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I have a Sony Vaio laptop which came pre-installed with a HDD running Windows 7 Professional 64 bit. It just crashed unexpectedly & I have no way of recovering anything from it. Its completely dead.

Now I have bought a new HDD to replace the old one & want to install the same OS in it. I dont want to go for a new OS with a new key. I have only the COA product key (which came with my laptop when I bought it) and a retail Windows installation CD. I dont have the disk that came with the laptop.

Would this alone do? Will the COA key alone be able to activate Windows on my new HDD?

I have very little knowledge about this, so any kind help from anyone would be highly appreciated. Kindly please provide me with some help..

  • The existing COA number should work with an OEM install disk. Probably won't work with a retail install disk. What do you mean, the "digital driver servers" are down? This Q and A seem relevant: superuser.com/questions/399375/… – Jamie Hanrahan Jun 11 '16 at 18:29
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    If you have a Sony OEM Windows 7 disk, you should just be able to reinstall on the new hard drive and go, it likely won't even ask for the key since it will look at the BIOS ID string and it will match the list on the Sony OEM Windows disk and it will activate automatically. I have had a 50% success rate at installing a retail DVD version and entering an OEM COA key. Sony should be able to provide the reinstall/reimage DVD for a nominal cost. See Sony eSupport page at esupport.sony.com/US/p/model-accessories.pl for contact information – acejavelin Jun 11 '16 at 18:39
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    @RebeccaValentine Yes, exactly what I meant. This deals with the BIOS ID string and if it exists in a certain file on the Windows DVD at the time of installation. Getting into more details gets into a gray legal area and is frowned upon here. It might worth it to look in some of the major torrent sites, if your computer is a popular model, you might be able to find a recovery ISO image specifically for it but take anything you obtain that way with a grain of salt, there is always the potential it is not what it appears to be or is slightly modified, read the reviews. – acejavelin Jun 11 '16 at 18:50
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    I think it should. If you are installing windows in the right language, it might give you a number based on your country to call. For me it was just a 800 number and it's a machine that you enter a bunch of on screen numbers from your computer, and you type the numbers and letters the phone gives you into the activation program and then it will activate. This is assuming you even have to do the phone activation at all, sometimes you get lucky and just entering the COA key will work instantly. But if not the activation window gives you all the instructions. – trenten Jun 15 '16 at 15:52
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    I just checked this and according to this site windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/… you can select the location for the phone activation. Follow the instructions found at that link, and it should give you the right phone number for the activation. If this works for you be sure to vote. Thanks. – trenten Jun 15 '16 at 16:12
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This question is a little similar to something I have answered before. In my experience, if you have a computer with a COA sticker on the bottom, you can activate that key for the version of Windows that it's for on that computer as many times as you want. If you don't have a Windows installation disc for that specific version of windows, you can search the internet for an ISO image and burn a copy if you have to perform a clean install.

I always try to get an ISO file from a Windows source such as This first. If that for some reason doesn't work you can always try sources other than Microsoft such as This. If you try this link, please make sure to watch carefully when you are downloading. I had to create a quick and free account, and also there is a box that you need to uncheck that ask to download with a manager.enter image description here

Just please read and look at all comments about the site you are downloading from. As a last resort you can also try to search a torrent site for a non activated copy. Make sure that it is a legal copy of Windows and does not say ANYTHING about pre-activated or cracked copy or anything similar. You want a copy that you have to activate.

After you have your ISO image file you can use a program such as Free ISO Burner to burn the image file to a DVD. The image file should already be bootable so you shouldn't have to mess with boot settings.

After you create your installation disc, you can then install windows. Use the COA key on the sticker to activate windows. When the install is finished you may still have to go into the activation wizard and complete a phone activation. The instructions to activate can be found here.

After you have everything activated and it shows that it is a genuine copy, you can then go to install updates. These will take forever, but you need to update.

That is pretty much it. I do not condone using illegal Keygens or hacks to activate windows so please make sure you try a Microsoft source first and make sure that it's a copy that you have to activate. The key is what makes the copy of Windows legal or illegal. You always want to have a good, safe, and legal installation of Windows.

PS. I just tried the method with downloading the ISO from the second source and tested it, and it works. The only other thing to note is that if you are using Free ISO Burner, make sure to check finalize disc. See below.

settings for Free ISO Burner

  • thank you so much for this again.. I tried to vote but I get something like this.. "Thanks for the feedback! Once you earn a total of 15 reputation, your votes will change the publicly displayed post score".. but anyways, thanks again @trenten – Rebecca Valentine Jun 15 '16 at 16:50
  • That's fine. Happy to help. I think others with the same issue will find it helpful, so it's fine. – trenten Jun 15 '16 at 16:57
  • I just tried to input my key into the MS website to download the ISO but could not. I was asked to contact the manufacturer for further support. Guess I should try my luck with the phone activation.. And if everything else fails, will go with the ISO file.. thanks once again.. – Rebecca Valentine Jun 15 '16 at 16:59
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    If you have to activate it, then it's legal. If you go to start, Control Panel, System, And you see a spot that says Activate my copy of Windows, Then it is a legal inactivated copy. As for the second link I am almost certain that is where I got my ISO for the laptop I am on now from. But considering you are having to go through the activation, that means yours is not activated and is legal. You can always de-activate a copy and then use a legal key, but I don't think that is your situation. – trenten Jun 15 '16 at 17:14
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    Thank you so much for testing it out.. & also for the tip.. thanks a ton.. – Rebecca Valentine Jun 16 '16 at 15:56

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