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Windows 7: How to recover Win7 Pro upgrade from Win7 Home Premium post HDD crash

12 Oct 2014   #1

Windows 7 64-bit, Professional
How to recover Win7 Pro upgrade from Win7 Home Premium post HDD crash

Greetings -

This is my first time here and am very thankful for this great collection of forums and this community.

I am trying to recover from a VAIO laptop HDD crash to Win7 Professional upgrade. I had finished working, shutdown Win7 Pro. cleanly. Drove home, attempted to launch Windows and could not, not in Safe Mode either. I restarted with F12 to launch Recovery Mode and it would only get to about 80% and reboot with a drive error (0xE.....9 - I've forgotten the exact code and can put this old drive in and get it if required).

I've done the following:
  1. Bought laptop with Win7 Home Premium
  2. Purchased and install Win7 Professional
  3. Installed VS2010
  4. Did a whole lot of work for ~2 years
  5. Original drive crashed
  6. Replace old 640GB HDD with 500GB HDD
  7. Downloded and installed Win7 Home Premium using original key
  8. Started catching (again) with a few hundred Win7 updates

My question to the community and/or any experts is - how do I install the upgrade to Win7 Professional without having to pay Microsoft again?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated and thank you in advance.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Oct 2014   #2
Microsoft MVP


Do you have an Anytime Upgrade key for Professional?

If so do a Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 of Home Premium, then after it is setup and running fine, insert the Professional product Key into Windows Anytime Upgrade - How to

If instead you have a retail Upgrade copy of Professional then you can boot it's installer to Clean Install it on its own. The installer will see an OS on the hard drive to allow use of Upgrade version key, after which you should delete all partitions to get it cleanest using the Drive Options in Steps 7-8 of Clean Install Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Oct 2014   #3

Windows 7 64-bit, Professional

Hi gregrocker - I purchased the upgrade through Anytime, as I recall two years ago. I do not recall receiving a key for this, but if I did, it might likely have been saved on the crashed drive. A couple of questions, then:
1) what would happen if I "upgrade" again through the Anytime process, would (wouldn't) MS know my computer, my product key, have an upgrade and let me download/install Win7 Pro?
2) is there an "easy" MS support path to request the key?
after providing them with details? Although I have no idea what email I used back then...
My System SpecsSystem Spec

13 Oct 2014   #4
Microsoft MVP


If you bought the key online there's a possibility the key can be retrieved using your email address and/or receipt. Keys are valuable property which should be safeguarded like any other $100 piece of property.

Do you actually need any of the few expensive features in Pro, because otherwise it is the same exact OS as Home Premium? Compare Windows 7 Editions

I'd focus on getting the best possible Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7.

It shows how to find your Product Key in Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Oct 2014   #5

Windows 7 64-bit, Professional

Gregrocker -

Firstly, I can't tell you how much software I've purchased in the course of 30 years of development (started with embedded machine code aka assembly code) and don't know how much in the past two years since I upgraded. Yes, there is a chance the key is in one of 10's of thousand of emails I have, or even on that HDD that failed, as I believe I indicated. So I don't need a lecture on "how valuable" keys are ... It's value is relative. Although one could argue with my experience I would know better, but the fact of the matter is that MS methods of versioning and features is absurd, if what you say is true "because otherwise it is the exact same OS".

As a matter of fact, it was the best migration/upgrade path from VB6 --> .NET --> VS2005 --> VS2010, as Profession is an accepted upgrade path.

That all said, I'll scour my email accounts and bank records for such payment, although my time is far more valuable than paying the upgrade, again. It is the point of the matter and MS has taken enough of my money over the years, which is why I've stopped developing for MS platforms. I need it, now anyway, to use VMWare to develop Linux ...... argh, I'm off-topic and apologize.

Thanks for the suggestions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Oct 2014   #6

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

How failed is the drive, would you be able to access files off of it via an HDD->USB dock or somehing?
Seeing if you can access OLDHDD\Windows\system32\config\SOFTWARE
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Oct 2014   #7

Windows 7 ultimate 64-bit

Have you tried using a data recovery program to see if it would work to recover the data you need? If not; that might be worth a shot as sometimes even on a failed drive; not "all" the sections of data are always bad and sometimes data can still be recovered.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Oct 2014   #8

Windows 7 64-bit, Professional

greetings -

kalebaustin wrote: "Seeing if you can access OLDHDD\Windows\system32\config\SOFTWARE"

Yes, I managed to connect the drive via a "cloning kit" for SSD/HDD disk drive by Corsair (10 bucks). I can see the SOFTWARE file which has a lock on it. It is about ~112MB in size, but ust be a binary or something because Notepad couldn't open it (stopped responding - now that I think about it, Notepad is so old it probably sees this file as a massively big file). Worded did open it and I do see keys in it .... but wouldn't know which one. What do you recommend to parse this SOFTWARE file to mine the key of interest (for Windows 7 Professional)?

matts6887 wrote - When I tried the cloning software, it stopped at about 22MB or so .... it must have hit the bad sectors. Of course my luck has it that the bad sectors cross both the "normal Windows partition" AND the "recovery partition"!

thanks -
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Oct 2014   #9

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

copy the SOFTWARE file (no extension) to desktop

NirSoft ProduKey
ProduKey - Recover lost product key (CD-Key) of Windows/MS-Office/SQL Server

Download the zip, extract it to temp location, desktop maybe. Right click the exe and run as admin. Once application opens, go to File->Select Source(F9) and check "Load the Product Keys from external Software Registry Hive, and browse to where you put the old SOFTWARE hive.

Produkey will search the hive for keys(Windows, Office) and show you the key. Find the one listed as Windows 7 Professional and copy it to text document.

There should be your working key from previous installation. Then opening Windows Anytime Upgrade in your start menu and entering that key should allow the OS to upgrade itself to Windows 7 Pro, or whatever the key is active for.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Oct 2014   #10

Windows 7 64-bit, Professional
Recovery -

kalebaustin - you rock!

Thank you very much. This process worked very well for me. When I read your response and saw "hive" it occurred to me the files you steered me to are the database files if you will for the registry. I was able recover the appropriate key and activate my Win7 Professional. I had been wondering how I was going to active apps. such as Visio, Office, and MSProject. Now I know.

Much thanks to this forum and community. I greatly appreciate it. I'll mark this a fixed, resolved, and closed.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to recover Win7 Pro upgrade from Win7 Home Premium post HDD crash

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