How To Use Ophcrack For Desperate Times

Published: 30th May 2010
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You probably experienced a few occasions when accessing your Windows account on your computer and come up blank when trying to recall your password. You try all means to jog your memory with dates, names, events, colors, foods but nothing pops into mind. Short of seeking hypnosis to dig into the deep recesses of your subconscious, you now have the option to find out more on how to use ophcrack to recover your Windows password and regain access to your computer. At first glance of the name, you may be wondering whether ophcrack is a recreational drug. Fret not, it's free software created by someone who probably experienced one too many a memory breakdown and decided to do something about it.

Ophcrack comes to the rescue when you have sole access to your computer or you share the computer with other users who have access but insufficient privileges to reset your password. Either way, you need the services of a computer with internet access and a CD burner. Open the browser and go to the ophcrack download site. Select the operating system of your computer (to which you're attempting to retrieve your Windows password). Download time depends on your internet speed and bandwidth as the file is fairly large. Since the ophcrack software is downloaded as an ISO file (equivalent to an image of a complete CD or DVD), follow the instructions to burn ophcrack into a CD else you may encounter problems when running it later. Assuming all is well, let's proceed on how to use ophcrack on your computer.

Load the CD (also known as Ophcrack LiveCD) into your computer's CD drive and restart your computer. Being a bootable CD, ophcrack starts up your computer with its mini operating system and doesn't access your computer's operating system. If your computer doesn't boot from the CD, you'll need to change the booting configuration in your computer and set CD as top of the order. After the initial booting phase, select ophcrack to automatically run. If the ophcrack menu doesn't come up, it's possibly due to incorrect burning of CD.

A small window appears confirming that ophcrack has found the password information on your hard drive. Don't worry if you don't see it as everything is a blur with lines of text running all over your screen. The next screen is the application itself, listing all user accounts in your computer and their corresponding passwords. Search for your account and corresponding password. Slap your forehead and write down your password on a piece of paper before you forget again. Try to avert your eyes from other accounts' passwords which don't concern you. If passwords are listed as empty, this means their accounts (if enabled) are accessible without the need to enter any password. If ophcrack can't find your password, it's possibly your password is too complex, i.e. more than 14 characters in length, a combination of alphanumeric and special characters. You can resort to other password recovery tools to overcome these constraints.

Close the application and remove the CD. Restart your computer and enter your account with your recovered password. To avoid future need for ophcrack, it's recommended to use a password that's easy to recall yet not easily guessed by others. Else keep your password in a safe place or create a password reset disk and store it well.

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