To re-install Windows on a computer, you need its product key. If by any chance you have lost your genuine Windows product key, here are some ways to recover it from your computer or obtain a new replacement key directly from Microsoft.
Running an Activated Windows
If you are running an activated copy of Windows on your computer, then the easiest way to find the lost product key is to download a key finder program. Here are some free tools:
- Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder: http://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder.shtml
- Nirsoft ProduKey: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/product_cd_key_viewer.html
Along with Windows, these tools can also find lost CD keys from Microsoft Office and other programs. Run one of these tools and have it automatically search your computer for the Windows product key.
Bought Windows Online
If you bought Windows online, the product key should have been mailed to you. Check your email.
Or if you bought Windows from the Microsoft Store, you can simply sign in to your account to view your key: http://www.microsoftstore.com
Locate Product Key
If Windows came preinstalled on your computer, there should be a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) sticker somewhere on your computer. Your should find 25 character alphanumeric code on it.
If it’s not there, look in your paperwork or on any CD/DVD cases that were included with the computer for a Microsoft sticker.
If you bought a retail copy of Windows the key should be included in the box.
Obtain A Replacement Product Key
- Preinstalled Windows: Contact your system manufacturer to obtain a replacement. Contact information for computer manufacturers can be found here on Microsoft website: http://support.microsoft.com/gp/oemphone/
- Retail Windows: If you have purchased Windows separately from your computer, or if your product key is not working, contact Microsoft directly: http://support.microsoft.com/contactus/cu_sc_prodact_master/
Whichever method you use, once you recover the product key make sure to save it in a safe place for future reference.
Image source: Vibrant Spirit