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Cracking a hard drive password

Windows hardening expert Jonathan Hassell explains what to do if you can't boot up a system equipped with Windows software and how to crack Windows passwords for hard drives.

I need to crack a hard drive password to get some information off of it. My Windows software is expired though, so I cannot boot from it. I bought a USB connector for it but when I click my user name, which is password protected, it won't allow me to enter a password. How can I crack my hard drive password?
Your best bet in this case is to use a Live CD of a Linux distribution, like Ubuntu, that you can download from Ubuntu.com. You put the CD in your drive and boot your computer from it and it gives you unfettered access to most peripherals connected to your computer. This should circumvent any kind of password prompt you're getting and, unless the drive is encrypted, you should be able to access your data.

More information on password security

Password security FAQs
Check out this collection of recent password security questions for advice on cracking through a locked hard drive and what to do if you forget your password.

Password Hardening Journal
One oft-forgotten element of a secure organization is password security. Check out our Windows security journal to find out how to secure your organization at this level.

This was last published in March 2007

Dig Deeper on User passwords and network permissions

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