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I was wondering what Windows/Linux/Live tools allow to retrieve user password hashes of modern 2021 Win10/11 installations. I am not sure if password storage differs in these cases (e.g. different location or hash in use) from previous Windows versions (NT hash stored in SAM):

  • Microsoft account logged in during installation with account password/Windows Hello access
  • Local user created during installation with password and mandatory hint/security questions
  • Local user initially created without password, and then added password via Control Panel (no hint/security questions required)
  • other setups if any
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  • Mimikatz did, at least for Windows 10 local accounts. I haven't tested it on Win11, but it should work. I don't know about Microsoft accounts, but I expect it works for them too.
    – nobody
    May 15 at 15:47

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Unless you find a specific exploit, you cannot. The system only stores non invertible hashes of the passwords.

Provide you still have one administrative account, all you can do is to reset a password if a user has forgotten it.

If you have none, you will have to boot on a removable media (provided the disk in not encrypted and the BIOS allows it) to try to erase the main administrator password - already a bit dangerous...

As a last way, you could try to re-install the system (save as much data as possible before if you can: the re-install should keep the data but losses are possible)

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  • My bad, I forgot to mention hashes, I meant password hashes. In many unix-like systems one can view them in /etc/shadow, but on Windows it seems more difficult than opening a text editor.
    – Polizi8
    Dec 16, 2021 at 13:01

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