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How to open / unlock unreadable 7z rar zip files

How to open / unlock unreadable 7z rar zip files
Enter password to open encrypted archives






PeaZip, like any archive management utility, needs the user to provide the correct password to work on encypted archives extraction, in order to access and extract encrypted files, and in some cases even to list the content of the archive - i.e. if sender used "encrypt filenames" option (7Z archives) making archive table of content unreadable without providing correct password.
Read more about how to open 7z rar tar zip archive files, as well as using PeaZip to open unsupported files extensions.

Recover lost / forgotten password

The person who created (and encoded) the archive is the only one to know the decryption password, and the only one that should be contacted to retrieve the password in case it has been lost or forgotten by the recipient - or to provide a non-encrypted "unlocked" version of the file, if password cannot be recovered.
Current revisions of mainstream archive formats like (7Z, ARC, PEA, RAR, and ZIP) uses strong file encryption, and it is unlikely to remove password-protection by trial (or with brute force password removal utilities) if the password is not known or it was forgotten.
Dictionary based password remover tools may be more efficient than brute-force routines in retrieving access to the locked files, but strong passwords usually defeats the purpose of similar programs - randomly generated passwords, or long passphrases using mixed case, numbers and symbols replacements (as in Diceware rules), cannot usually get guessed & removed by such password recovery tools.
Unlocking an unreadable archive by attempting password recovery is generally not a recommended solution, to find an unknown password being a time-consuming process, and not being guaranteed the result of retrieving access to the locked archive.

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Official PeaZip packages and website NEVER asks users a password to be downloaded / installed: if that happens please don't trust that package and use only official packages published on PeaZip official domain or on reputable software distributors.

An archive can be unreadable for various reasons, in any case PeaZip lets the user in full control about deciding if trying to decrypt it:
  • The archive header is encrypted and it's not possible to read it before providing the right password to unlock it. 7Z, ARC, PEA, and RAR file formats supports header / TOC encryption, also known as encryption of file names. Notably, ZIP files does not support that feature, so unreadable ZIP archives (which cannot be extracted or opened for browsing archive content) are generally too corrupted to be read, or may have file extension changed (being a 7z or rar disguised as zip file, or even an exe file disguised as an archive), which is a strong hint of possible forgery - in those cases the files should not be trusted for opening and, especially, should not be trusted for extraction. In PeaZip's file/archive browser you can enter the password clicking the proper context menu entry or clicking on the padlcok icon in the status bar or pressing F9
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  • The archive may be corrupted (it can happen quite frequently, i.e. when there is an error during a download of a file, or due to a failure on the memory support), or be a fake file (i.e. a non-archive file or random data renamed with archive type extension), or in worst case it may have been purposely altered. In those cases the files cannot (and in worst cases, should not) be "unlocked": you will need to retrieve an intact copy of the file: re-download it from a trusted source or restore it from a reliable backup copy.

Hint: if you have to work on different archives with the same password you will not need to re-enter it since it will be kept until you change it or close PeaZip. If you open different instances of PeaZip each will start with no password and can keep a different password.

Why does PeaZip prompts a password request?

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In some cases PeaZip may not be able to browse archive's content because the file is corrupted (either for accidental corruption or malicious manipulation): PeaZip will always let the user in control of chosing if entering a password for trying to decrypt the archive any time an unreadable archive is encountered - even if the file extension is not usually associated with archives supporting encryption, as it can be easily changed to trick unexperienced users.

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What to do with an unreadable file

If you suspect an archive file is corrupted you can do following things:
  • when downloading a file from the web or while saving a mail attachment, check if the download is reported to have been completed correctly (please note some download managers and some mail client make the file available for users before the actual download is completed!)
  • check if the size of the archive is the one expected
  • check if the checksum/hash of the file is the one expected - some sources reports checksum / hash of files for allowing users to perform this integrity check
  • open the file with an hexadecimal editor to see if its content seems normal or if it is higly uniform filled with zeroes (to reduce fragmentation some downloaders pre-allocates the full size of the downloaded file, then replaces the content with the actual file), and to verify if the archive header is correct for the file type declared in the extension (sometimes an attacker may disguise a file type for another changing file extension).
  • try to download it again or try to find another, more reliable source (or mirror) of the same file, see if other online users had encountered problems with the same archive
  • in PeaZip, you can try a decryption password, and you can try listing archive's content in flat mode clicking on the expand "plus" icon (or pressing F6)

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  • finally, try to open it with a different extraction utility that may be more error tolerant: please note that this may not be a good solution, as relying on less stringent error checks on the archive may result in unexpected and undetected errors in the extracted files.

Why does some non-corrupted files are unreadable even if files with same extension are readable?

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Please note that some file extensions, e.g. PAK files, can be used for various, unrelated archive formats. PeaZip supports some of the file types using that extension, but might as well not support unrelated archive formats using the same extension, so it will not be able to open those files.

Other extensions, e.g. EXE, and DMG, covers very borad standards - evolving for decades - employing a variety of packing and compression technologies, some of them (usually legacy or very cutting edge cases) not supported by PeaZip, which will be consequently unable to open as archives some files of those formats.

Read more about unreadable files and password protection: checksumvalidate data integrity and hashfind hash value functions, encryptionopen encrypted files articles on Wikipedia, Dicewareopen encrypted files password generation tips.

Learn how to create encrypted 7Z files with hidden filenames, feature which is also available when creating encrypted RAR files (if WinRar is available on the same system). Creating encrypted ZPAQ files filenames are always encrypted (hidden), as well as when creating encrypted PEA archives.

Synopsis: How to open unreadable or encrypted 7z rar zip archives. Remove password prompt. Unlock forgotten or lost passwords. Recover locked data with forgotten password. Read corrupted files. Open password protected encrypted files. What are nd how to detect unreadable files due forgery or data corruption.

Topics: open encrypted files, unlock password protected archives, recover lost password, open unreadable files

PeaZip > FAQ > How to open / unlock unreadable 7z rar zip files

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