Long story short my computer wont boot and since I don't feel like having it repaired I'm just going to do a clean install from an install USB. I having a laptop know the implications of having to reinstall important drivers. My question is how does one get a license key from a non booting computer? I cant boot into my windows installation and can only boot into the install USB, The product key isn't in a folder because it's a laptop, The product key isn't on a sticker on the bottom of my pc, I checked... twice, and the box and any documentation that came with my computer is sitting inside my attic where it will sit LOST FOR A VERY LONG TIME. Is there a file where the product key is installed? Can my computers creator help me? I can't have a non genuine windows installation.

Thanks for your help, -r

marked as duplicate by Mokubai Dec 29 '17 at 8:53

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Windows 10 does not use OEM stickers like older versions of Windows.

The product key is tied to the hardware and embedded in the BIOS on modern computers. Windows 10 will pick up this key and automatically activate when it is reinstalled.

There is no product key for you to recover. Once Windows 10 is activated the key is converted to a digital entitlement, paired with the hardware, and stored on Microsoft’s servers and the key is no logger recoverable from anywhere within the OS. So, even if there is not a key in the BIOS (Windows was upgraded from Windows 7, or activated some other way), Windows 10 will still automatically activate itself if it has ever been activated on that hardware previously.

During the initial phase of Windows installation, if you are prompted, you can proceed past the product key entry screen without entering one. Just make sure you choose to install the same version of Windows you were running previously.

If the HDD and Registry are not damaged, you can find the product key using tools such as Nirsoft's ProduKey. After downloading this utility, it can be run from a bootable USB drive (e.g. Windows PE or Windows To Go) or by removing the HDD, putting it in a external USB enclosure and running ProduKey from another PC with the old HDD mounted.

There are a number of disk imaging tools such as Macrium Reflect that will help create rescue media using WinPE to which you can add ProduKey.

  • This was true with older versions of Windows. This will not work with Win 10, nor Office 2013 or newer. – Appleoddity Dec 29 '17 at 4:51
  • ProduKey works on Windows Version 10.0.16299.125... just tested. Perhaps because this was upgraded from v. 8.1? Perhaps because it's a local (not OneDrv) account? Can't vouch for MS Office, as free LibreOffice is installed. – DrMoishe Pippik Dec 29 '17 at 17:23
  • Try googling the product key you recovered. It’s one of two keys. A generic key that will be all over the internet, or it’s a win 8.1 key pulled from the BIOS. All Win 10 upgrades receive a generic key with a digital entitlement. The original key for the original OS is destroyed, but it will still exist in the BIOS and win 10 will use it. – Appleoddity Dec 29 '17 at 18:57

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