This wikiHow teaches you how to access a ZIP folder protected by an unknown password. The only way to do this is by downloading a program that can crack the password through a process that can take up to days to complete.
Part 1 of 3: Prepare to remove a password
Step 1. Understand the risks
You have to download a program that guesses the password of the ZIP folder. Before doing so, be aware that this could infect your computer with viruses. Find out about good browsing practices and install an antivirus program before continuing.
Most of the free trial versions are only capable of cracking short passwords. If a program other than the ones mentioned here offers free unlimited password cracking, you better refrain from downloading it as it may be malware
Step 2. Please note that this process can take a long time
Most password cracking programs can take up to several hours to guess the simplest passwords. Realistically, this process will likely take several days to complete.
There is no method that can systematically guess a password in a few minutes. Any service that claims to be able to do so is probably malware
Step 3. Close any programs that are running in the background
You need as much processing speed as possible on your computer. So better close programs that consume a lot of resources such as Photoshop, video games, audio and video players, etc.
Even using the maximum processing power of your computer to try to crack the ZIP folder password, this process can take several days
Step 4. Place the ZIP folder on the desktop
The desktop is the most easily accessible location on your computer, so drag the ZIP folder to the desktop before trying to crack the password.
- You can also copy and paste the ZIP folder by selecting it, pressing Ctrl + C (Windows) or Command + C (Mac), going to the desktop, and pressing Ctrl + V (Windows) or Command + V (Mac).
- If the ZIP folder is on a mobile device, for example a smartphone or tablet, transfer it to your computer before continuing.
Part 2 of 3: Using John the Ripper
Step 1. Understand how this method works
John the Ripper is a free, command-line-based program used to crack passwords. Unfortunately, despite being free, it is often difficult to install and use.
Step 2. Download John the Ripper
Go to http://www.openwall.com/john/ in a web browser on your computer, click the link Ripper 1.8.0-jumbo-1 (Windows binaries, ZIP, 34 MB) in the "community enhance version" section near the bottom of the page.
Step 3. Extract John the Ripper
Double click the ZIP folder you downloaded, click the tab Extract, later Remove all, Extract, and wait for the window to open.
Step 4. Install John the Ripper
John the Ripper doesn't install like most normal programs, but you can install it on the desktop by moving its folder there and renaming it "john":
- In the window that will open after extraction, click on the "john180j1w" folder.
- Press Ctrl + C.
- Open the desktop and then press Ctrl + V.
- Right click on the folder and select Rename.
- Type john and press ↵ Enter.
Step 5. Put the ZIP folder in John the Ripper's "run" folder
Copy the folder by clicking on it and pressing Ctrl + C. Then open the "john" folder, open the "run" folder, click on a blank space and press Ctrl + V.
Step 6. Open Command Prompt
It's the command line program on your computer:
- Click on
- Type command prompt.
- Click on
Symbol of the system at the top of the Start window.
Step 7. Change the current directory to John the Ripper's "run" folder
Type cd desktop / john / run and press ↵ Enter.
Step 8. Enter the "run" command
Type zip2john.exe name.zip> name.hash (making sure to replace "name" with the name of your ZIP folder) and press ↵ Enter.
For example, if your ZIP folder is called "hello", then here you would enter: zip2john.exe hello.zip> hello.hash
Step 9. Define the hash of your ZIP folder
Type name.hash (where "name" is the name of your hash file) and press ↵ Enter. From now on, everything is ready to start cracking the password.
Step 10. Start the password cracking process
Type john.exe --pot = name.pot --wordlist = john / run / password.lst name.hash and press ↵ Enter. John the Ripper will now start comparing your ZIP folder password to his password database.
- You will need to replace "name" in "name.pot" and "name.hash" with the name of your ZIP folder.
- The file "password.lst" contains a list of passwords and all their permutations.
Step 11. Show the cracked password
After the password has been cracked, the message "Session complete" will appear at the bottom of the Command Prompt. From then on, you can type "name.pot" (once again, substituting "name" for the name of your folder) and press ↵ Enter to see the password for the ZIP folder.
Part 3 of 3: Use payment software
Step 1. Understand how this works
Most professional password cracking programs allow you to crack a file's password if it is less than a certain number of characters. However, in order to decrypt most files, you will need to purchase a program.
The positive side of using these types of programs is that they are generally user-friendly
Step 2. Know what to look for
The program you choose to crack your password should come with a free trial and should use brute force cracking techniques.
Step 3. Download and install a professional password cracking program
The following options are recommended, although in the end you will have to buy the program:
- Advanced Archive Password Recovery:
- Zip Password Recovery Professional:
Step 4. Open your password cracker program
Once you have installed the password cracker program, open it by clicking or double-clicking the program icon.
Step 5. Select your password protected ZIP folder
Usually you have to click on an option that says Browse (examine), Open (to open) or Add in the program (add program). Then you have to select the ZIP folder you want to decrypt and click on Open (to open) or Choose (choose).
In some password cracking programs, the ZIP folder can be clicked and dragged into the program window
Step 6. Choose the option to guess the password
In most cases you have to select the option Brute force (brute force), but maybe you will find another option called Dictionary (dictionary) or something similar, in which you can choose a list of words similar to the one you enter.
The dictionary method is best in cases where you know part of the password or you know the phrase you used (but you don't know if there are upper or lower case or other characters)
Step 7. Start cracking the ZIP password
Click the button Run (to execute) or Start (start), then wait for the password to finish cracking. As mentioned above, this process can take up to days to complete.
Step 8. Check the decrypted password of the ZIP
Once the password has been cracked, a notification should appear in the program. Now you can use the cracked password to open your ZIP folder.
- Programs usually offer several different methods. For best results, try each of them:
- Dictionary attack: test a list of words. If it works, it is much faster than the other options. But there is a high probability that it will fail, as not all passwords fall into this category.
- Brute Force Attack - Guess every possible combination. It only works with short passwords and fast processors.
- Masked brute force: If you remember something about the password, you can tell the program before it starts using brute force. For example, it will only test combinations that use letters and not numbers.
- You may need to leave your computer alone for several days, until the password is finished cracking.
- Copying or downloading licensed software without paying for it, or without the consent of its owner, is illegal in most countries.
- Password cracking programs can be used legally, but only to access files for which you have permission to access.
- Brute force attacks can take a long time depending on the speed of your processor. Your computer may become unresponsive due to processor overload if decryption takes longer than expected.