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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Q: How long does it normally take to recover a password?

Passwords that cannot be recovered or reset instantly (for example, file-open passwords for Rar, Zip, Word and Excel 2007, MS Money, Lotus Notes) are searched by basic Dictionary, Xieve, Brute-force, and Previous Passwords attacks. It may take from a few minutes up to several days to find a password, depending on the file type, and the password length and symbol set.

For example, it usually takes 10 hours to check all 8-letter file-open passwords from Word/Excel 2003 on an average Intel Core Duo system processing 1,000,000 passwords per second.

You can significantly reduce time needed to recover a password by using patterns if any part of the password is known. Just enter this part in the Pattern field at Brute-force Attack Settings -> Advanced -> Pattern. Known parts can be separated with '*' or '?'. For example, pattern "*p?e*" will match both "apple" and "pie". You can also specify the known part by joining the Known Password/Part attack with other attacks. For example, if you know your password is a word followed by "1980", use Join Attacks to combine a Dictionary attack and a Known Password/Part attack with the value set to "1980".

To accelerate the password recovery process, also try changing other settings: range of password length, symbol set, etc.

Passware Kit uses advanced hardware acceleration methods: nVidia GPU cards, multiple-CPUs, Tableau TACC hardware accelerators, and Distributed Password Recovery.

For MS Word and Excel 95 - 2003 files, use the Decryptum attack to preview and decrypt your files instantly. With Decryptum, it takes less than a minute to decrypt any MS Word/Excel file, regardless of the password length.

Q: What is Distributed Password Recovery and how do I use it?

Distributed Password Recovery is an acceleration feature that distributes a password recovery process among multiple computers to achieve the highest performance. This feature is enabled in Passware Kit Enterprise and Passware Kit Forensic. See the step-by-step instructions on using Distributed Password Recovery.

Q: Does your Distributed Password Recovery take advantage of remote GPUs or TACCs?

Yes, for distributed password recovery Passware Kit allows using all hardware accelerators available in your network, both TACC devices and GPU cards.

Q: Why do I sometimes get random characters instead of the original passwords?

Passwords for databases, such as QuickBooks, FileMaker, MYOB, as well as passwords to modify Word and Excel files, can be reset instantly. Our software instantly generates new passwords to unprotect such files. It is normal for a new password to look like a set of random characters. Just copy and paste the new password to unlock your file.

To unlock your QuickBooks or FileMaker database, make sure you open the same file that was processed by our software. The new passwords will not work with the original file or its backup copy.

For password-protected Visual Basic projects in MS Office files, our software generates new passwords and creates unprotected files. These new passwords work with the unprotected files only, and do not work with the original files.

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Q: How much does it cost to update Passware product to the latest version?

All Passware software includes one year of updates and revisions.

If you purchased Passware product more than a year ago, you can get the latest version with a 50% discount.

Please complete the request form to get the most current update/revision of the software.

For Passware Kit Enterprise and Passware Kit Forensic owners a yearly subscription to updates is available.

More information...

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Q: Why is Passware Kit connecting to the Internet when I run the Default Attacks to recover my password?

Default password recovery attacks include Decryptum, which instantly decrypts MS Word/Excel files. Decryption is performed on your computer based on decryption key received from the Passware decryption server.

In order to get this decryption key, Decryptum sends a small part of your file to the Passware server over the Internet. The file never leaves your computer, so the security and confidentiality of your data is not affected.

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Q: How do I reset Administrator password on a different computer?

You do not need to install Windows Key or Passware Kit on the computer you want to reset a password for. Launch Windows Key/Passware Kit and create a password reset bootable CD on any computer you have access to. Then reboot the locked computer with this CD to reset the password.

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Q: How can I transfer Passware product to another PC?

You can copy the installation file (.msi) for our software on any removable device and install the product on your other PC using the same product key. If you no longer have the installation file or the product key, fill out this form and we will resend the information to you.

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Q: How do I uninstall Passware product?

You can uninstall our software directly from the "Add or Remove Programs" list at Start->Settings->Control Panel, or follow the steps below:

  • Run the Passware Kit installation file (.msi) again.
  • Click the Remove button.
  • Follow the on-screen instructions.
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Q: Can Passware products recover passwords for multiple files simultaneously?

Yes. Passware Kit supports batch file processing, recovering passwords for multiple files one by one in an automated way.

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Q: What models of GPU cards do you recommend for hardware acceleration?

