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I want to completely format my computer, I've already backed up my files and I'm ready to push "the red button". However, my father would prefer if there was a way to format the computer without using up a windows installation disk which currently can install on two more computers.

So I basically want to delete everything and start fresh without having to "reinstall windows" and use up an installation credit. This is also a home built computer so there is no factory settings button provided by a company like HP nor have I done a system restore or a system image far back enough for count as a full clean wipe. Is there a way around this?

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You don't re-use a license by re-installing. If you have a valid license, then install. You might have to talk to call Microsoft when you activate the system, but 95% of the time they are understanding. If the hardware is identical you should be fine. Microsoft knows that Windows needs to be re-installed occasionally. They know drives fail. – Zoredache Jun 1 '13 at 2:35
up vote 3 down vote accepted

It has nothing to do with the disc, only the license key. If you use a license key too many times, you will have to call the automated phone system to activate Windows. As far as I'm aware, there isn't an activation limit (I've activated the same key via the phone system at least 3 times.)

The "two more computers" part concerns me a little. (Most) licenses are to be used on one computer.

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link This is the installation disk I currently use, my father was telling me that if I Reinstall using this disk on my wiped computer, it count it as having installed windows on 2/3 computers. I will try to get more details from him when he returns home. – S0RA May 31 '13 at 21:26
Neat! Didn't know there was a Family 3-pack upgrade. Silly question though: Does it come with 3 separate keys or just one? – Tanner Faulkner May 31 '13 at 21:29
Looking at the box it appears to be just one key, I assume the CD has a way of keeping track of how many installs have been used. – S0RA May 31 '13 at 21:59
Nope! It's not going to self-destruct after three installations or anything like that. You should be fine doing the install with the disc, it won't "use up" the disc or another license. – Tanner Faulkner May 31 '13 at 22:04

You can use Advanced Tokens Manager to back up your existing activation data:

Advanced Tokens Manager is an easy to use application that helps you with Windows and Office activation backup and restore.

(After backing up the Activation Backup button will change to say Restore Activation.)

(Back up this entire folder safely somewhere, preferably on an external drive.)

There's no real need of a tutorial since it's basically obvious how it works, but if you still need one you can check it out here.

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You can make separate partition (last on disk, small 4GB, shrinking first other last partition on the disk) with Windows installation files from the ISO image file (or DVD with Windows), set it up like bootable USB pendrive (active partition) and then boot right away from this partition to install the system. But this is the same as booting from external medium. So, be specific, why you can't or don't want to install from external medium.

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You can use for all computers the same medium, but licence keys should be different for each computer. And only if the key is for one computer (not sure, but for the same key there is possibility to install Windows legally on two computers - MSDN AA?). – pbies May 31 '13 at 21:27

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