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Replacing pirated windows 7 with genuine windows 7

Hi, first post here so apologies if this is in the wrong section. I have a unique situation where a friend deleted a genuine copy of windows 7 Home Premium from my laptop and replaced it with a pirated version of Windows 7 Home Premium. He was trying to help me clean up my buggy computer and decided that was the best way to do it. Anyways, the genuine copy was the one that came pre-installed on the laptop so I have no CD for it. However, I think the genuine windows files are still saved on the hard drive in a folder called windows.old. I am prepared to completely wipe the drive and install a legitimate copy of Windows 7 Professional but I wanted to know first if it is possible to restore the original genuine copy, provided I have all of the correct files to do such a thing. I have an external hard drive to transfer files if necessary. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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  1. Hi

    Is your windows activated ?
    What version of windows 7 , oem system builders, retail, upgrade, downloaded off internet and downt know source

    If activated no problem
    How was re install done ?
    Did it create windows old or was that result of upgrade from windows 7 to SP1

    Sometimes the recovery files for creating recovery DVD set are on hidden partition
    Sometimes on d:
    We do not have the make & model of laptop to advise further

    These details will be in user guide on manufacturers web site if a major brand
    Again the info on win 7 certificate of authenticity (coa) will give a clue as to type of windows originally on laptop

    Mike Barnes
  2. Thanks for the quick reply. Let me see if I can answer some of your questions.

    First off, the computer is a Dell XPS 15 L501X. The Express Service Code is 3443764429. The sticker on the bottom of my laptop indicates that it came installed with "Windows 7 Home Prem OA" and it also has a product key below that.

    It appears I have given you some false information. According to the system details, the pirated version currently installed is Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 and it is not activated. Before my friend wiped the drive and installed the pirated version, he copied all of the old windows files to an external hard drive. He then copied those files back onto the laptop after he finished installing the pirated version. Those are now in a folder called Windows.old.000.

    As far as I can tell, there are no hidden partitions on the drive, like a Q: drive or D: drive.

    Again, my intentions are to delete this illegal copy of Windows and restore the copy that came with the computer. However if this isn't possible, I will just purchase a new copy of windows.

    If you need any more information, please don't hesitate to ask.

  3. Best answer

    To determine if there are any hidden partitions you need to go to Disk Management
    (Control Panel / Administrative Tools / Computer Management / Disk Management)
    to see what partitions you have

    You need to also read the Dell user Guide for this model to see how recovery systems work

    From recent experience With a Dell Laptop there is a Dell backup & recovery disk builder program to build a pair of recovery DVD's

    I will look at the PC again tomorrow

    (Someone upgraded the English Windows 7 Home Premium to Chinese language version and I built the recovery disk set to install the English version again)


    Mike Barnes
  4. Hi mike,

    Thanks a lot for your help. I think I understand what I need to do now. Since I have the product key, I just need to use the backup & recovery files to re-install Windows 7. Either those files are partitioned on my drive somewhere (I checked under Disk Management but didn't see anything) or I can make my own recovery disks from Dell's website and just use those. I just need to make sure I get the correct recovery files, but if I have any questions about that I will probably just call Dell. I still need to read the user guide just to make sure I am understanding this correctly, but I think you have me pointed in the right direction. I will work on it a bit tonight and let you know the results.

    Thanks again,
  5. Hi

    If you got to disk management you would see what partitions exist
    I looked at a Dell laptop today

    First 100meg
    Second recovery 14.5GB
    Third OS. Remainder about 280GB

    The recovery partition contain the. Recovery files
    You need to talk to Dell or read the user guide to find how to start up the recovery partition
    Or Dell will sell you a set of recovery DVD's much cheaper than any other legal copy of windows 7


    Mike Barnes
  6. Finally fixed the computer and it is now running a genuine copy of Windows 7. I’ll explain what I did in case anyone else has a similar issue in the future. I think this solution will work for anybody that wants to do a clean install of Windows 7 on a Dell computer who either doesn’t want to use the recovery partition that came with the computer or no longer has the recovery partition. As long as you have the product key that they stick on the bottom of the laptop, you can reinstall a valid copy of Windows 7 (and its 100% legal!!).

    What I did was download the 64 bit Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 .iso file from
    Just make sure you download whatever version your computer originally came with (Home premium, Professional, Ultimate, 32 bit, 64 bit, etc.)

    I then used Windows 7 USB DVD download tool to write the .iso file to a USB drive (must be at least 4 gigs)

    Save anything that you want from your computer on some external media since the next step is reinstalling windows. I would make sure to save the drivers so you don’t need to re-download those later. Plug the USB drive in a USB 2.0 port (not USB 3.0 or else it won’t be able to read it once the installation process begins later) and restart the computer. Press F2 immediately and change the boot sequence so that the USB drive is first (Google it for more detailed instructions if necessary). Press F10 to save the changes.

    The computer will restart and boot the Windows installer from the USB. Follow the installation instructions and let Windows copy all of its files and stuff onto the drive. You should also have the option to format the drive and start from a clean slate so do that if you want. It will eventually get to a point where you will need to enter your product key. Type the number exactly as it’s written on the sticker (which in my case was located on the bottom of my laptop). Windows will finalize the installation and once it restarts a few more times, you should be on the familiar desktop screen.
    Once everything is loaded, you will need to activate the copy of Windows. Click on the Start button, right click on Computer, and select properties. Scroll down and look where it says Windows Activation. It will probably say something to the effect of “You have 3 days to activate Windows”. Click on that and then click “Use the Automated Phone System”. Call the number and follow the robot’s automated instructions to authenticate your copy of Windows.

    If it’s done right, it will say “Windows is Activated”. Then you can reload and install all of the drivers you saved from earlier to get your computer back to the way it was. One benefit of installing Windows without the recovery partition is that you won't have all of that bloatware that would otherwise be installed.

    Hope this helps!
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