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A client of mind has lost his XP home restore disk for his HP brand desktop. I need to reinstall windows for the client. I would like to know if a generic OEM install disk would work; by work I mean that when I put his CD key in windows will take it. I know I can order the cds but I need to get this done asap. I have read mixed things online and would like a definite answer if anyone has one.

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It's possible, but iffy. I found (having had an HP desktop a few years ago) that HP's OEM keys are sometimes set up to only work with their restore discs. They may have changed how they work, but that was my experience. In fact, with mine I was even unable to use my CD key with a different HP model's restore discs. If it works, great, but I'm thinking it's very possible it wont. It certainly won't work with a standard XP disc.

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It worked this time but there has been times before that it hasn't. Wish there was a defiant way to know in advance if it will work or not. Could save me some time. Thanks for the input! – evolvd Jan 27 '10 at 20:02

It would probably work, as long as it's an XP Home OEM disk. The best way to find out is to simply try!

I would suggest doing a bare-metal backup of the disk with something like Acronis True Image or DriveImage XML.

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There are different license keys for XP for Corporate Volume Licensed, OEM purchased/retail, and OEM pre-installed machines, depending on 'how' OEM the CD you have is, his key may not work.

For instance a Corporate Volume License key for XP Pro won't work with a Dell provided OEM XP Pro CD, and that Dell CD key won't always work with a retail copy of XP Pro.

As with many things this does depend on a few different things, so sometimes will work, sometimes won't depending on the exact CD key and CD type you have.

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You can use any Windows OEM disk (matching the original XP version, Home or Professional) with the license key from the COA sticker.

Additionally, you should backup the Windows Activation files and restore them after the installation.

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I would say you have about a 95% chance of this working assuming you are using the correct version of the OEM disk (Home vs. Pro). OEMs like Dell and HP use the same disks that you can buy from places like Newegg. In most cases, the "recovery disks" are OEM disks with all the drivers slip-streamed in.

Retail CDs, like the ones that you buy from stores like best buy, will not work. The disks are usually marked to specify what version it is. The easier way to tell is how much you paid for the disk. If it was around $100 for home, then it is OEM, if it was more like $200, then it was retail.

Also be careful to not use Upgrade media, that won't work either.

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