An increasing number of devices use wireless to access the internet – phones, netbooks and tablets in addition to the traditional laptop. So wireless security is more important than ever – but what if you have forgotten your wireless password? Can you find it again?
Wireless Passwords – Two factors conspire to make these passwords easily forgotten: 1.Strong wireless passwords (see which wireless security should I use) contain a large mix of numbers, symbols and upper/lower case letters – this makes them hard to remember.
2. Your computer saves the password once you have entered it successfully so you don’t have to type it in every time you connect – if you have not had to use it for years it is easy to forget it.
How To Find A Wireless Password – If your router is from your broadband supplier and you never changed the settings, the wireless network name and password are often written somewhere on the router! Do first look all over the router to see if they are recorded there.
There are 2 other ways to find out an existing wifi password:
Method 1. If you do have a Windows computer that connects OK to your existing wifi network
In this case, you have a laptop/PC that currently connects via wireless (because the password was previously saved in it) but you have forgotten the password and need to know it to add another device.
- Download the free portable program WirelessKeyView from Nirsoft here. Do this on the computer that is currently connected via wireless.
- There is a standard version (32bit) and also a 64bit (labelled ‘for x64’) version of the program – download the right one for your version of Windows.
Tip: if you don’t know which version your Windows is, see how to tell if Windows is 32bit or 64bit.
- The download is a zip file – unzip (extract) it into a wirelesskeyview folder and then run the wirelesskeyview.exe program.
- As shown in the example above, WirelessKeyView shows any wi-fi network names and passwords saved in your computer – the Key (Ascii) is the wireless password e.g. for network name hhhh the password is ‘NirSofer12345’. The program works on XP, Vista and W7 – and with WEP, WPA and WPA2 passwords.
Issues With WirelessKeyView
If your computer uses a manufacturer’s (e.g. Netgear/Belkin) software utility to manage networks (instead of the integrated Windows wireless software) then the program may not find the password because it is not stored within Windows – you will need to use Method 2 below to find it.
If you use XP and WPA security – the WPA password in XP is converted into a new binary key that contains 64 Hexadecimal digits. This binary key cannot be converted back to the original that you typed, but you can still use it to connect to the network exactly like the original password (it just takes longer to type in). WirelessKeyView displays the binary key in the Hex key column.
Method 2. If you do not have a computer that connects OK to your wireless network
In this case, you do not have a laptop/PC that currently connects via wireless – so you cannot use WirelessKeyView to retrieve a saved wireless password.
- Log into your router configuration page (see Note below) and browse to the wireless password section
- If the password is shown, make a note of it and use it to connect your new device via wi-fi
- If the password is not shown (some routers hide it under blobs/asterisks) then you cannot find it out – in this case you must type in and save a new password and use this to connect your laptop/phone.
Note: To log into your router configuration page and find the wireless password section – see Steps 3 and 5 of how to set up a wireless router.