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Retrieve Windows 7 licence key from corrupted hard drive

Posted on 2011-02-11
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hi, I have a Dell Inspiron 1545 with a damaged hard drive which I am replacing.  The owner cannot find a system disk, the recovery partition shows as 0 bytes but I can access the system folders using a USB bridge.  On top of that, the laptop does not have a windows sticker attached.
I have tried Magicjellybean and Spotmau but these only retrieve from the current system or from a running network device.

Does anyone know if there is a way of extracting the key?  
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Question by:digibyte86
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11 Comments
 
LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:RobMobility
ID: 34870639
Hi,

If there is no Windows Sticker on the laptop and it's not available, then surely questions have to be raised as to whether it is properly licenced?

Why don't you buy a  Dell  Inspiron 1545 laptop chassis (i.e. plastics) c/w Windows sticker from eBay together with the Windows recovery DVD?

Regards,


Rob.
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LVL 25

Expert Comment

by:RobMobility
ID: 34870645
Hi,

Alternatively, buy a new Windows installation and then put it down to experience - at least you'll have a COA and be properly licenced?

Regards,


RobMobility.
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Expert Comment

by:RobMobility
ID: 34870661
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:schwabdale
ID: 34870901
You could download a Live CD (Linux). I think they have product key finders on there. Just boot off the cd and run the tool against the hard drive.
http://www.ubcd4win.com/faq.htm

Around the bottom of the page it says keyfinder.
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:schwabdale
ID: 34870905
Sorry, top of the page
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Expert Comment

by:schwabdale
ID: 34870921
Here's a list of the tools that come with the download
http://www.ubcd4win.com/contents.htm
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LVL 33

Accepted Solution

by:
PowerEdgeTech earned 125 total points
ID: 34872950
If this is the installation from the factory, then even if you are able to extract the key from that installation, it will not be the same as the key that should be on the computer.  At the factory, the PC's are built using a generic auto/self-activating key belonging to Dell.  The customer's actual license is the COA.  Check under the battery in the battery compartment for the actual Product Key/COA.
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LVL 6

Assisted Solution

by:crash2000
crash2000 earned 125 total points
ID: 34878714
Have you tried taking the battery out?
Dell often put the sticker under there.

Mark
http://www.aylesburylaptoprepairs.co.uk
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Author Closing Comment

by:digibyte86
ID: 34902097
Two correct answers  and I have learnt something about Dell laptops and stickers hidden away on batteries.  I was able to successfully complete and activate the re-installation.  Thank you for your help!
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:crash2000
ID: 34904391
Glad to help.
It took me a while to learn that one too.

Mark
http://www.aylesburylaptoprepairs.co.uk
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LVL 33

Expert Comment

by:PowerEdgeTech
ID: 34908369
"Dell laptops and stickers hidden away on batteries"

It is a common problem on laptops for the sticker to wear off and become unreadable ... I guess this was Dell's answer :)
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