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Vista Serial Number Unreadable - OS Not Booting...

Last response: in Windows Vista
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August 24, 2011 2:06:58 PM

I have a Vista laptop that has a damaged hard drive. That's not the problem but the Vista sticker with the serial has worn so badly it can't be read. Is there any way I can access the serial number from the limited access I have to the hard drive or is it not possible to retrieve it?
a b D Laptop
August 24, 2011 2:16:57 PM

Try using the Magic jelly bean - ( Download Linkie ) -- It will give you the serial number that is currently in use on the system - then compare that to the sticker to see if it matches. Another option would be to contact the support line of the laptop manufacturer - they will ask you for some info off of the laptop (ie. the readable portion of the sticker and perhaps make\serial number of the laptop etc.) and will usually provide you a new key.

Also many times the key is already included in the recovery disk image that was provided with the system (or hidden partition on the HDD) so resetting it to factory state will normally also copy the key onto the new HDD upon reinstallation from the recovery disk.
August 24, 2011 3:26:53 PM

But doesn't that require Windows to be running. I only have the hard drive?
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August 24, 2011 8:09:47 PM

I've managed to retrieve the key using the tools on this page. It seems to work by loading the hive from the old hard drive and then decrypting it. Unfortunately, Microsoft say this key is invalid....
a c 206 D Laptop
August 26, 2011 4:54:55 PM

That means that the disk used to install Vista is not the same one you are using now. You need to use an OEM Vista disk to use the key you have, or maybe the other way around. You're better off getting a Windows 7 license and using that. Or contact the vendor for a restore disk and ask them if they can get you they key also, it should be in their records.
August 26, 2011 5:37:00 PM

You're right but it doesn't always reject the key. It only seems to happen now and again with Vista..
a c 206 D Laptop
August 26, 2011 6:11:47 PM

alfarom said:
You're right but it doesn't always reject the key. It only seems to happen now and again with Vista..


What do you mean about not always reject the key? You can't use it more than on one computer.
August 26, 2011 7:05:20 PM

I mean that more often than not the key will work with a reinstallation using a standard vista disc. For example, if a hard drive has failed and there is no recovery media.
a c 206 D Laptop
August 26, 2011 7:12:54 PM

If they key worked to set up the PC, but failed registration, you'll have to contact MS to get that sorted out. As long as it's a valid key and not re-used a bunch of times should not be an issue.
August 26, 2011 7:50:05 PM

I did. All sorted now.
!