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Windows 7: Cannot Find Windows 7 Product Key

12 Sep 2012   #1
VMPAS

Windows 7 x64
 
 
Cannot Find Windows 7 Product Key

hello all.

I have a laptop here that cannot restore Windows. My cousin gave me her son's lap top because she said it was running really sluggish. I only got to actually look at it this morning and upon booting it up there was no Windows installation, it booted directly to the recovery console(Dell Inspiron, btw). It looks like the entire system was wiped out somehow and she has no idea as her son hasn't used it in the past month. Now when I say wiped out I mean if I just let it boot on its own it goes right to the recovery console.

I was able to bring up a command prompt via the recovery console and did some digging and it does look like the system is in a "right out of the box" state, if you know what I mean. However for whatever reason I cannot get Windows to reinstall via the recovery console or get anywhere passed it.

What I would like to do is totally wipe the hard drive, save for the recovery partition and reinstall Windows that way but I do not have a product key, nor is there on one the bottom of the system. I know some systems have stickers but this one doesn't unfortunately. I was able to also access the registry and was trying to see if I could somehow find the product key that way, but so far have had no luck.

EDIT: I had just read that the key is somewhere in the registry but it is encrypted? If I were able to extract it is there a tool or method I can use to decrypt it?

Is there any other way to recover the key? I know theres software out there but they either require you to be in the Windows Desktop environment, or they cost money. Is there any other way to get this done?


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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12 Sep 2012   #2
DirtRider

Windows 7 Pro 64 bit
 
 

From what I have read if you don't have it then it's a new purchase of Win7 for you
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2012   #3
Kaktussoft

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bits 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

are you very sure someone did a "factory recovery"? Even after that it doesn't boot to recovery console. Are you talk about win7 recovery environment or does it boot to DELL recovery partition?

Look at C:\program files or D:\program files or E:\program files (check all!)
No programs that were installed are there anymore?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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12 Sep 2012   #4
VMPAS

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Kaktussoft View Post
are you very sure someone did a "factory recovery"? Even after that it doesn't boot to recovery console. Are you talk about win7 recovery environment or does it boot to DELL recovery partition?

Look at C:\program files or D:\program files or E:\program files (check all!)
No programs that were installed are there anymore?
Nope no sign of any programs.

Also it is the Windows 7 Recovery.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2012   #5
Dwarf

Windows 8.1 Pro RTM x64
 
 

Does this help? Windows 7 PC Restore | Dell
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2012   #6
VMPAS

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Dwarf View Post
Followed your link. Went to repair computer and as I thought it would it just brings me back to the recovery screen(Win7) and cannot restore the computer to factory settings.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2012   #7
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 
 

If that model Dell shipped with Win7 then the COA sticker is on it. Check under battery. If not call or chat Dell Support to get ReInstallation disk which has activation baked in.

Then Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7. Everything you need is in this tutorial to get a perfect reinstall if you have the COA Product key or Dell Reinstallation DVD..

During booted install you should delete all partitions at Drive selection screen using Drive Options - Create new or just let the installer do it for you by clicking Next - since Recovery and Diagnostics tools partitions are no longer functional.

You can try tapping the F12 key at boot to see if you can run Dell Diagnostics first and keep it's partition if it runs : Dell Diagnostics - How to Run
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2012   #8
VMPAS

Windows 7 x64
 
 

ok I have an update.

I have managed to get Windows 7 to reinstall however someway, somehow it contracted Alureon without Windows even being an hour installed on the system. In ran MSE and Windows Defender Offline and managed to remove the infection.

New problem. Windows crashes upon boot. I get to the Windows splash scree and it BSOD's. The only technical information is provides is the Stop Code: 0x0000007B which I know from experience with Dells can be an issue with the Sata Operation in the BIOS. I go to the bios and switch from AHCI to ATA. Same thing happens. Switch it back. Happens again. I'm starting to believe that the software on the hard drive may be very much so currupt. I am right now running the Dell Diagnostics to make sure it isn't hardware related someway somehow.

Any other input would greatly be appreciated as I am starting to reach the end of my long list of ideas.


EDIT: Also just for the future if I were to wipe the hard drive totally clean and reinstall Windows using an ISO image and input the product key that came with the laptop would it work?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2012   #9
gregrocker
Microsoft MVP

 
 

Did you delete all partitions as suggested during install?

If not do it over. This time wipe the HD first with Diskpart Clean Command from the installer Command Line accessed by pressing Shift + F10 at first screen when booted.

Reset BIOS to defaults. Set SATA controller to AHCI first. Do you have an EFI Boot Disk in BIOS boot order?

If you need Dell Diagnostics in the future its available on a bootable download from Dell site.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Sep 2012   #10
VMPAS

Windows 7 x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
Did you delete all partitions as suggested during install?

If not do it over. This time wipe the HD first with Diskpart Clean Command from the installer Command Line accessed by pressing Shift + F10 at first screen when booted.

Reset BIOS to defaults. Set SATA controller to AHCI first. Do you have an EFI Boot Disk in BIOS boot order?

If you need Dell Diagnostics in the future its available on a bootable download from Dell site.

I did. I also reset the bios to defaults.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Cannot Find Windows 7 Product Key




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