General discussion

Product Key Retrieval

Jun 7, 2004 12:51AM PDT

I hava a system that has had the product key sticker stolen off the box by a former employee.

It wasn't noticed by the owner until now. It has a non booting hard drive. No safe mode either. However I can see the contents of the drive when plugging into my system as a extra drive.

If there a way to get the key from the registry of that drive.

Programs like keyfinder, only look at the current loaded OS and don't let you specify a different registry to look through.


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Re:Product Key Retrieval
Jun 7, 2004 1:48AM PDT

In this context, I'd save the data on a separate drive.

After that, I'd try the procedure that?s' described in the following MSKB article:

Q307545 - "How to Recover from a Corrupted Registry that Prevents Windows XP from Starting"

If after Part One you're able to boot, then use that utility to extract the key. Later, it's up to you to try the subsequent steps or install fresh windows XP.

Probable only the original XP author of that part might know how to find the key. The third party utility can read it using undocumented wmi calls in a working Windows XP.

Good Luck,


Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,

T. S. Eliot

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One more thing ?
Jun 7, 2004 2:12AM PDT

If you decide to try the Part One, instead of booting from Recovery Console, just do the move/delete/copy those files using windows Explorer from your PC. Just attach the second hard drive as you did and perform the operations in the windows folder of the corrupted hard drive.

Good Luck,


Trying to unweave, unwind, unravel
And piece together the past and the future,

T. S. Eliot

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Thanks Cetin
Jun 7, 2004 6:13AM PDT

I finaaly got one of the clone jobs I did to boot into safe mode. Got the key and then re-installed XP over itself.
All is working now. Don't know if it will stay that way.
I printed out the instructions you linked to, as that method will be much faster next time I need to do this.

Have has several in the past few months, although on those I had the product key, I just re-installed windows over itself.

Again, thanks.

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You are welcome, Merl ... [nt]
Jun 8, 2004 2:12AM PDT


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Merl, a suggestion if I may?
Jun 8, 2004 11:43PM PDT

This has saved my backside numerous times.

Make a simple WordPad document with ALL your product keys, serial numbers, etc. and save it to My Documents. Then print out a hard copy and keep it handy. You can also copy the file to a floppy, CD, etc., so you have a backup. Just repeat the last two steps when you add data to the file...

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Re:Product Key Retrieval
Jun 8, 2004 11:57PM PDT

Hi Merl,
Every time I install a program with an activation key, or a licence key, I run Belarc Advisor. This lists all software, updates etc;, on the machine, with their licences. The results can be saved or printed out. Very useful, but keep the result hidden!

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Re:Product Key Retrieval
Jun 9, 2004 7:01AM PDT

This isn't my machine, I have ALL of my keys.

I was just fixing their disaster.

But keeping all the keys printed in one place is a good idea.
Most of us can find the disks, but the keys, oh the keys, where are they? Happy

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NT - Written with a magic marker on the disc.
Jun 9, 2004 8:30AM PDT


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Re: Product Key Retrieval
Jun 25, 2004 7:55PM PDT

Try downloading belarc advisor, that should help

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Do you ''think so''
Jun 26, 2004 4:00AM PDT
It has a non booting hard drive.

Old thread goupe as well.

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