Password recovery tools

March 15, 2008

Taken on a new job? Inherited someone else’s password-protected documents and the only person who knows the password is long gone? You don’t have a lot of alternatives, unless you want to spend an inordinate amount of time retyping the document (assuming you can see it on screen or as a printout), scanning a hard copy then using OCR software to extract the content, or, if it’s a PDF, converting it back to Word then reformatting to get it to look like it was.

At times like these—and hopefully you’ll only ever have a few such times in your working life—you need a password extraction utility such as the ones from Intelore (http://www.intelore.com/).

They claim that their software can extract passwords from all Office documents (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and the like), various accounting packages, and others. Ken E on one of my technical writing lists tried out a couple of software solutions, and recommended Intelore. For an individual document type, you pay US$29.95 for the relevant software; for all Microsoft Office document types, it’s US$79.95 (personal use only—it’s slightly more for business use). You can evaluate the software for free, though it will only reveal the first couple of characters in the password.

The downloads are tiny (less than 2MB), and, compared to the cost of your time trying to recover a password-protected document, it’s cheap.

[Link and prices checked February 2008]

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