How to Retrieve a Forgotten or Lost Password in WordPress

Can’t log back into your WordPress site?

Not being able to access your admin area because you can’t remember your password or username can be really frustrating.

Fortunately, with WordPress, there is always a way to get back into your website or blog.

In this WordPress troubleshooting step-by-step tutorial for non-technical users, you will learn the process of recovering a lost or forgotten password or username and getting access to your website. I’ll go as far as I can without getting into complicated technical areas, and then, if this still doesn’t help you get back in, I’ll explain to you what your other options for retrieving your login details are.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Wrong Username/Password

Normally, if you get your password or username wrong when trying to access your WordPress dashboard, an error message like the one below will appear on your browser …

WordPress Password Recovery

Here’s a clue: If you get the username right but the password wrong, WordPress will actually tell you this …

How To Retrieve Your Password

Tip

For security purposes, never set up WordPress sites with the username admin.

This is the default installation username for WordPress and one of the leading causes of brute force attacks on WordPress sites.

WordPress Password Recovery

If you want to learn how to change your username, see this tutorial: How To Change Your Admin Username

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If you have forgotten or lost your password, but you know your username or email address, then click on the “Lost your password?” link in the error message …

What To Do If You Have Forgotten WordPress Passwords

You can also access the lost password feature by clicking on the link below the login box …

WordPress Password Recovery

Alternatively, just type the URL below into your browser (where “domain” is your domain and “tld” is your domain extension, eg. “com”, “net”, “info”, etc.) …

What To Do If You Have Forgotten WordPress Passwords

Type in your username or email and click “Get New Password” …

WordPress Password Recovery

Info

At this stage, there is no password “recovery” option, only password “reset”.

You will receive a system notification via email with a password reset link. Click on the link to reset your password.

WordPress Password Retrieval

Enter a new password into the “Password reset” field. Make sure to choose a strong password containing upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols, like “$, ^, %, #, @” etc …

WordPress Password Recovery

Useful Tip

Use a password generator tool if you need help generating strong passwords.

You can use a free password generator tool like PasswordsGenerator.net (shown below) …

Free Online Password Generator

Or password management software like LastPass, which not only lets you generate secure passwords, but also store and manage all of your passwords …

LastPass

Use A Password Generator Tool To Help You Create Secure Passwords

After your password has been reset, log in using your new password …

What To Do If You Have Lost Your Login Password

Changing Your Password Inside The WordPress Admin Area

To change your password inside your administration, log into your site and select Edit My Profile from the “Howdy, User” dropdown menu at the top-right hand corner of your Dashboard …

Recovering The Login Password

You can also access your “Profile” area by selecting Users > Your Profile from your main admin menu.

Towards the bottom part of the screen, you will see the “change password” fields. Enter a new password and confirm this password here.

Note: Use the built-in WordPress password strength meter to help you avoid using weak passwords and come up with a strong password.

WordPress Password Retrieval

Click Update Profile when finished to update your password settings.

What To Do If You Have Lost Passwords

New WordPress Feature

Better Passwords

WordPress version 4.3 improves the way that passwords are chosen and changed …

Improved Password Security

(WordPress v. 4.3 – Better Password Security)

When you add new users to your site or edit a user profile, WordPress will automatically generate a secure password.

A password strength meter is included as well as the option to hide your password. You will find the new password interface on the password reset screen and the WordPress install screen …

WordPress version 4.3 - Improved Passwords

(Better Password Security)

If you decide to set up a password that WordPress considers to be weak, you will be asked to confirm the use of this password …

WordPress version 4.3 - Better Password Security

(Better Passwords)

From v. 4.3 onwards, WordPress will no longer send passwords via email and the password reset links will expire in 24 hours. E-mail notifications will be sent out, however, when e-mails or passwords are changed.

What To Do If You Can’t Remember Your Username And Password

The above steps work if you’ve lost your password but you still know your username or email address.

How can you log in if you can’t remember both your username and password?

You can still access your WordPress site, but this is where things start to get a little technical.

Info

As this tutorial is mostly aimed for non-technical WordPress users, I suggest that if the information above hasn’t helped you get back into your WordPress site, then either contact someone who can provide you with technical assistance (i.e. your webmaster, web management person or your webhost) and let them know that you need to reset your WordPress Password from phpMyAdmin, or you can try the method below, which will simply reveal your username and email address, so you can at least get your password reset and log back in.

All you need is admin access to your server. Don’t worry, you won’t be changing anything inside your server … you’re only taking a look!

Warning

If you don’t feel confident about working inside your web server or database, then please ask an experienced WordPress user to assist you.

In this example, the server is using the cPanel management software …

WordPress Password Recovery

cPanel

Log into your server control panel …

What To Do If You Lose Login Passwords In WordPress

cPanel admin area

Find the “Databases” section and open up phpMyAdmin

WordPress Password Recovery

phpMyAdmin

Click on your WordPress database.

Note: If you have multiple databases set up on your domain, make sure that you choose the right one …

Retrieving Your Password In WordPress

phpMyAdmin databases

Don’t worry about the complicated-looking information on your screen screen.

Click on wp_users in the “Table” column on the left-hand side …

Retrieving Your Login Password

phpMyAdmin databases

You will see a list of all your site’s users with their usernames and email addresses. Typically, the first line is assigned to the site administrator, but if you have more users and need to locate their username or email, then scroll down the list until you find the details you are looking for …

What To Do If You Lose Passwords In WordPress

Info

Note: The user password is also included in this section of your WP database (in the “user_pass” column”), but as you can see from the screenshot above, it is encrypted.

For the purpose of security, WordPress stores all passwords as a cryptographic hash function (MD5 Hash) rather than plain text. This prevents even the site administrator from knowing a user’s password.

To replace this password requires using an encryption tool that lets you generate an MD5 hash, which you would then copy and paste into the password field. You can search for “free MD5 generators online” if you want to change the password yourself, but as suggested earlier, ask for help from a professional if you really don’t know what you are doing, as you could end up causing errors.

Once you have retrieved your username and email address, log out of your server, go back to your login screen and request a new password …

Retrieving Your Password

Hopefully, you have found this tutorial useful and can now resume working.

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