In our tests, NVIDIA GeForce GTX cards (i.e., GTX 590) have shown the best price-performance relationship.

Learn more about system recommendations.

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Q: I don't have any Windows 8/7, Server 2012/2008/2003, Vista, XP, or 2000 Setup CD. How do I use Passware Kit to reset a Windows Administrator password?

You can request a Windows Key.ISO file for download. Then burn this ISO image on a blank CD to get a password reset bootable disk.

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Q: Windows Key/Passware Kit cannot find any Windows installations on my hard disk. What is wrong?

The most probable cause is that your SCSI or RAID hard-disk drive controller is not supported by the standard Windows Setup CD used to create a password reset disk. Please download additional drivers for your RAID/SCSI controller at the hardware vendor website. Specify the downloaded driver while creating a password reset ISO image file, and Windows Key/Passware Kit will copy it on the image.

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Q: Does Passware Kit work with Hard Drive encryption?

Yes. Passware Kit Enterprise and Passware Kit Forensic decrypt BitLocker, TrueCrypt, PGP, and Apple FileVault2 hard drive images using live memory analysis, as well as apply common attacks to recover the passwords for such disks.

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Q: Can the software decrypt a BitLocker or TrueCrypt drive that was not mounted when the memory image was acquired?

Yes. First of all, the system hibernation file (hiberfil.sys) can be used instead of the memory image. If neither the memory image, nor the hibernation file contain the BitLocker/TrueCrypt encryption keys, Passware Kit assigns common attacks to recover the original password.

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Q: Does Passware Kit support .E01 disk image files?

Yes. Passware Kit Enterprise and Passware Kit Forensic support EnCase .E01 image files to recover BitLocker and TrueCrypt encryption keys.

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Q: How do I use Passware Kit with Guidance EnCase?

All Guidance EnCase (v6 and higher, 32-bit version) users can now utilize Passware Kit Forensic to detect and decrypt encrypted files in a case. Thanks to integration with Passware Kit Forensic, EnCase can detect over 200 encrypted file types and initiate a password recovery process if required.

More information...

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Q: Do Passware products support Macintosh?

The software is Windows-only. However, it recovers passwords for some file formats created on Mac, such as FileMaker, Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, etc.

Parallels Desktop or Virtual PC could be used to run the software on a Mac.

Passware Kit Forensic is also capable of acquiring memory images on Mac computers and subsequent extraction of Mac user passwords and hard disk encryption keys from them.

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Q: How do I use a Portable Version?

You can use the Password Recovery Kit to find encrypted files and recover lost passwords on other computers without installing the software there. The Portable Version can be installed on any removable device, i.e., a USB drive or a CD, and then used directly from this device on a target computer.

The overall steps are:

  1. Prepare a portable version on a CD or USB disk using the Create Portable Version… option in the File menu
  2. Run a portable version on a target computer

NOTE: Passware Kit Portable is available with Passware Kit Forensic edition only.

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Q: What are the limitations for the demo version? Why did it fail to recover my password?

The demo version allows each of the attacks to work for up to 1 minute.

For those passwords that can be recovered instantly, Passware Kit Demo displays the first 3 characters. Otherwise, Passware Kit Demo recovers passwords which are not longer than 3 characters.

The demo version helps you to evaluate the product and check if your files are supported.

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Q: What do the "No accounts detected" and "No installations detected" errors by Messenger Key mean?

MSN and Yahoo Messengers store account information in a registry. The fact that Messenger Key fails to find any installation or account on your system means that MSN/Yahoo Messenger installation or this registry record must have become corrupted. Unfortunately, Messenger Key is unable to recover a password in this case.

To recover your password, please try other methods described in our Knowledge Base.

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Q: Why does Symantec Anti-Virus keep blocking Asterisk Key?

Symantec (Norton Antivirus in particular) considers Asterisk Key to be malware (hacktool) which threatens system security, since it reveals hidden passwords and is freeware. See this article for more information.

You can delete our software from the Quarantine List manually or just disable the A-V activity during the installation.

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Q: What bearing does Passware software have on Windows security?

Passware software products are designed as tools for administrators, not for "crackers". The product has no bearing on Windows security rating, because it requires physical access to the machine. In any computer system, true security from break-ins is achievable only by isolating the machine from distrusted individuals.

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Q: What are the terms of the end user license agreement for Passware software?

View the License Agreement (PDF) document.

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