I am going to wipe my HDD with the help of using DBAN (Darik's Boot And Nuke). I have a laptop with a genuine Windows 7(provided by OEM).

So if I wipe then can I again activate windows 7?

(I don't have any CD because I bought the laptop with windows 7 pre-installed as I mentioned provided by OEM. And for the prerequisite I worked hard to find the product key which also I got it.)

  • I don't suggest wiping the disk of an old computer if you are not very very sure of having all the necessary drivers and apps.
    – harrymc
    Sep 13, 2017 at 8:51
  • 1
    @harrymc It is not about drivers.
    – user218987
    Sep 13, 2017 at 9:01
  • From your answer I see that you do not understand the complexities of what you are trying to do. Study better the issue before starting.
    – harrymc
    Sep 13, 2017 at 9:10
  • 1
    @harrymc I see from your answer that you are not trying to or able to understand my specificity of question which I have also bolded and italics-ed. Sorry for my jargons. And also it was never about complexity as I was specific.
    – user218987
    Sep 13, 2017 at 9:23
  • Your question might be specific but I'm trying to make you see the bigger picture. It several times happened to me to wipe a disk and then spend days scrambling after missing pieces. Even restoring to factory image can do that. You don't have a boot CD and certainly not a drivers CD. You should take great precautions, including first imaging the disk with a product that has a boot CD, just in case.
    – harrymc
    Sep 13, 2017 at 10:23

2 Answers 2


You can use Belarc Scanner to get the license keys of all installed software on your machine (inc Windows 7 key) however normally if it's a retail Win7 machine there will be a sticker on the laptop somewhere


IT will produce a lot of jargon, but it's not hard to find what you need; print it off and keep it somewhere safe

  • @T Crumpen I think my question is not about what you are answering.
    – user218987
    Sep 13, 2017 at 9:05
  • If you completly wipe the drive you'll be able to re-install the OS again, a hard drive is a separate component, the laptop doesn't care if it's a 8 year old hard drive or a brand new one, provided it can access the files it needs to that's all it cares about The license will be stored on the BIOS somewhere or on a sticker
    – T Crumpen
    Sep 13, 2017 at 9:08

Yes, from Windows 7 and onward, you'll find that most (if not all) OEM installs of Windows have the Product Key burned in to the motherboard, which will be automatically read by Windows during installation and activation. However, you'll still need to get as far as installing a fresh copy of Windows 7. One easy way to do this is to contact your manufacturer. Go to their website and contact their support team. They will typically be able to provide a link to an installer that typically includes any custom drivers you'll need, or you can purchase a CD/DVD disc from them.

Microsoft allows you to reinstall Windows 7 using the Download Windows 7 Disc Images page, but you'll need your product key first. You should be able to use NirSoft's Produkey to recover your key, then download the ISO from the Microsoft site, then nuke your hard drive and reinstall from a USB stick or disc. A simple search on your favorite search engine should also yield results for recovering the key using a PowerShell script or something similar.

As a last resort, you might borrow a Windows installer disc from a friend, if anyone has one laying around. The installer is only concerned about your key being valid, which should be the case if it's pre-installed on your laptop. I would recommend not doing this if you can get a disc from the manufacturer or directly from Microsoft, if only because the disc you borrow might not be compatible. If you go through the installation process and you're asked for a product key, you've installed the wrong version.

Finally, instead of doing a full nuke, try pressing F5 or F8 when the computer initially boots up, and in the boot menu, choose the Recovery partition. This is typically an area provided by OEM installs that contains a copy of the Windows installer you can use to reinstall Windows, without needing to nuke the system. You can delete the primary partition during the reinstall process if you'd like. Nuking is rarely necessary from Windows 7 onward.

  • IIRC an OEM product key won't work. On the other hand, if its an OEM install disk, it'll just work. I'd totally recommend making a backup and a restore disk in this situation
    – Journeyman Geek
    Sep 13, 2017 at 9:13
  • @JourneymanGeek The download site doesn't mention any limitation on OEM product keys, and kind of hints that it's allowed when you click the "Learn more" link. I'd recommend they at least try it, since the download is something they'd want to do before nuking. If it gets as far as downloading, presumably it should install. Of course, a backup is always a good idea anyways.
    – phyrfox
    Sep 13, 2017 at 9:19
  • The only difference between a retail disk and an OEM disk is a single line in a text file on the ISO. It is trivial to change it. How you do that, is documented in my answer, on how you download Windows 7 ISOs
    – Ramhound
    Sep 13, 2017 at 9:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.