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I'm a computer technician and we started selling few Windows 8 machine. We saw the new COA label does not show the key and after reading a little bit online, realized those systems came with the key emmebeded in the eUFI BIOS.

My question is : How do I reinstall Windows 8 if the hard drive is crashed? I kind of get that you can install it with a media and the media should activate the licence embedded. What is the media required? Is a retail DVD is able to do the work or do I need a system builder kit? I understand the manufacturer is reponsible to provide media or replace the failed drive under the warranty but what will happen when warranty expire? I'll have to sell a full windows 8 licence with a key?


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This question has been asked before on this website. The only version of Windows 8 that would install without a previous version of Windows already being installed is System Builder. The installer will should automatically pick up on the emmebeded key. Of course you could just use the tool built into Windows to reset Windows. You need to use either a Windows 8 or Windows 8 Professional dvd. – Ramhound Jan 18 '13 at 17:04
Why not just do what everyone who is worried about a hard drive crash does -- make a backup. – David Schwartz Jan 18 '13 at 18:28
My situation involve an Asus laptop which has been bought little over a month ago that already show sings of failure of the Toshiba Hard Drive in it. Chkdsk is not completing properly and I don't see how a built in option could help me transfer an install over a new hard drive. – Nick Jan 18 '13 at 21:56

I find it hilarious that others are actually suggesting things like "do a refresh, it's Windows 8", or "Just use a keyfinder.".

Read the question the OP posted. The drive is CRASHED. Worst case scenario, it cannot even be read by another machine directly connected to SATA.

"Hey don't worry, just use the recovery disks!" - What is this, 2003? Most vendors (if not ALL by now) just shove your "restore disk" onto a separate partition on the hard drive [which, oh yeah, is dead now].

So, you can't use keyfinders cause the drive is toast, can't use recovery media because we've moved onto this streamlined 'it's on your hard drive' era, and a refresh is completely out of the question cause we obviously can't boot into Windows.


Get your hands on some clean installation media. If an official vendor will not give it to you, torrent it. We merely need to get Windows installed onto the machine with the NEW drive you have. The BIOS will at least tell us which version of Windows 8 it is. (If not, assume non-pro for consumer, and pro for business).

Click "skip" when the installer asks for the installation key when prompted. On the next screen, you'll hit CTRL + SHIFT + F3 to get to the "I'm an Admin, let me set up this computer for first time use" mode.

Download RWeverything (this reads the key out of the BIOS on Win8 Machines -- see this thread on how to use it) Then, hit the start button and open up Windows Activation (not the Win8 tile app, there should be a different one that shoots you back to the desktop). It will have an "activate" button. Click it and let it fail activation the first time. Then, it will ask if you want to try with a new key.

Insert key you found with RWeverything. Activate. SUCCESS.

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Interesting question. I have seen several refernces to this not being an issue but cannot find a link.

What I remember is that if you need to reinstall Windows 8 from the recovery partition or recovery discs, then the setup should recover the product key from the hardware. This should be simpler than having to read a string of tiny numbers off a sticker located somewhereon your desktop or notebook PC. Especially after the sticker is worn or removed.

Not sure how different media will impact recovery

A number of posts suggest you can create bootable USB recovery media

  1. Go to start screen
  2. type "drive recovery" in search screen - choose settings tab in search screen
  3. click on "create a recovery drive"
  4. Have 16GB USB device conneted
  5. Write recovery

Takes some time( over an hour) according to those who have used this

Looks like OEMs also offer methods for this For example, Lenovo has a tool and info here.

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The process with Windows 8 is different. This answer really does not apply to this question. Many vendors do not send out recovery disks anymore, and with Windows 8 having the built-in ability to do a factory reset, I am not even sure they have recovery partitions. – Ramhound Jan 18 '13 at 17:22
I understand that Windows 8 can reset itself but replacing the hard still imply having the option of installing from a media. Manufacturer should then supply a recovery set but in my case, the customer does not have the recovery set. I'm wondering if I take another recovery set from a different model if it would work :\ – Nick Jan 18 '13 at 22:05
@Ramhound As you note Win 8 has some new repair/refresh options, but would they function with a failed drive. – Dave M Jan 21 '13 at 14:13
@DaveM - Yes it would. – Ramhound Jan 22 '13 at 12:09

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