Best password recovery software of 2024

The best password recovery software makes it simple and easy to recover passwords for any software or hardware that you are using.

Best password recovery software: quick menu

The ability to recover passwords is becoming an increasingly important issue now that most online services have upped their security. Added protection is great when it works, but if you forget any passwords you can get caught up in an authentication nightmare. This can cause real problems getting into everything from everyday apps on your computer, to connecting to your Wi-Fi network.

Luckily there are password recovery solutions available, if you do find yourself in that situation. There are a number of software platforms that will aim to help you, and we'll list the best of them below. Work your way through the list, and with patience and some luck, you should be able to regain access.

However, once you do recover your missing password(s) it's probably a good idea to invest in one of the best password managers, so that it doesn't happen again!

In the meantime, below we list the best password recovery solutions currently available.

We've also highlighted the best free password manager.

The best password recovery software of 2024 in full:

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

Best password recovery software overall

(Image credit: Passware)

1. Passware Kit

Quick and easy password recovery

Reasons to buy

Instant results on many password types
Leverage NVIDIA and AMD GPU acceleration
Easy to use
History of recovered passwords

Reasons to avoid

Expensive beyond basic functions

Passware is a leading password recovery software developer that has a success rate of about 70%, which is quite good, considering the task at hand. The Basic, Standard, and Standard Plus kits are all intended for home use, although there are Business and even Forensics solutions available, depending on how difficult the job is.

The Basic kit works on Microsoft Windows Vista, and Windows 7/8.x/10/11, as well as on Mac. The software can grant you quick access to a wide variety of file types, either through brute force attacks or Passware’s “Instant Recovery” method, as well as general Windows passwords.

The Kit Standard Plus version can also unlock password managers like LastPass, 1Password, Dashlane, and Keepass, as well as recent Windows local accounts, server accounts, and Microsoft Live ID accounts. 

While somewhat costly and like all solutions, not guaranteed to work in every case, this is a good place to start for a robust password recovery application with a good track record. The latest update also brought the password recovery for bcrypt hash.

Best free password recovery software

(Image credit: Lazesoft)

2. Recover My Password

Best freeware password recovery

Reasons to buy

Easy install and setup wizard
Works on CDs and USBs
Free for personal (not business) users
Extensive knowledge base and tutorials

Reasons to avoid

Separate boot media for each OS

Recover My Password by Lazesoft is another freeware option for recovering a Windows admin password. You can remove the Windows password entirely, reset it to blank, and unlock, enable, or disable user accounts.

The Home edition has a graphical user interface, making it simple to use. Just follow the step-by-step instructions to create a bootable CD that you’ll use to recover your passwords. The business version builds on the free home edition and is priced from $39.99.

Lazesoft claims a 100% recovery rate when used on Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and even 10. It can also be used to retrieve lost product keys from Windows installations. 

Finally, Lazesoft has free technical support available, so if you get stuck, you can check out its comprehensive FAQ and knowledge base, and then if necessary, contact by email. 

Best multi-platform password recovery software

(Image credit: Openwall)

3. John the Ripper

Password recovery for Linux, Unix, Windows, and macOS

Reasons to buy

Software is free and open-source
Works on Windows, macOS, Unix, Linux, and more
Small download size

Reasons to avoid

Native applications are paid
Wordlists are paid
Command-line only

Don’t let the name scare you: John the Ripper is a reputable password recovery tool available for Unix, macOS, Windows, and others. The free version is only available in source code, which isn’t well suited to novice users. However, a Pro version is available for Linux and macOS, with a seven-day money-back guarantee.

In both cases, there’s no graphical user interface, so if you’re not familiar with command-line, this tool is probably not for you. 

Even if you take the free version, however, the wordlists required to use the program are paid. There’s also a mailing list where you can ask questions if you run into any trouble, although responses may vary in promptness and usefulness.

Best password recovery software for new users

(Image credit: OS)

4. Ophcrack

Another free password recovery option

Reasons to buy

Easy to use
Essentially automatic password recovery
No installation
No prior knowledge of password required

Reasons to avoid

Can’t recover passwords longer than 14 characters

A well-known name in the password recovery business, Ophcrack is one of the best freeware solutions available. It’s designed for average users with little knowledge of cracking passwords, so even novices can follow the simple step-by-step instructions.

There’s no need to install Ophcrack on a separate device. Instead, you can download an ISO image directly from the website to be burned onto a CD or flash drive, and boot from either of these to access powerful password recovery options. Ophcrack will locate Windows user accounts and automatically recover the passwords. 

