There may be a day when you have a password protected ZIP archive on your Desktop. To reach the contents of the archive, you will need a program capable of finding the password in question, but it may take several days: you might as well know it in advance!
Part 1 of 3: Prepare your computer to find a password
Step 1. Be aware that there is a risk in this operation
You are going to download a password cracker program. It's not that it's illegal, but on the other hand, it's not legal either. These programs are often the gateway for viruses. First of all, read this article before downloading and installing such a program.
Most often, to bait the customer, the free trial versions are able to find simple passwords (toto38). If on a site you come across a program that is advertised as free and powerful, be careful, there is a risk of downloading malicious program
Step 2. Expect to… wait
If the password is short and simple (uniform characters, no particular symbol), count a few hours, otherwise for a long and complex password, count rather several days, even weeks.
There is no program that can find a complex password in a matter of minutes. If it is announced to you as such, you can be sure that it is malware
Step 3. Close some programs
As the processor will be heavily used, free up computing power and RAM by closing certain programs, such as photo editors or video games.
Finding a password comes down to doing calculations and even if your computer is equipped with a powerful processor, it takes several days to break a password, even a ZIP archive
Step 4. Place your ZIP archive on the Desktop
This is the easiest area to access, as it is a necessary passage point, so it is a good idea before going any further to place your ZIP archive there from the start.
- To copy and paste the ZIP archive, click on the folder, do the combination Control + C (Windows) or Command + C (Mac), click on the Desktop, then do the combination Control + V or Command + V.
- First of all, if your ZIP archive is stored on a mobile device (smartphone, tablet), transfer it to your computer.
Part 2 of 3: With John the Ripper
Step 1. Understand how this program works
Free, John the Ripper is a program that runs from the command prompt and as the name suggests, it will open something. Its installation and use are delicate.
Step 2. Download John the Ripper
Run your Internet browser of choice and go to the John the Ripper download page. Click on one of the links that corresponds to your machine (Windows, Linux, macOS), the choice is made in the first two paragraphs of the page.
Step 3. Unzip the John the Ripper file
Simply double click on the ZIP archive, click on the tab Extract, then on Extract all, and finally on Extract: a window will open.
Step 4. Install John the Ripper
It does not install like common programs, the best is to install the program folder on your Desktop, remembering to rename it john:
- in the extraction window that opened, select the john180j1w folder by clicking once on it;
- press Control + C;
- open the Desktop, then do Control + V;
- right click on the folder, then choose Rename;
- type john, then validate with the Enter key.
Step 5. Place your ZIP archive in the run folder
Select it, then copy it using Control + C. Open the john folder, then the run subfolder and paste your archive into it using Control + V.
Step 6. Run the command prompt
It allows you to control your computer with very specific commands. For execution, proceed as follows:
- click on To start up (
- type command prompt;
- click on Command prompt (
), this is the best result at the top of the window.
Step 7. Change the name of the John the Ripper run folder
To do this, type
cd desktop / john / run, then validate with Enter.
Step 8. Enter the run command
zip2john.exe name.zip> name.hash replacing name with the name of your ZIP archive, then press Enter.
If your ZIP archive is called hello, you would type the following command:
zip2john.exe hello.zip> hello.hash.
Step 9. Define the hash of the ZIP archive
Type name.hash (name will of course be replaced by the name of your ZIP archive), then press Enter. Here is ! You are ready to proceed to unlocking the archive.
Step 10. Start cracking the password
john.exe --pot = name.pot --wordlist = john / run / password lst name.hash, then press Enter. John the Ripper then searches his database of predefined passwords for the one that could protect your ZIP archive.
- In this command, you will have to replace name twice with the name of your ZIP archive (name.pot and name.hash).
- The password lst file contains a list of passwords, along with all their variations (character permutations).
Step 11. Control the display of the password
Once the password is determined, you will see The session ended successfully on the last line of the prompt. Then type type name.pot (replace name with the name of your archive), then press Enter and the password for the ZIP archive should appear.
Part 3 of 3: With paid software
Step 1. Understand how this software works
These paid software have a free part to find simple passwords, but when it comes to finding more complicated passwords, the software becomes, and it makes sense, paid.
On the other hand, let's recognize that their handling is quite easy and the interface user-friendly
Step 2. Don't go for just any software
Yours must have a trial version and must be able to use one of the brute force techniques.
Step 3. Download professional password recovery software
The ones we show you are all chargeable, but they are among the best on the market. It is:
- Advanced Archive Password Recovery at:
Zip Password Recovery Professional at:
- ZipKey at:
Step 4. Run the password recovery software
Like any software, execution is done by clicking or double-clicking on the software icon.
Step 5. Select your password protected ZIP archive
Depending on the software, click a button Browse Where Add, click on the ZIP archive, then on a button To open Where To choose.
Often, too, it is possible to take the archive to be unlocked with the mouse and drop it on the main window of the software
Step 6. Choose one of the three or four principles of recovery
For the more sophisticated of them, you have the choice between the attack (that's what this recovery is called!) By brute force, by dictionary, by mask or by simple text.
The dictionary, which can be configured, is used in cases where you know some elements of the password or if you know it entirely, with the exception of the particular characters (&, #, @) or the case used (lowercase or uppercase)
Step 7. Start the password search
Just click the button Start (To start up) Where Run (Execute) of your application, then all you have to do is wait. We said it: it can take days!
Step 8. Recover password from ZIP archive
Hoping that it has been found, you will see a mention appear inviting you to discover it. You just have to test it by launching the decompression of the archive.
- Serious software always gives you a search option, then another if the first one fails. There are three search methods.
- The dictionary attack is based on testing thousands of predefined passwords in a dictionary. If the password is complex, it may not be there.
- The brute force attack is based on the combination test. It is useful for short passwords with a fast processor.
- The brute force mask attack is useful if you have some information in advance about the password, for example, that it contains only lowercase letters or only numbers.
- Expect to let your computer run for several days before the program discovers the password.
- The duration of a successful brute force attack depends on the power of your computer. The calculations are certainly simple, but the machine is very strained and after a certain time, the processor may even lay down its weapons.
- These password recovery software are legal, nothing prevents you from using them for honest purposes.
- Downloading, modifying and using software without the agreement of its designer often falls, and this is the case in France, under the law.