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Bad Product Key after Repair Install

I recently tried using a retail XP Home Edition disk to run a repair install on a machine originally loaded with an OEM version of XP. I tried two sets of product keys -- the ones I got using magic jellybean and the ones off of the sticker on the back of the machine. Both were rejected during activation.

I have some files on the disk that I would like to recover. Do I have any options before I use the recovery disks that I made when the machine was new (which will wipe the disk clean and reinstall all of the factory software).

Thanks for the help.

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Just for future reference

Just for future reference, OEM keys are different from retail keys, and volume license keys like you get from computers preloaded with Windows, are different still. They are NOT interchangeable.

That said, you should consider a Linux LiveCD type distribution, only maybe install it on a USB flash drive if your computer can boot off of USB. You can use that to get at least read-only access to the files on your HDD and back them up.

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Where do I get Linux LiveCD

I believe the system can boot off of USB (although I have never tried). Once I get this set up, will I be able to copy files from the HDD to another flash drive?

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I wasn't able to boot off of a USB flash drive, but I did create a CD from a download here:

The CD allowed me to get access to the HDD, and the web site told me how to connect to a working computer on my LAN. I have now backed up all of my important files and can go about repairing the broken system. Unless there is a better path, I'll probably use the recovery disks I made up when the system was new and re-install all of the important applications I had acquired over the years.

Thanks for all the help!

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