How to crack a password

Preliminary notes

Breaking a password it is not a simple and immediate procedure. It requires, in fact, that you have a lot of patience and a fairly powerful computer, as often the tools suitable for this purpose require the use of many resources to try different combinations and find the right passwords.

Another important thing to know is that the tools used to find passwords are dedicated to local files and systems: if you have forgotten the password to access a Web service, a social network or an e-mail box, you will need to use the password recovery made available by the service itself (also because online services block repeated errors in typing passwords and therefore would be impossible to "attack").

In the event that you are no longer able to recover the password of an online service, perhaps because you no longer have access to the email address you used during registration or to the phone number you used for two-factor verification , I advise you to contact the support service of the service in question (for example as I explained to you in my tutorial on how to contact Facebook).

Before contacting the service, you can try to check if the password is accidentally saved in your browser: in this regard, I suggest you read another guide of mine, the one in which I recommended some methods to discover a password from a browser.

Methods of hacking a password

If you want remove the password from a file, as already anticipated, the solution may be within your reach, but it will require you to have a lot of patience, as the tools suitable for the purpose need a lot of time (and a fair amount of computing power) to do their job.

The duration of the process can be variable, as it all depends on the length and complexity of the password itself. The main methods used by software to discover passwords are as follows:

  • Dictionary: it is a very simple and fast method for recovering passwords. This system consists in using commonly used words, or in any case present in a dictionary file, in order to make the necessary attempts to recover it. Obviously, if the password used is not commonly used, or contains numbers and special characters, this method will fail.
  • Rainbow table: when a password is entered in an encrypted environment, this method compares the hash value with the one present in precompiled tables. In this way, the password can be recovered more quickly, if it is present in the tables in question.
  • Brute force: when there are no other alternatives, the brute force method (Brute-force) is the most reliable, as it consists in using all possible combinations in order to find a password. It is a system that can take a long time, depending on the length and complexity (presence of special characters, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters) of the password itself.
  • Hybrid: a hybrid method is a system that can give positive results as it is the combination of words in a dictionary and numbers or special characters. In fact, some alphabetic characters are replaced with numbers or special characters or their insertion at the beginning and at the end of the word itself.

Password hacking tools

Having clarified the systems that can be used to crack passwords, let me recommend some programs that may be right for you and can therefore help you unprotect your files.

Advanced Password Recovery (Windows)

To crack the password of a protected file on your computer, you can use the solutions produced by the company ElcomSoft Co. All these software are distributed a payment on Windows and most of them can be tested by getting a copy from the official website.

By reaching the website that I have provided you, you will be able to view in the tab For Home Users many solutions that might be right for you, based on the file you want to unprotect. Then I'll list some software related to the most common file formats.

  • Advanced Office Password Recovery - aims to remove protection from Microsoft Office documents, i.e. Word, Excel, Access, Outlook or PowerPoint, just to give an example.
  • Advanced PDF Password Recovery - recover passwords used in PDF documents. It supports up to 256-bit encryption.
  • Advanced Archive Password Recovery - aims to remove protection from ZIP and RAR compressed archives.

Unfortunately, there is no single package of password recovery programs produced by this company. The only one available is offered for business users at a price not accessible to home users.

Once you've found the software that's right for you, click the button Windows, in correspondence with the wording Download free trial version, to download the evaluation version. In this guide I will install Advanced Archive Password Recovery, just by way of example; I reassure you though, because the different programs are very similar to each other.

Once the installation file has been downloaded, double-click on it and then click on the button Next. Then accept the terms of use by clicking on the button Accept, followed by clicking the button Next twice in a row. Then click on install and then on the button Yes, in the window of Windows User Account Control. When the installation is complete, click the button Finish.

Now, open menu Home Windows and search the list for the newly installed program; then click on it to open it. After launching, click the button Open, located at the top left, and select the file whose password you want to find out.

Based on what has already been anticipated in the previous paragraph, select the method to be used to find the password, using the drop-down menu Type of attack. Then use the tabs found in the section below to configure all the parameters necessary to start the recovery procedure. For example, in tab Range you can check the boxes for characters, numbers or special symbols to be included in the process.

If you know the approximate length of the password, in tab Length you can indicate the minimum and maximum number of characters. In the evaluation version, however, you can only specify a maximum length of 4; the limit can only be removed by purchasing a user license.

When you have completed customizing the search method, click the button Start. If a positive match is found, you will see a window with the password to open the file, inside the field Password for this file.

iLovePDF (Online)

If you have a secured PDF file, then you could try to use the online service provided by iLovePDF. This website provides several features to manage PDF files, including that for removing the protection. It only works with files that are protected against printing and modification, not those that require a password on opening (to learn more about this, see my tutorial on how to remove passwords from PDFs).

iLovePDF does not require registration, but allows you to perform only two free operations per hour with any of its tools; in case you need more operations, you will need to purchase a subscription plan.

Then open the link I gave you, drag the document to unlock into the browser window and click on the button Unlock PDF, to get your file without password lock. Easier than that?

Other tools for cracking a password

If the tools I mentioned in the previous paragraphs do not fully satisfy your needs, then I recommend that you view the ones I am about to present to you in the next lines.

  • KON BOAT (live) - if you are going to crack your Windows login password (for a local account), this is the solution for you. It is a program, to be copied to CD, DVD or USB stick, and from which to boot to remove the password to access Windows. It is paid. I told you about it in great detail in my tutorial on how to bypass the Windows password.
  • Password Recovery Bundle (Windows) - this program will allow you, in a single solution, to perform password recovery procedures on any file, such as a compressed archive, a PDF or a Microsoft Office document; it also allows password removal from a Windows account. It's available paid, but you can download an evaluation version.
  • Appnimi All-In-One Password Unlocker (Windows / macOS) - as for the previous program, this also contains various functions to find the access key, a compressed archive or a document. It is paid.
  • (Online) - is an online tool that manages some operations on PDF files, including editing and conversion. If a file is protected against editing or printing, Online2PDF can remove the protection.
How to crack a password

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