My old 250gb samsung hard drive was showing signs of failure, so I decided to replace it. Before it completely failed, I used Macrium Relfect to create an image of the hard drive and copy it to an external 1tb USB hard drive. I never created the Windows PE boot cd on that computer because the hard drive failed before I could, so I created a bootable cd (technically a 4gb USB drive) on my laptop.
I installed the hard disk and inserted the USB drive. I changed my bios settings to boot from the USB drive and I get an error message saying to insert a bootable something or other. Basically, the computer wouldn't boot Windows PE from the USB drive. I'm not sure if this is because I created the boot device on a different computer, but I can't get it to work.
I then tried to just reinstall windows. I was hoping I could then install Macrium after the fresh install and use that to restore the backup image of my hard drive. I have a recovery CD with Wnidows 7 and I emailed myself the product key so I wouldn't loose it.
Everything went fine until I got to the screen where I was prompted to enter my product key, at which time it told me my product key was invalid. This is really weird because it's the same version of Windows and same product key that was previously installed. I checked it a dozen times and I had no typos. I have no idea why it's not working on the same computer any more. The only thing that changed was the hard drive, which shouldn't affect anything.
Anyway, my questions are:
1.) is there a generic way that I can restore my disk image from my USB hard drive without having an operating system installed?
2.) How can I get a new product key for Windows 7, or does anyone have any suggestions for how to deal with the fact that my existing product key is no good anymore?