Runner-up: iSunshare Windows Password Genius Windows/macOS/Android, $19.95+
Did you know that Windows 10 has been installed on more than one billion devices? All those Windows 10 user accounts have either passwords or PINs assigned to them. So, quite a few users have probably forgotten their Windows account passwords. Users who forget their login details can get into quite a pickle when they haven’t taken any password recovery precautions.
The best precaution to take against forgetting your login password is to set up a password reset disk. The reset disk is a bootable media, such as a USB flash drive, that you can utilize to regain access to a Windows account you can’t log in to. Windows password recovery software enables users to set up reset disks. Here we’ve selected some of the best Windows password recovery software of 2020.
- PassFab 4WinKey Ultimate is one of our top Windows password recovery tools as it includes a comprehensive range of options for resetting both non-domain and domain user accounts. It’s also compatible with a range of additional Windows Server platforms dating back to 2011. However, the Standard version has much more limited features than the Ultimate edition.
- iSunshare Windows Password Genius Advanced also has a comparable feature set to PassFab 4WinKey. All its editions support a wide range of Windows platforms dating back to NT. We were also impressed with this program’s UI design and accessibility.
- Ophcrack is the best value Windows password recovery software for recovering lost passwords. It is a freely available open-source program with which users can recover existing passwords for Windows user accounts.
What is Windows Password Recovery?
Windows password recovery is the process of re-establishing a password for your user account. It’s worth noting that doesn’t necessarily mean retrieving the original password. Not all reset disks will enable users to recover original passwords. They will, however, enable users to re-establish passwords with which they can log in to Windows by resetting them to new ones (or maybe even removing them). However, users can also retrieve existing passwords with some third-party Windows password recovery tools.
Who Should Get A Windows Password Recovery Software
Anybody who doesn’t want to take the precaution of noting down a user account password on paper should certainly consider getting Windows password recovery software. Setting up a password reset disk is probably a better precaution than noting login details down onto a piece of paper that somebody else could find. So, setting up a password reset disk with Windows password recovery software is a recommended precautionary measure for most users.
If you haven’t set up a reset disk before forgetting the password, however, you can still recover the password with Windows password recovery software so long as you can log in to another account. If you have another desktop or laptop, you can download the required third-party software with that and set up the reset disk from there. Reset disks set up with third-party software can still be utilized to recover passwords on other PCs. So, users with secondary PCs can wait until they’ve forgotten one of their passwords before downloading Windows password reset software!
Our Picks: Best Windows Password Recovery Software in 2020
PassFab 4WinKey is Windows password recovery software that provides comprehensive recovery options for its users. The software has Standard, Professional, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions. It’s worth noting that the Ultimate edition is the only one you can reset passwords with (the others are limited to removing passwords). Therefore, we recommend the Ultimate version.
PassFab 4WinKey Ultimate is one of the best Windows password recovery software. It enables both non-domain and domain users to recover passwords for various platforms (including Server operating systems). With its reset disk, you can both reset or remove admin/guest passwords, reset Microsoft passwords, set up new local admin accounts, and delete Windows local administrator accounts. Although its other editions are a little limited in comparison, the Ultimate version has a good range of options for password recovery.
iSunshare Windows Password Genius is a reliable and straightforward to use Windows password recovery tool with which you can set up both USB flash drive and DVD reset disks. Like 4WinKey, this software has four alternative editions, the best of which is the $79 Raid package (for Raid computers). However, the $19.95 iSunshare Windows Password Genius Standard is sufficient to remove and reset local administrator and user passwords. All editions are compatible with Windows (and its Server) platforms from NT up.
iSunshare Windows Password Genius has an intuitive UI design that makes it an accessible Windows password recovery tool. The $39.95 Advanced edition is the best Windows password reset software as that enables its users to reset local and domain administrator passwords along with those for Windows 10 Microsoft accounts. Its users can also set up new local and domain administrator accounts from which they can modify the passwords for the accounts they can’t log in. On top of that, all iSunshare Windows Password Genius editions come with a freely available upgrade and technical support.
Ophcrack is the best open-source Windows password recovery software for recovering existing Windows passwords. So, this software can also be considered a Windows password cracker utility. Ophcrack is compatible with Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux platforms.
What sets Ophcrack apart from the likes of PassFab is that it has been specifically designed to retrieve existing passwords. Thus, this software truly enables you to recover a forgotten password as opposed to changing it. You can utilize Ophcrak by burning its ISO to bootable media to run it from startup. It even incorporates its own basic operating system that enables you to utilize it outside the OS. When it’s up and running, this software can feasibly recover all Windows user account passwords on a PC. However, Ophcrack isn’t 100 percent guaranteed to always recover Windows passwords; and you can’t reset passwords with it.
