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I have read that windows 8 retail can be activated online only a limited number of times. After that we have to go through cumbersome phone activation. Is there any way to backup activation files ?

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No, you can't do that. The activation is tied to a unique combination of hardware, mainly your CPU ID but also taking into account other things. Once you pass a certain threshold and the computer stops looking like the one you originally installed it on, it'll ask to reactivate. But the phone process should be fully automated; you just punch in a bunch of numbers and listen to it read them back to you. If you could backup your activation files as you say, then it'd be possible to install it on an unlimited number of machines, which would defeat the purpose of activation in the first place. – allquixotic Nov 8 '12 at 4:08
down vote Here is a secret. If you call MS support and tell them that you are failing activation, they have activated me every time. – Mikhail Nov 8 '12 at 5:36
@allquixotic You got me wrong. I'm talking about re-installing on same machine. – Serious Nov 8 '12 at 14:45
up vote 3 down vote accepted
  • Go to


Backup the "store" folder

note: the folder may be hidden, you would need to unhide hidden folders in Folder Options.

  • verify that the store folder contains these files and folders

1 file named data.dat which is hidden

1 file named tokens.dat which is visible

1 folder named cache containing a file named cache.dat

  • Re-install Windows

  • After Windows is re-installed run a new Command Prompt as Administrator where you need to type in:

slmgr -upk

to uninstall the key so the status changes to Unlicensed

  • Reboot in Safe mode and easiest way is by using msconfig via Run command. Choose the Boot tab and then Safe boot-Minimal, apply and restart when prompted.

  • Once in Safe mode open a new Command Prompt as Administrator and type:

    net stop sppsvc

to stop the Software Protection Platform service (sometimes you can get a message that it's already stopped and not running)

  • Go to C:\Windows\System32\spp\ and replace the current store folder with the backed up one using a simple copy > paste.

  • Open msconfig again and choose Normal boot under General tab this time, apply and click restart when prompted.

  • When restarted you can see that the watermarks are gone and by checking the usual commands

slmgr -dli

slmgr -dlv

slmgr -xpr

in Command Prompt you'll see that it worked and you're activated and by using the Volume Activation Management Tool 2.0 you'll see License Status: License renewed and Genuine Status: Genuine.


Source of Information

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Thanks. I'll try and report. – Serious Nov 8 '12 at 14:47

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