Ophcrack currently supports Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7/8/10. It cracks passwords based on “rainbow tables”, which uses less processing time than a brute-force attack. These tables can be downloaded for free from the Ophcrack website. There’s also a brute-force mode for simple passwords. 

The software is free and open-source, which is a big advantage both in terms of cost and transparency. While you may not have the user support of a paid solution, Ophcrack has a good track record and can be used to reliably recover many Windows accounts.

Best password recovery software for power users

(Image credit: Trinity)

5. Trinity Rescue Kit

Command-line Windows password recovery

Reasons to buy

Create new passwords for user accounts
Delete Windows passwords easily
Many extra features

Reasons to avoid

No graphical user interface
Dense documentation, not suitable for novices

Trininity Rescue Kit (TRK) is a live Linux distribution that can be used to recover Windows passwords, which can then easily be reset using a simple (text) menu interface. The software also includes five different virus scans and a tool for disk cleanup, with recovery and undeletion of certain files and lost partitions. 

The documentation is also extensive—very extensive. Given this and the fact that it runs only on Linux, it may not be a suitable solution for many users. That said, it’s entirely free, has a small download size, and has a five-star rating from its users. 

TRK works for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10. 

We've listed the best password generators.

Password recovery FAQs

How to choose the best password recovery software

When deciding which password recovery software to use, first consider what your actual needs are, as budget software may only provide basic options, so if you need to use advanced tools you may find a more expensive platform is much more worthwhile. Additionally, higher-end software can usually cater for every need, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require from your password recovery software.

What are the most common and effective ways to recover a password

We probed Denis Gladysh, co-owner and head of Passcovery, a supplier of high-speed GPU-accelerated software solutions for recovering passwords of popular file format, to find out what the most popular ways to recover lost passwords are.

By skillfully customizing the range you may staggeringly reduce the number of trial passwords. This will still be a brute force attack, only with a limited range of combinations:

Mask is a part of the password that you know some specific details about. It remains unchanged throughout the entire attack, while only the unknown part is being changed. Not the most common case, of course. For example, if you know that the password begins with the name Jack, ends with the year of his birth - 56, and there are some characters in the middle, then by using the mask - Jack?????56 - you could check all 11-character passwords beginning with Jack and ending with 56.

When you do not know the exact characters of the password, but you do know its structure, then using the extended mask attack you can define an individual charset for each position in the password. Trial passwords will only consist of the characters from the defined charsets. Only a few password crackers offer this feature. Passcovery (review/website) is one of them. For example, you know that the password begins with a capital letter, ends with numbers, and there are only lowercase letters in the middle. So it only makes sense to try passwords that meet these specific criteria. The extended mask option allows to check such passwords.

Oftentimes a password is not a set of random characters, but a meaningful word: a name, date, nickname, favorite movie/cartoon/book character, dish, country name, etc. Such topical lists of words and their combinations are called dictionaries. And a password attack based on such wordlists is referred to as a dictionary attack. By running a dictionary attack you can quickly check all popular passwords. For example, over the last few years the password 1234567890 has been top-rated as the most popular one. OMG! 10 characters! Gotta be strong enough, you think? Yeah, right :)

What if we combine several words into a single password and alter characters in it? We'll get a password that is too long for a regular brute-force attack and that can never be found in any dictionary. And yet it is possible to recover it by combining multiple dictionaries and setting character mutation/substitution rules. Passcovery programs can handle such tasks. See for example the case of Apple iOS 13.x backup file. Then we compiled a list of likely words that could possibly make up the password, added mutations rules, ran the attack and successful ly recovered the lost password.

Which attack to choose from the four listed and its efficiency depends on each specific case. Say, you know the words that make up the password, then dictionary attack with rules is what you need. If you know the structure or a part of the password, then you'd better go for extended or regular mask attack. When you don't know any details about the password, it is recommended to run a dictionary attack using wordlists of popular passwords. And still, there is no guaranteed way to recover, let alone crack a properly made and secure password (and that is great, isn't it! otherwise what's the point in protection, if anyone who has a computer could crack it?). There is no 100% guarantee, but success is still possible.

With an effective software tool, high-performance hardware, and a little information about the password, you get pretty high chances to successfully recover your lost password.

NB: All of the above refers to the latest types of secure password protection with encryption and does not apply to protection against accidental editing. The latter can always be removed instantly (as, for example, in Microsoft Office 2-2019)

How we test the best password recovery software

To test for the best password recovery software we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, then we tested the service to see how the software performed when accessed by different devices, as well as testing any additional tools that were provided. The aim was to push each password recovery software platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.

Read more on how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.

Get in touch

  • You've reached the end of the page. Jump back up to the top ^
Darcy French