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Windows 7: Determine Product Key From Unbootable Hard Drive

27 Jun 2014   #11
AddRAM

Windows 7 Pro x64 Windows 10 Pro x64
 
 

I read that, it was a rhetorical question.

Actually more of a statement then a question

As far as the manufacturer it should be written on the motherboard, (the make and model) the #1 driver to worry about is the network (ethernet) drivers. Just install windows, then worry about the drivers, Windows may just take care of a lot of them for you.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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27 Jun 2014   #12
boweasel

Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
The key on factory installed Win7 is a batch key used to mass activate at factory until the COA key is used
Thanks, but I don't know what that statement means in regard to a product key displayed using Belarc. If I have to reinstall Windows 7 on a custom built PC I'll need a product key. I've already stated that the keys I've gotten by running Belarc on functioning computers do not always match the product key on the PC's COA sticker.

While I was waiting for some responses I initiated a chkdsk /r /f on the failing hard drive that is now slaved to another Windows 7 tower. It has now been running for close to 20 hours. I'll download your suggested Macrium product when it finishes. I'll post back a Disk Management screen grab for the ailing drive as well. And thanks again.
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
Kari's idea is best but I'm not confident the barebones Win7 imaging can handle it. So I'd use Macrium Reflect freeware explained here: http://www.sevenforums.com/software/...e-macrium.html.

You can install it to image only the attached failing HD now while it lives. Then replace it with new HD - or better yet an SSD which is the best upgrade you can do for lightning speed - and apply the image. Be sure to include Active flag, MBR and Track 0 from the old drive if prompted.

I'd still want to know exact condition of HD. Install Crystal Disk Info app to read SMART data for a quick check. CrystalDiskInfo - Software - Crystal Dew World

If you'll post back a screenshot of Disk Management - Post a Screen Capture Image we can advise you better.
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27 Jun 2014   #13
boweasel

Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by AddRAM View Post
I read that, it was a rhetorical question.

Actually more of a statement then a question
And I did not know it was illegal. I have known computer shops to purchase operating systems and product keys online. They'll get a link to download the OS followed by an email containing the product key. Without an official Microsoft sticker they'd have little recourse beyond printing out the key and taping it to the case.
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27 Jun 2014   #14
AddRAM

Windows 7 Pro x64 Windows 10 Pro x64
 
 

Right, so that means if the case does not have a COA on it, with a readable key, which you state it doesn`t, then you will have to buy Windows.

$99 for Home Premium.

http://www.newegg.com/Operating-Syst...ategory/ID-368
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27 Jun 2014   #15
gregrocker

 

I was trying to explain why the Product Keys do not match sometimes. Activation at factory uses a batch key which is not the same. The COA is to reinstall and activate in MS computers which is different. Until then you are activated by a factory batch key.

The Disk check is not encouraging but what really tells the story is the diagnostics which tests the physical condition of the hard drive and not just the file system thereon. That's why I suggested you run that instead of Disk Check.

A legit shop would paste the COA sticker on the box as required by law before reselling you Win7. But sometimes they don't for various reasons including possibly using a cracked activation or perhaps a retail key they had extra. So it is worth using the finder SIW2 linked to see where it goes. At worst you'd have to buy it again.

But if you successfully image it to the new HD, or repair the old one, it may not need reactivating and you can continue with what you have. We can then tell you if its genuine if you care to know.
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27 Jun 2014   #16
boweasel

Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by SIW2 View Post
Run Produkey from your working system. Tick as below, then click OK.

ProduKey - Recover lost product key (CD-Key) of Windows/MS-Office/SQL Server
Thanks. I'm unfamiliar with this product. I'll give it a try and report back.
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27 Jun 2014   #17
boweasel

Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by AddRAM View Post
Right, so that means if the case does not have a COA on it, which you state it doesn`t, then you will have to buy Windows.

$99 for Home Premium.

Operating Systems, Microsoft Windows OS - Newegg.com
I'm going to try two of the suggestions I've received here - first the ProduKey, followed reimaging of the old drive and restoring the image to the new drive suggestion. I'd never get my brother to pony up the 99 bucks.
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28 Jun 2014   #18
boweasel

Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
I was trying to explain why the Product Keys do not match sometimes. Activation at factory uses a batch key which is not the same. The COA is to reinstall and activate in MS computers which is different. Until then you are activated by a factory batch key.
Oh, now I see. Up until the point that you reinstall, the PC is not using the product key on the COA sticker. But isn't this a catch-22 situation? If your COA wears off the bottom of your laptop and you use Belarc prior to a reinstall, you won't get the proper key. You have to actually do a reinstall for Belarc to spit out the proper key, but you can't reinstall without it. Or am I missing something?
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
The Disk check is not encouraging but what really tells the story is the diagnostics which tests the physical condition of the hard drive and not just the file system thereon. That's why I suggested you run that instead of Disk Check.
I'd already started the disk check before you posted your suggestion
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
A legit shop would paste the COA sticker on the box as required by law before reselling you Win7. But sometimes they don't for various reasons including possibly using a cracked activation or perhaps a retail key they had extra. So it is worth using the finder SIW2 linked to see where it goes. At worst you'd have to buy it again.
I have a defunct Windows 7 HP tower with a bad motherboard and a completely readable product key. If all else fails, can I use that? And if so, how does Microsoft know that a product key is from a non-working PC?
Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
But if you successfully image it to the new HD, or repair the old one, it may not need reactivating and you can continue with what you have. We can then tell you if its genuine if you care to know.
One step at a time...
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28 Jun 2014   #19
gregrocker

 

No you've got it. But I doubt you have OEM because they come with peel and stick stickers which no legit outfit would not affix.

Once you image your old OS over you can see this right away at Computer>Properties by looking if there's an "OEM" in the Product ID string (not the same as Product Key). That means it's Factory OEM which a small shop wouldn't use or Retail OEM which a builder uses so it might be that.

You cannot move OEM to another motherboard.

The image is your best option if HD is shot and if it will complete on a failing drive, because then you can reimage to new SSD or HD and should hold activation, which will then be preserved permanently by the image.
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28 Jun 2014   #20
boweasel

Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
No you've got it. But I doubt you have OEM because they come with peel and stick stickers which no legit outfit would not affix.

Once you image your old OS over you can see this right away at Computer>Properties by looking if there's an "OEM" in the Product ID string (not the same as Product Key). That means it's Factory OEM which a small shop wouldn't use or Retail OEM which a builder uses so it might be that.

You cannot move OEM to another motherboard.

The image is your best option if HD is shot and if it will complete on a failing drive, because then you can reimage to new SSD or HD and should hold activation, which will then be preserved permanently by the image.
I find product keys to be incredibly maddening - one purchases the key when one purchases an OEM PC. But if it fades, or rubs off, or the dog's claws render it unreadable, you're SOL since Magic Jelly Bean or Belarc won't return a reinstallation key. And if your OEM Windows 7 PC goes to computer heaven you can't use it's key to install W7 on, say a Vista machine. And nobody seems to find Microsoft's behavior in this area to be anything but aboveboard. I find it reprehensible, but I gather this is a moot point, since my brother's PC is not OEM, so ProduKey should return a viable key.

I am dubious about imaging the old drive. Chkdsk is not yet on stage 5. When I ran this before, while the HDD was still in the original machine, I had to use a W7 disk to get to the command prompt. It replaced a lot of bad clusters, before it told me it'd run out of space to replace the clusters. So far, as a slave drive I have not gotten the out-of-space msg.
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 Determine Product Key From Unbootable Hard Drive




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