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I apologize if this is a duplicate in advance.

I need to reinstall windows XP since it has become very slow and I suspected loaded with worms and root kits. I have uploaded all the files I need to dropbox and am not worried about reinstalling programs. However I haven't got the original disk or license key, is it possible to simply 'wipe' the computer and leave just the OS?

P.S. I know XP is horribly outdated but I haven't got the means to update to a newer OS or computer at the moment.

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Who is the vendor and how old is the system? Sometimes the vendor will have a recovery partition you can boot to in order to wipe the system to a clean slate. – jmreicha Mar 28 '13 at 19:13
what sort of pc? – AthomSfere Mar 28 '13 at 19:13
It is about 4 years old and a Dell D630 with XP Home edition – nontechie Mar 28 '13 at 19:16
Does the PC still have it's "Certificate of Authenticity" sticker? That's where the install key would be typically located on an OEM PC like your Dell. After that, just find an OEM install disc from somewhere (friend, internet, etc) and install using that key. – techturtle Mar 28 '13 at 19:29
@techturtle Yes, thank you - problem solved! – nontechie Mar 28 '13 at 19:36

Your requirements and contradicting - on one hand you want to keep the OS and wipe the rest of the computer on the other hand the OS is infected with worms and malware. Thus you won't accomplish your goal of getting a clean install.

Therefore I recommend getting the product key from the registry - it's stored there encrypted but there are tools that will decrypt it.

For example: (but there are many others)

Reveal XP product key

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there is a program in which you can obtain all the license keys for all of your programs. Its called Magical Jelly Bean. Then print all those out. Then get yourself a Windows XP Iso file. You can download most of them. Once you have all of that download Magic Disk to mount the Iso as a disk and then you can run windows installer and start with a completely new OS install and have all of your License keys. Just ask if you need anymore help.

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Will it still work even though it was pre-installed (apparently it will give the 'generic key' according to - link in answer below) – nontechie Mar 28 '13 at 19:21
yes it will work even if it was pre-installed. – Eryper Mar 28 '13 at 22:14
Also if i came preinstalled it will usually come with a sticker that has the key on it. – Eryper Mar 28 '13 at 22:16

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