Windows 10: Replacing old HD with SSD - product key question

  1.    18 May 2018 #1

    Replacing old HD with SSD - product key question

    The hard drive in my laptop is dying. I am upgrading to an SSD this weekend. I have a couple of hopefully quick questions.

    My laptop originally came with Windows 8.1. As soon as I was able to I did the free upgrade to Windows 10. I really do not want to purchase a copy of Windows 10. I do have a partition on my hard drive that will allow me to create a bootable installation USB drive. But I think that would be 8.1 again (original OS). Yesterday my computer updated to the 1803 update for Windows.

    I see there is a tutorial on the use of the Media Creation Tool and/or Rufus. I can follow that. My question is if my product key will be valid with a new hard drive? Or will my product key only work for an 8.1 installation?

    Thank you in advance for any help that you can give. It is very much appreciated.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2.    18 May 2018 #2

    If you have validated your existing copy of Windows 10 and it says "digital license" in your activation status:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    you can simply make the drive swap and go through activation again. A disk change is not enough to make your existing activation invalid. It doesn't matter if you have a Microsoft account, either.
    Thus, you should be able to swap drives without activation issues.
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  3. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 8,793
    10 Home x64 (1809) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       18 May 2018 #3

    As Ed says, you can change the drive and the digital licence is still valid. The HDD doesn't form part of the hardware ID that the activation servers use to recognize your PC.

    You can do a clean install of Windows 10 on the new SSD. You probably won't even be asked for a key or which version to install (Home or Pro). PCs built for Windows 8 have a key embedded in the firmware and Setup should read that to find out for itself.

    If you are asked install the same edition as you had before, Home or Pro, and skip entering a key (click on 'I don't have one...' if asked). Windows will activate automatically from your digital license as soon as it can contact Microsoft's activation servers.

    Alternatively, if you make an image of the HDD to an external drive with something like Macrium Reflect (free) then you can restore the image to the SSD and it will still work and be activated. Remember to make the Macrium boot media, you'll need to boot from that to do the restore.
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  4.    18 May 2018 #4

    Ed and Bree - Thank you for the answers. I will be updating this weekend (backing up files tonight). I will update this post to let anyone else know how it all went. Thank you again for the helpful (and fast!) responses. Very much appreciated.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  5.    18 May 2018 #5

    You're very welcome, @WishYouWereHere. Hope you get things sorted out. Happy to be of help!
    Best wishes,

    PS: I'm a big Pink Floyd fan, too. Saw them on their Dark Side of the Moon tour in the Capitol Center, MD, in 1973. Great show!
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  6. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 8,793
    10 Home x64 (1809) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       18 May 2018 #6

    EdTittel said: View Post
    You're very welcome, @WishYouWereHere. Hope you get things sorted out. Happy to be of help!

    PS: I'm a big Pink Floyd fan, too....

    Amongst those concerts I've been to, Knebworth '75, 'The Wall', Earl's Court, London, 1980
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  7.    19 May 2018 #7

    I bought a Samsung SSD. It came with a piece of software that made the change over from my old HDD practically trivial. You just need a little box (available from Amazon for about $20 give or take) that you can use to make your SATA drive an external USB drive. Basically I just plugged in the SSD as an external USB drive, ran the software, then a few hours later, put the SSD in the laptop and it all just booted up as if it were born that way. No fuss, no muss. I'm thrilled with the results, too. I swear my laptop is 5x faster. I was really surprised.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  8.    19 May 2018 #8

    Yes, really helps. I now own three of these -- Sabrent USB 3 mSATA drive enclosure (US$20) -- and use them all the time.
    Great stuff!
      My ComputersSystem Spec

  9.    20 May 2018 #9

    To the OP, I'd make a note of what edition of Windows 10 is on there now, Home or Pro, just in case you get asked to select an Edition. The OEM Windows 8.0 Core key in my laptops BIOS stopped being auto read a couple of builds ago. I have no idea why, but I now get asked to select an Edition, it doesn't auto select for me anymore. I'm actually fine with that, I've been wanting it that way actually.
    I mention it because, if you get prompted to select an Edition, and pick the wrong one, it won't activate with the Digital License. The Edition has to match exactly.
    Last edited by alphanumeric; 20 May 2018 at 05:50.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


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