PCUnlocker is Windows password recovery software that is more specifically for resetting passwords. This software has Standard, Professional, and Enterprise editions retailing at $19.95-$49.95. All editions will be more than adequate for password recovery. However, the Enterprise package also enables users to reset domain user passwords and supports UEFI-based systems.
PCUnlocker undoubtedly offers a pretty impressive feature set for password recovery. You can utilize it to reset admin and local account passwords, bypass passwords without changing the current ones, and unlock disabled or expired Windows accounts. PCUnlocker Enterprise users can also unblock Active Directory accounts and set up new admin accounts. Furthermore, you can even reset passwords from virtual machines running with various virtualization software.
Offline NT Password & Registry Editor is a fast Windows password recovery tool that’s a good open-source alternative to the likes of PassFab. Although it looks like a DOS program, it’s still an efficient utility for setting up password reset disks. The developer has confirmed this software has been tested on Windows platforms dating back to NT3.5. So, you can utilize it for most Windows platforms (including some Server versions).
The Offline NT Password & Registry Editor program enables you to completely erase your Windows password via USB flash drive or disc bootable media. After that, you can log in to Windows by leaving the password field blank. Admittedly, this program doesn’t come loaded with many other password recovery features. However, it’s a no-nonsense utility that’s freely available and gets the job done.
Frequently Asked Question – Windows Password Recovery
1. How Do I Choose the Best Windows Password Recovery Software for Me?
Platform compatibility and cost are certainly two important factors. All of the above software will enable you to recover passwords one way or another, but their Windows platform compatibility and pricing varies. Offline NT Password & Registry Editor is of the poorest programs of the above five selected in terms of features and UI design (it doesn’t have a graphical interface), but it’s freely available and compatible with most Windows platforms. So, you’ve got little to lose from setting up a reset disk with that utility.
Also note that not all Windows password recovery software can reset domain user account passwords. For example, PCUnlocker Standard can’t reset passwords for domain accounts, but the Enterprise edition can. Thus, domain account users will need to choose software that enables them to reset domain passwords. So, make sure the software version you select is system compatible and allows you to recover the password for the required user account type.
2. What’s the Difference between the Commercial Windows Password Recovery Tools and the Free Ones?
The freely available software selected, Ophcrack and Offline NT Password & Registry Editor, are open-source programs. That means their code is openly shared. Software publishers don’t share code for commercial Windows password recovery tools. Besides that, developers don’t offer dedicated customer support services for open-source software, which you can usually expect to be available for commercial packages.
3. Will Windows Password Recovery Cause Data Loss?
Not if you utilize the above software! The above software has been designed to ensure you can recover Windows passwords without losing any data.
4. Can I Recover My Forgotten Password without Using a Windows Password Recovery Software?
Windows does include a reset disk utility that enables you to set up bootable media for password recovery. Therefore, you don’t need third-party software to set up a precautionary reset disk when you can still log in to your Windows account. However, users can only utilize reset disks set up with Windows’ built-in tool to reset passwords for the PCs they were set up on. So, you’ll still need to set up a password recovery reset disk with third-party software if you can’t utilize your PC.
Aside from reset disks, the Windows 10 login screen includes a forgot my password option you can select to reset a password after entering a verification code. Microsoft account users can also reset their Windows passwords via the big M’s password reset web page. So, there are some alternative ways you can reset forgotten passwords without third-party software.
5. What’s the Difference between the Standard Accounts, Administrator Accounts, and Microsoft Accounts?
A standard user account is one in which you can open user files and software, but user rights are restricted. Admin account users can also edit system files and adjust system-wide settings. A Microsoft account is one registered with the big M that provides access to all the company’s primary services, such as OneDrive and MS Store. You can also sign in to Windows 10 with your Microsoft account.
6. How to Boot the Locked Computer from USB or CD/DVD?
You’ll need to configure the PC to boot from the bootable media that includes the reset disk. You can do that by inserting the password reset bootable media, turning on the PC, and pressing the F12 key (key can vary) during the system startup. Then select your reset disk bootable media device on the Boot tab within the BIOS.
Those are five of the best Windows password recovery tools to take your pick from. The likes of 4WinKey and PCUnlocker include a wide variety of features for password recovery. So, setting up reset disks with those software packages will enable you to regain a password for your user account in various ways.