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Product ID Key Question

Posted on 2014-02-21
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Last Modified: 2014-02-22
I have a laptop with a dead hard drive. It will not boot & it has a formatted HD installed. The product ID key on the bottom is so faded I can not even see what the operating system is but I can see the product ID key. Is there any way I can reference this key to see which OS it belongs to? Thanks
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Question by:wantabe2
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CompProbSolv earned 500 total points
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If the hard drive is still readable (even if it won't boot), you can use KeyFinder from magicaljellybean.com to read the XP key from it.

You would install the drive as the second drive in another computer, run KeyFinder, then access the other drive through Tools, Load Hive.

If the drive is not at all readable, this won't work.

What brand of laptop is it?  At least with Dell, the XP installation disks don't ask for the Key as they read something from the motherboard.
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by:John Hurst
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The Product Key on the bottom is most likely just the Certificate of Authenticity. On most laptops (100% of the Lenovo computers I have serviced). this key will not serve to load the OEM operating system (I have tried).

You need the Recovery Disks from the vendor. Call them and ask them to ship them to you. There will likely be a small charge but it will work.

Otherwise you have to purchase a new OEM license.
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by:CompProbSolv
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I misread the OP and missed the fact that you just need the OS version.  KeyFinder will give you that, too.

Have you checked the specs on the computer to see what choices there were originally for OS?
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by:Darr247
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What brand/model is the laptop?
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
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First let's be sure what you want is the ProductID.  In this is a combination of letters and numbers in the format nnnnn-XXX-yyyyyyy-ZZZZZ - this generally does not appear on a Certificate of Authenticity Sticker on the case of a PC/Laptop but tells you which version of the operating system is installed.

It is NOT the same as a Product Activation Key which is in the form of:
xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx (five groups of five upper case letters and numbers).
The Keys that appear on these stickers don't always work for activation but that's not a hard and fast rule and they are more likely to work on newer versions of Windows (but they are linked to the ProductID so will only work if the ProductID and activation Key match)

In the Windows registry the ProductID is at
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ProductID

You can use any of the Keyfinders that can load a registry from a remote drive that won't boot (ProduKey, MagicalJellyBean, SIW etc) provided the drive can be read while connected to another machine.  If the drive is completely dead these won't work.  See the options in each utility for loading a remote registry hive (and remember to unload the hive before quitting!).  THe Activation Key is also stored in that location (under the value "DigitalProductID" - the value in the registry is encrypted usinga simple transposition cypher and all of the Keyfinder packages can decode these.


There may be a simpler solution though which is to go to the manufacturer's support website entering the serial number or Service Tag on their support pages this should allow you to see the equipment specification at manufacture including the OS purchased.

The reinstallation fix however is the same as everyone has already said - get reinstallation media for the machine by contacting the manufacturer.  Although XP reinstallation media is generally no longer supplied you may be able to obtain copies from a local PC store or online auction site.

You can also get a lot of info about which version is installed from the shape and color of the sticker - Google "oem coa sticker"  Images to compare.
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by:nobus
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wantabe, may i ask why you want to know the OS type?
for xp -  you normally have only 1 partition; while from vista on you have 2 in most cases - a 100 or 200 MB one + the rest
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
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If this is your laptop then you should know what operating system it had on it. You just may not know which version of the operating system was on the computer. The only supported way with most major manufacturers is to purchase the recovery media as they being the OEM is the one to call for support.

Most manufacturers have a mehod of you looking up the mfr's part # and or product tag i.e. http://www.dell.com/support/my-support/us/en/19/Products/
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