Client forgot the password to excel file. How can I remove security for him?

I have an excel 2013 file that a client forgot the password to. Are there any legitimate tools that we can use as IT folks to clear the password since the older security no longer applies?
Patrick DomanCTO / PresidentAsked:
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Hi Patrick,

Passwords on newer MS Office formats (Excel 2007 onwards) are now pretty much secure as far as we know.

There are services and software out there that will try to break them using brute force, but if the user put a 'good' password on the file, it is not likely it will be easily broken.

If the user knows some of the password, or can narrow the range, such as specifying a exact / maximum / range of number of characters, or perhaps knowing that it starts with a given string of characters then you might be able to get it, but the best option is usually to just restore the file from a backup prior to being password protected (if such exists), and accept that any changes since will be lost and have to be recreated.

All this assumes it was not an older Excel file format.

Hope that helps,


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Patrick DomanCTO / PresidentAuthor Commented:
He gave me two to try. I put the number of characters in the program and it spent 48 hours brute forcing the password. I didn't see an area where I could type in a word like his old password. I just had the option to pick the number of characters.
Hi Patrick,

It would depend on the software you are using - they will all have different capabilities.

The paid services probably have a better chance since they will be able to try substantially more passwords per second than you can do, but there will be a cost to try, albeit probably better value if it is just one file.

In general though, I would say they need to either recover the password from the user, or restore a backup from prior.  If the user is gone, or not co-operative, and there is no backup, then they may be out of luck.

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Patrick DomanCTO / PresidentAuthor Commented:
Advanced Office Password Recovery. I am trying a mask attack on it using a last known password
Okay - Good luck, but I would not raise any hopes with the client.

Better to be pessimistic and pleasantly surprise them, than to disappoint :-)

Patrick DomanCTO / PresidentAuthor Commented:
I told him that at the beginning. I would try my best.
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