My friend's laptop motherboard died and he needs his Windows 7 product key from the hard drive (which is still working).

I connected the old drive as a secondary drive to my own computer and tried using a key finder utility, but it just keeps showing my own product key and not his.

Is there a way to retrieve the product key from the old drive using my computer?

  • 1
    Just use one of the many tools that can do this. See magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder And FWIW, My friend's laptop's motherboard fried and he needs his Windows 7 product key Most laptops have a COA sticker with the product key on it. See it here (upside down, and an actual product key...) – ta.speot.is Aug 26 '13 at 2:02

It’s possible, but a little tricky. You need to extract the product key from the Windows registry hive files from the target drive.

There’s different ways to do it, but probably the quickest and easiest way is with Nirsoft’s ProduKey:

  1. Download, extract, and run the program (it will show your own key by default)
  2. Press F9 to bring up the Select Source dialog
  3. Select Load the product keys from external Software Registry hive
  4. Browse to the SOFTWARE registry hive. For example, if you have the drive from the other system mounted as drive Z:, then you would probably select Z:\Windows\System32\Config\SOFTWARE
  5. Click [OK]

It should read the hive file from the other copy of Windows and display the appropriate product key.

In this screenshot, I ran ProduKey in Windows XP (installed in C:) and then extracted the key from Windows 7 (mounted as T:). Note how it still says C:\Windows since Windows 7 was indeed installed in C:, even though it’s files are currently accessible from T:.

Screenshot of ProduKey with default Windows key displayed and external Windows key displayed

  • when i try to to find window\config it isnt there in the os J:... could it be located in a different file? also his product key on the sticker has faded of course. – Dat Question Aug 26 '13 at 6:04
  • @DatQuestion, oops, it’s not Windows\Config, it’s Windows\System32\Config. Fixed; thanks. – Synetech Aug 26 '13 at 15:47
  • ok thank you soo much i found the file once again thank you soo much kind sir/ma'am – Dat Question Aug 29 '13 at 23:17
  • No problem. So you got the key? – Synetech Aug 30 '13 at 0:13
  • 3
    It's shameful how few computer technicians even know this is possible. For me, it has worked every time, even on non-booting computers (assuming the drive is readable). This is a very nicely laid out answer. – Jason Aug 20 '14 at 18:30

protected by Community Aug 20 '14 at 19:04

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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