Author Topic: Windows activation fails after changing hard disk  (Read 1697 times)

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Offline DR M

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Windows activation fails after changing hard disk
« on: February 17, 2019, 07:32:34 AM »
This is something I just heard from a friend, and I wonder if it is true:

Is the Windows activation code lost after changing a laptop's hard disk? Does the owner have to buy a new Windows OS in such a case?

What happened:
1. Windows 7, hard disk failed/died.
2. The disk was changed by a technician.
3. Update to Windows 10 was done by the technician, but the Windows is not activated now, because of the hardware change.

When I changed my hard disk, I did not have such a problem.
"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night.. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh..."

Offline techie

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Re: Windows activation fails after changing hard disk
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2019, 10:08:40 PM »
Did the old hard drive fail when it was still running Windows 7? If it wasn't upgraded to Windows 10 when it could have been done for free, then it can't be done now. If it was previously upgraded and they created a Microsoft account, then they have to login into there Microsoft account and the Win 10 will reactivate. It will show the system was previously activated in the account.

Offline DR M

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Re: Windows activation fails after changing hard disk
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2019, 01:07:55 PM »
Thanks, techie.

When the hard disk failed, it was still running Windows 7. It completely failed, meaning the computer could not even start, popping an error about hard disk's failure. So the only choice was to replace the hard disk and install a new OS, using the Windows 7 product key.

By what I understand, there was no solution except of buying a Windows 10 license?

And another question: What if the technician installed Windows 7 instead of 10? Would it be possible for Windows to get activated then?

Thanks again.
"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night.. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh..."

Offline Pete!

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Re: Windows activation fails after changing hard disk
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2019, 08:54:15 PM »
Since no one else has answered... what I'd try:

If I were in your friends situation, and had the key, I'd install windows 7 and use the key.
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows7
If it's a purchased key, being used on only one machine, I'd expect it to work.
If it's an OEM key, and didn't work, it's time to call Microsoft and explain the situation.

Once Windows 7 is activated, updating to Windows 10 may still be possible.

Disclaimer: I've never done this. I'm just saying what I'd try first.
Note: MS doesn't like downgrades. You may need to get rid of all traces of Win10 first.

Offline DR M

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Re: Windows activation fails after changing hard disk
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2019, 01:01:17 PM »
Disclaimer: I've never done this. I'm just saying what I'd try first.

I would try that too. But I won't and we will not learn "what if" now. The technician will do whatever he thinks. 
"In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars will be laughing when you look at the sky at night.. You, only you, will have stars that can laugh..."

Offline plodr

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Re: Windows activation fails after changing hard disk
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2019, 11:15:34 AM »
Quote
Update to Windows 10 was done by the technician, but the Windows is not activated now
I would think that part of the job of the technician when installing a new version of Windows was activating it.

Offline Aaron Hulett

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Re: Windows activation fails after changing hard disk
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2019, 06:45:00 PM »
I'll take a stab at it.

Looking like two things here: hardware change, and OS jump.

Hardware change
-------------------
Windows activation is supposed to handle a hardware swap or two without issue, but it's not always accommodating. A hard drive on its own is something that should be easy to upgrade without tripping an activation request, but if it happens, usually a phone call to the activation line gets things moving, sometimes without even talking to a person (automation does it).

Motherboard swaps, unless with the exact same board with the exact same revision, usually trigger activation. That's a pretty significant hardware change, as it's changing the board, processor, RAM, hard drive controllers, network card, sound card, and any other built-in items. Motherboard swaps are also very hard on Windows - it can be done, but sometimes Windows needs a kick in the device manager to understand it's just switched motherboards.

OS jump
----------
If the machine had Windows 7 on it when the hard drive died, and then magically Windows 10 appeared post-repair without ever being there before, there won't be any connection between the Windows 7 license and Windows 10 install, so *maybe* throw the free upgrade idea out the window. In this case, it's possible it will take a license (a.k.a. buy one) to get things going again. But, did the machine ship with Windows 7 on it (and the actual question: is the install key still available)? In theory, you can throw the Windows 7 product key into Windows 10's setup activation prompt (or perhaps even in Windows 10 post-install) and run with it, but that was a year ago, that might have been disabled.


---
I wouldn't go running after a Windows 10 license just yet, as it's worth it to try the Windows 7 install key here, but unless there's another way to go about this (I know there was an option if you went with the accessibility download or something) it's possible a new license might be needed. If using the Windows 7 install key does work, naturally, there cannot be a Windows 7 system running using the same key, as the key is now being used by Windows 10, but not looking like that'd be the case given there's only one system involved here.