Determine Product Key From Unbootable Hard Drive

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  1. Posts : 678
    Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
       #1

    Determine Product Key From Unbootable Hard Drive


    My brother bought a tower a few years ago from a small computer shop in the area. The shop is no longer in business. My niece has been using the computer without problem since they first set it up for her.

    Now the computer won't boot, giving a 'bad hard drive, replace immediately' type of message. They are all pretty sure that it's a Windows 7 PC, but nobody will swear to it. I can find noting on the outside (or inside) of the case to indicate the operating system or manufacturer. There is no 25 character Windows key sticker to be found.

    I have removed the drive, slaved it to a Windows 7 tower and copied all her music, pictures and favorites to an external drive, but what's next? I have another 500GB SATA drive that I can put in the tower, but to what end? Is there some method to determine the OS and product key from the slaved hard drive? With that information I should be able to install Windows on the new hard drive although, without the manufacturer I'd be in the dark about where to find the necessary drivers.
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  2. Posts : 25,847
    Windows 10 Pro. 64/ version 1709 Windows 7 Pro/64
       #2

    Their should be a sticker on the computer with the COA key and which Microsoft operating system is installed.

    This should help. From Microsoft.

    COA and Hologram

    More pictures.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=wind...iw=960&bih=418
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  3.    #3

    Yes but since its encyypted it takes a special tool to extract from unbootable HD which someone will likely know and post since the title is so descriptive. I'll search for it if not when I get home.

    Have you confirmed the HD is bad using the makers bootable diagnostics or test from Windows while slaved. The tests are in Troubleshooting tutorial link in picture below.

    If HD is good then work through the steps for Troubleshooting Windows 7 Failure to Boot
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  4. Posts : 678
    Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
    Thread Starter
       #4

    I managed to extract a little more information from my sister in law... The tower was apparently constructed by the little out-of-business computer shop with Windows XP on it. The shop purchased Windows 7 Home Premium and installed a legitimate version on the tower prior to selling it to my brother. At one time there was a hand lettered sticker on the tower that gave the product key. That sticker has disappeared.

    Since it was a homemade assembly I should be able to get the drivers from ASUS, who made the motherboard. My only problem now remains determining the 25 character product key that I would guess is still somewhere on the old hard drive (encrypted or not). They don't want to have to purchase a new product key (in addition to a new HDD) for a computer that was originally XP.
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  5. whs
    Posts : 26,210
    Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
       #5

    Since the 'bad' HDD is apparently functioning as a slave on your Windows 7 system, I would image all partitions from that drive with your Windows 7 system. Then you can restore the image on the 500GB HDD that you have available and install that in the system of your niece. It's worth a try.

    If that works, you should immediately run the Belarc Advisor to get a record of the the product keys.
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  6. Posts : 678
    Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
    Thread Starter
       #6

    whs said:
    Since the 'bad' HDD is apparently functioning as a slave on your Windows 7 system, I would image all partitions from that drive with your Windows 7 system. Then you can restore the image on the 500GB HDD that you have available and install that in the system of your niece. It's worth a try.

    If that works, you should immediately run the Belarc Advisor to get a record of the the product keys.
    Sounds great..... however the phrase 'image all partitions from that drive with your Windows 7 system' is Greek to me. What tools do I need to do that? Are there step-by-step instructions? And once that step was done how would I go about restoring that image to the 500GB HDD?

    And I don't completely understand Belarc. I have used that on several perfectly running PCs and the product key that it returns is NOT the product key on the Microsoft COA.
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  7.    #7

    The key on factory installed Win7 is a batch key used to mass activate at factory until the COA key is used

    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: https://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.

    Edit: I see SIW2 has arrived below with the required keyfinder. Work with him to get your key, but I'd have the backup image just in case since I always prefer two key confirmations and in this case it is unlikely.

    Small shop or not, it's not legal to resell Win7 without the COA sticker attached.
    Last edited by gregrocker; 27 Jun 2014 at 22:54.
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  8. Posts : 13,576
    Windows 10 Pro x64
       #8

    If the shop installed Windows 7 on the pc, why didn`t they give you the packaging containing the dvd and the activation key, it`s totally illegal and just wrong to sell a pc with a hand written sticker on the pc case.

    Backup Complete Computer - Create an Image Backup
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  9. Posts : 15,816
    7 X64
       #9

    Run Produkey from your working system. Tick as below, then click OK.

    Determine Product Key From Unbootable Hard Drive-produkey.jpg

    ProduKey - Recover lost product key (CD-Key) of Windows/MS-Office/SQL Server
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  10. Posts : 678
    Windows 7 home premium 64 bit
    Thread Starter
       #10

    AddRAM said:
    If the shop installed Windows 7 on the pc, why didn`t they give you the packaging containing the dvd and the activation key, it`s totally illegal and just wrong to sell a pc with a hand written sticker on the pc case.
    From the first two sentences of my thread: My brother bought a tower a few years ago from a small computer shop in the area. The shop is no longer in business.
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