Where are passwords stored on the computer and how can I view them if necessary?

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Where are passwords stored on the computer and how can I view them if necessary?
Where are passwords stored on the computer and how can I view them if necessary?

Everyone knows that users quite often forget passwords for various programs, Internet sites, or even those combinations that are used to enter the system. Therefore, the problem of their rapid recovery arises. But where are all the passwords entered on the computer stored? How to find and view them if necessary? Alas, everything is not so simple. In the simplest case, you can find out passwords for Internet resources, but there are many problems with local or network passwords, especially since it is not possible to view them using Windows tools, and not all ordinary users can master the use of specialized software. But to understand the overall picture, the material below will bring some clarity.

Where are passwords stored on the computer: general information

To begin with, it should be noted that there is no single and universal place to store passwordsthere are no combinations. The main problem is that the operating system uses its own storage in the form of encrypted files that are inaccessible to the user and protected from viewing. Some programs may store user data in their own preference files. But if you figure out where browser passwords are stored on your computer, then you don’t need to know the location, since you can view all the saved combinations directly in them. But more on that later.

How and where are passwords stored on the computer related to login and network settings stored?

But let's start from the fact that we first need to find out exactly the location where the file with user passwords is saved, and not look at the original combination. Local user combinations related to logging in or to being able to use network connections are stored directly in each user's directory, conventionally referred to as the User SID. In the XP version, the Credentials folder is used as a location, and in Vista and higher, the Random ID subdirectory is chosen as such a place.

Directories of user passwords in the registry
Directories of user passwords in the registry

In the HKU registry branch, password file locations correspond to keys in the form of long combinations starting with the values "S-1-5-21". But in most cases this is only an indication of the files themselves, since it is impossible to view the saved combinations either in the files themselves or even in the registry, although you can change the original passwords stored on the computer quite simply throughappropriate settings for managing network connections or user accounts that are available in the GUI.

Administrator passwords in the registry
Administrator passwords in the registry

For administrator login passwords, you can look at the SAM registry key.

For VPN and Dial-Up connections, the HKLM registry branch has Secrets and SECURITY sections with keys like RasDialParams, but they don't provide any special information to the average user. Another thing is that you can view and change the network access password either in the Windows settings or directly on the router. By the way, password combinations are stored in a similar way for most mail clients or third-party utilities built into the system, if they are presented in the form of separate applications, which does not apply to Internet services like Mail. Ru mail or something like that.

Skype password save location and problems viewing search combinations

Quite often you have to find out where passwords for installed programs are stored on your computer. In particular, this applies to the popular Skype application, with which many users have recently experienced problems logging into their own accounts.

Skype password file
Skype password file

The installed application stores the user combination in a special XML file, where the hash value () corresponds to the password. Yes, but here the password is presented in hexadecimal form and it’s impossible to view it just like that. Therefore, for suchtargets, you must use a HEX editor. But the use of such utilities without the appropriate knowledge of the result may not give.

View passwords in browsers

Now let's see where passwords are stored on the computer that are stored directly in web browsers that are used to surf the Internet. Actually, as mentioned above, the location of the files itself does not interest us.

View passwords in Chrome browser
View passwords in Chrome browser

But you can view passwords directly in the browser, if in the main settings section go to the saved passwords management point, where the list will show all the resources for which such combinations have been saved. Next, you just need to click on the button or link to show the password, after which the forgotten combination can be transferred to a text file or simply written down.

Specialized programs for "pulling out" all entered passwords

But it can be assumed that it is not enough for the user to know where passwords are stored on the computer, but they still need to somehow “pull” them out of the system for viewing. There are no tools to perform such operations in Windows systems themselves, but you can easily use all kinds of third-party programs like Password Recovery Tool, PSexec, which is part of the PSTools package, PasswordSpy or similar.

Password Spy
Password Spy

They just need to activate the scanning of system components to detect saved passwords, and then set them to be extracted and converted into a readable form.


As you can see, everything related to the place and form of saving password combinations, even for many experienced users, may seem quite complicated. But if you change or view them, there should not be any particular difficulties, since some standard system tools and third-party applications that are very easy to use will do for this. However, in this case, it is completely optional to know exactly the storage location in the form of a specific directory or an encrypted file.

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