity Rescue Kit
What We Like
  • Can delete Windows passwords

  • Lets you make a new password for a user account

  • You don't need access to a user account to reset passwords

What We Don't Like
  • Needs to be booted from before Windows starts

  • Doesn't have a regular, graphical user interface

Boot Trinity Rescue Kit from a disc or USB stick to work. It includes many different tools, one of which is for password recovery.

Use Trinity Rescue Kit to clear a password entirely, making it blank, or to set a custom one.

The program lacks a graphical interface. However, even if you're not used to a command-line interface, most of the required keystrokes are just numbers for choosing different options for resetting a password.

Trinity Rescue Kit should work with Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

The password resetting tool in Trinity Rescue Kit, called winpass, is actually just an automated script for the chntpw tool, which is what Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, listed above, is based on. If you tried that password tool and it didn't work, Trinity Rescue Kit probably won't either.

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John the Ripper

John the Ripper in Windows 10
What We Like
  • The program is 100 percent free

  • Small download size

  • Runs quickly and from within Windows

What We Don't Like
  • The required wordlists aren't free

  • Works from the command line

  • You need Windows access to use it

While the password recovery application itself is free, the wordlists used by John the Ripper to discover passwords, come with a cost and are required for the software to work.

John the Ripper is operated at the command line, which makes it a password-cracking tool reserved for the advanced user.

John the Ripper supports all popular versions of Windows like Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, and XP.

Windows Password Recovery Tools Aren't Necessary If You're Proactive!

These tools are great if you need them, but there's a much easier way to access your account if you forget your password—a password reset disk!

A password reset disk is a special disk you can insert in your PC during the logon process that will allow you to change your Windows password without knowing your current password. You will need to create this disk before you lose access to your account.