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I have bought a used computer with a valid and activated Windows 7, as installed by the vendor. There is for some reason no product key attached to the case so I cannot simply reinstall Windows 7 with my own media. It also appears that it is the original OEM product keys present in the registry database, so I cannot use those either. There is no recovery partition. Now I just want some way to be able to have a backup I can restore in case of problems.

Questions are: Will Windows Backup and Restore work for me? Or do I need to make a clone of my cleaned harddisk and then clone it back?

Suggestions?

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I would check out the utility at magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder it is free and should be able to recover your key prior to a format and reinstall. –  NewProgrammerJames Dec 23 '13 at 3:13
    
1) Which vendor? Some (most?) of them use the BIOS to activate their windows versions. E.g. if you use a Dell and a Dell windows DVD then you do not need to enter a CoA. 2) A clone which you restore to the same hardware will remain activated. –  Hennes Dec 23 '13 at 15:58

2 Answers 2

Yes, the clone (partition Windows) is a solution. For example, you can use Gparted which works great.

Nevertheless, there's an other way. You can use a software such like Advanced Tokens Manager to backup and restore your Windows activation. This software works very fine with Windows 7.

And for such as I know, to (re)install Windows 7, you didn't need mandatory a product key. You can proceed without and make the activation after. Your will get a grace periode of 30 days to do that. This period can be extend to 120 days (max).

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Appears that the Advanced Token Manager does not work with OEM product keys, but then asks for the Product Key. –  Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Dec 23 '13 at 21:28

Cloning/Backing up a windows system and restoring it doesn't require any Product key to be entered. Yet if you want to reinstall windows for some matter you can use some software to get that key and then inserting it while installing windows (I use Spotmau Powersuite, although it's a whole software package, but it will find your windows 7 key to be used again). You can also make some recovery CDs to recover and restore your windows after some major crashes.

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