.PWL File Recovery

Have files been deleted due to a user’s error or software error? Have you formatted a disk by accident and need to know how to recover the files? Read our .PWL file recovery guide for Windows, MacOS, Android and IOS in 2024.

PWL File Recovery

What is a .PWL file?

Password file used by Windows for user logins, network and dial-up passwords; may contain up to 255 passwords, each which store a resource type, name, and password; stored in a proprietary encrypted format in the Windows directory.

What Are Common Causes of ".PWL" Files Lost or Failure?

There are several common causes for ".PWL" (Password List) files being lost or failing:

  1. Accidental deletion: Users may accidentally delete the ".PWL" file while trying to clean up their computer or remove unnecessary files.
  2. System crashes: Unexpected system crashes or power outages can cause the ".PWL" file to become corrupted or lost.
  3. Software conflicts: Conflicts between different software programs or incompatible software versions can lead to the ".PWL" file being deleted or rendered unusable.
  4. File system errors: Errors in the file system, such as disk errors or file corruption, can result in the loss or failure of the ".PWL" file.
  5. Virus or malware infections: Malicious software can target and corrupt or delete ".PWL" files, making them inaccessible.
  6. Operating system upgrades: Upgrading the operating system can sometimes cause compatibility issues with existing files, including the ".PWL" file.
  7. User error: Users may unintentionally modify or delete the ".PWL" file while attempting to manage their passwords or user accounts.

It is important to regularly back up ".PWL" files or use alternative password management solutions to minimize the risk of data loss or failure.

How to recover lost ".PWL" files?

Sometimes while working with a computer, laptop or other stationary or mobile devices, you may encounter various bugs, freezes, hardware or software failures, even in spite of regular updates and junk cleaning. As a result, an important ".PWL" file may be deleted.

Go to view
🧺 How to Recover Files and Folders After Sending Them to the Recycle Bin and Deleting? (Windows 11)

🧺 How to Recover Files and Folders After Sending Them to the Recycle Bin and Deleting? (Windows 11)

By no means should you think that the only way to recover a ".PWL" file is always to create it once more.

Use programs for recovering ".PWL" files if a file was lost after accidental or deliberate deleting, formatting the memory card or the internal storage, cleaning the storage device, after a virus attack or a system failure.

Programs to recover ".PWL" files

Looking for a way to get files back? In cases when files were deleted and they cannot be restored by using standard operating system tools, use Hetman Partition Recovery.

The tool recovers data from any devices, regardless of the cause of data loss.

Follow the directions below:

  1. Download Hetman Partition Recovery, install and start the program.

  2. The program will automatically scan the computer and display all hard disks and removable drives connected to it, as well as physical and local disks.

    File Recovery Software
  3. Double-click on the disk from which you need to recover ".PWL" files, and select analysis type.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Analysis Type
  4. When the scanning is over, you will be shown the files for recovery.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Files that Can be Restored
  5. To find a file you need, use the program’s interface to open the folder it was deleted from, or go to the folder "Content-Aware Analysis" and select the required file type.

    Hetman Partition Recovery - Deep Scan
  6. Select the files you have been looking for and click "Recovery".

    File Recovery Software - Files List for Recovery
  7. Choose one of the methods for saving the files and recover them.

    Saving recovered files in Hetman Partition Recovery

How to open file with ".PWL" extension?

Looking for how to open a stereo windows Password List image file file?

Programs that open ".PWL" files

ElcomSoft Proactive System Password Recovery ElcomSoft Proactive System Password Recovery

Additional Information

  • File type: Windows Password List

  • File extension: .PWL

  • Developer: Microsoft

  • Category: System Files

  • Format: Binary

  • HEX: E3 82 85 96, B0 4D 46 4E

  • ASCII: г[[z]]…–, MFN


We will be happy to answer your questions!

Comments (1)

  • Hetman Software: Data Recovery
    Hetman Software: Data Recovery 18.12.2019 11:51 #
    Leave a comment if you have any questions about Recovering lost .PWL files after deleting, cleaning or formatting!
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Vladimir Artiukh

Author: Vladimir Artiukh, Technical Writer

Vladimir Artiukh is a technical writer for Hetman Software, as well as the voice and face of their English-speaking YouTube channel, Hetman Software: Data Recovery for Windows. He handles tutorials, how-tos, and detailed reviews on how the company’s tools work with all kinds of data storage devices.

Oleg Afonin

Editor: Oleg Afonin, Technical Writer

Oleg Afonin is an expert in mobile forensics, data recovery and computer systems. He often attends large data security conferences, and writes several blogs for such resources as xaker.ru, Elcomsoft and Habr. In addition to his online activities, Oleg’s articles are also published in professional magazines. Also, Oleg Afonin is the co-author of a well-known book, Mobile Forensics - Advanced Investigative Strategies.


Questions and answers

  • What is a ".PWL backup" file and what is its purpose?

    A ".PWL backup" file refers to a backup copy of a Windows password list file. PWL stands for "Password List" and it is a file used by older versions of the Windows operating system (such as Windows 95, 98, and ME) to store user passwords for various applications and network resources.

    The purpose of a PWL backup file is to provide a backup copy of the password list file, which can be used to restore the passwords in case the original PWL file becomes corrupted or lost. This backup file ensures that users can regain access to their applications and network resources by restoring their passwords from the backup.

    It is important to note that the use of PWL files as a means of storing passwords has been phased out in newer versions of Windows, starting from Windows XP. More secure methods like Credential Manager and Active Directory have replaced the use of PWL files for password storage.

  • How can I create a ".PWL backup" file for my system?

    To create a ".PWL backup" file for your system, you can follow these steps:

    1. Open the Windows Control Panel by searching for it in the Start menu.
    2. In the Control Panel, locate and open the "User Accounts" or "User Accounts and Family Safety" option.
    3. Depending on your Windows version, you may find a different set of options. Look for an option related to managing user credentials or passwords.
    4. In the user credentials/password management section, you should see a list of stored passwords or credentials. Look for an option to export or backup these credentials.
    5. Select the option to export or backup the credentials. It may vary depending on your Windows version or user account settings.
    6. Choose a location on your computer where you want to save the ".PWL backup" file. You can create a new folder or use an existing one.
    7. Provide a name for the backup file, such as "credentials_backup.pwl" or any other suitable name.
    8. Click "Save" or "Export" to create the backup file.
    9. Once the backup process is complete, you should have a ".PWL backup" file containing your system's stored credentials.

    Note: The steps provided above are based on a general Windows system. The specific options and steps might vary depending on your Windows version.

  • Can I restore a ".PWL backup" file to recover lost or corrupted data?

    A ".PWL backup" file typically refers to a backup of Windows password files. These files store passwords for various applications and services on a Windows computer. They are not intended for data backup or recovery purposes.

    If you are looking to recover lost or corrupted data, you would need to explore other options such as:

    1. Check for backups: Look for any recent backups of your data, either on external drives, cloud storage, or network backups.
    2. Use file recovery software: There are various data recovery software available that can help you recover deleted or lost files from your computer or storage devices. Examples include Recuva, EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, or Stellar Data Recovery.
    3. Consult a data recovery professional: If the data is critical and other methods fail, you can consider seeking professional help from a data recovery service. These services specialize in recovering data from damaged or failed storage devices.

    Remember, it is always recommended to regularly back up your important data to avoid such situations.

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