"Click of Death" HDD: can I re-install Windows 10 Pro and activate

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  1. Hexeta's Avatar
    Posts : 6
    Windows 10 Pro
       #1

    "Click of Death" HDD: can I re-install Windows 10 Pro and activate


    I purchased my old well used Toshiba from a charity shop.

    I expected it to be running "Windows 7 home Premium OA" as evidenced by the COA Sticker, but after gaining access and booting, it was running Windows 10 Pro, ...nice surprise!

    It's a little slow but has served my purposes well for two or three years but recently had problems with Win update and finally carked with the click of death!
    Sad

    I have replaced the broken 650GB drive with a 320GB one which is running Linux Mint 20 which runs fine so the machine itself is OK.

    Because the OS which was on the broken drive was Win 10 Pro I suspect it was a PAID version, it was evidently not just the free upgrade version from Win 7 Home Premium OA which I would expect to have been the Home edition.
    I have no idea what the "OA" stands for in "Win7Home Premium OA".


    I would like to reinstall Win10 Pro but Microsoft tell me this is not possible without the original Key which they say may be stored in UEFI BIOS.

    This machine predates UEFI and the BIOS is set to Legacy, the only options being on or off!

    Can anyone tell me if the dratted Key is saved in the BIOS, or have I buggered that up by running Mint from the replacement disk?


    Because I didn't know the history of the machine, I created a new and separate Microsoft Account for it to create a barrier in the event of anything nasty lurking on it.
    I showed this to Microsoft Almighty as proof of ownership and the fact that I had been using it with Windows 10 Pro, but they say without the Key that doesn't mean anything so is it time for "The Revenge Of The Penguin"?

    In "Settings" the machine evidenced that it was "Activated" and I have never had any problems which would indicate that it wasn't legitimate, updates were provided and installed regularly without problems until a few days ago when (evidently) the HDD was in its death throes.
    Posting on Bleeping Computers , I was linked to your "Generic Product Keys to Install Windows 10 Editions" page.
    I thought I'd better seek advice first hand as I'm already confused by what should be a simple process!

    The problem machine is not my main daily ride, That is the NUC detailed in my profile.
    Can anyone guide me through this maze?
    Thanks in anticipation.
      My Computers

  2. spunk's Avatar
    Posts : 3,185
    Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit 20H2
       #2

    until a few days ago when (evidently) the HDD was in its death throes
    You need to replace the HDD maybe upgrade to an SSD. You can use the Windows 7 product key on the bottom of the laptop to Activate Windows 10. OA means it is an Toshiba OEM product key, which is a Home version key hence will upgrade to Windows 10 Home and can only be used on this laptop. You cannot install Pro unless you have a Pro key to use.
      My Computer

  3. AndreTen's Avatar
    Posts : 25,041
    Windows 10 (Pro and Insider Pro)
       #3

    As is stated above. Clean install will most probably give you Home license. Which is not that bad by the way.

    Now, if old HDD is still so much alive to (at least) put it in external enclosure and make System image of it (with Macrium Reflect free, or similar) and reapply that image to new drive, you could keep the Pro version.
      My Computers

  4. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 21,112
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #4

    Hexeta said:
    I purchased my old well used Toshiba from a charity shop.

    I expected it to be running "Windows 7 home Premium OA" as evidenced by the COA Sticker, but after gaining access and booting, it was running Windows 10 Pro, ...nice surprise!
    Welcome to Ten Forums.

    In Windows 10 licensing works differently from previous versions of Windows such as Win7.

    Once a licence key has been used to activate an install of Windows 10 the unique hardware ID of the PC is stored on Microsoft's activation servers and linked to a digital licence for the edition of Windows 10 that was installed, in your case as the Toshiba had an activated W10 Pro then it should have a digital licence for W10 Pro. The hard drive plays no part in the hardware ID of the PC, so you can replace it without affecting the digital licence.

    A digital licence means you can clean install the same edition of W10 (Pro in this case) and skip entering a key when asked. As soon as it can contact the activation servers Windows will activate from the existing digital licence.

    There is a possibility that the W10 Pro on the Toshiba was a pirated edition with an illegal activation hack. If so then it will not have a digital licence on the MS activation servers and a clean install of Pro will not activate. If that is the case then you can clean install Home. Skip entering a key when asked, then when Windows 10 Home is installed and can connect to the internet check to see if it is activated (if its original Win7 Home Premium was ever upgraded to Windows 10 it will already have a digital licence for Home). If not, then install the W7 Home key from the CoA, this is entitled to an upgrade to W10 Home and will activate the installed Windows 10 Home with a digital licence.

    In fact, to save the time and effort of (potentially) two clean installs you should start by installing W10 Home without entering a key. When Windows is installed and connected to the internet, first try installing the generic W10 Pro key. If the Toshiba has a digital licence for Pro Windows will upgrade from Home to Pro, if not it will tell you that it doesn't have a digital licence for Pro and not let you change the key. If Home is not activated, then use the W7 CoA key to activate it.

    Clean Install Windows 10

    Change Product Key in Windows 10

    Upgrade Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro
    Last edited by Bree; 3 Weeks Ago at 17:29.
      My Computers

  5. AddRAM's Avatar
    Posts : 4,380
    Windows 10 Pro x64 21H1
       #5

    W10 Pro is already activated, when you reinstall W10 Pro it will automatically activate, like magic

    Solid State Drives - Internal SSDs | Samsung US
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  6. Hexeta's Avatar
    Posts : 6
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter
       #6

    Wow! so many replies!
    Spunk: Due to the age and relative condition, I wouldn't invest funds in an SSD, nor even a replacement 650GB drive.
    For my purposes, one of several 320GB drives I have available would be enough space.
    I don't have the "Pro Key", so if a reinstall doesn't recognise the hardware and validate it as "Pro", that would be OK.
    I don't really have much experience installing Win 10 aside from my current NUC machine when I found even the creation of the "Tool" a nightmare!

    Andre! hello again!
    I agree with you, the Home install is barely distinguishable from Pro.
    It just annoys me to think that (if) the original owner actually "Paid" for Pro, then it should remain so. (I hate that Microsoft should profit from the HDD Failure!)

    I've heard that there are ways that If you're lucky, that clicking HDD's can be frozen and you might have just a few minutes/hours to recover important files etc.
    If that worked for me I would really only want to recover the Product Key in the quickest way possible!
    No idea where I would find that!


    Bree: thank you for your lucid instructions.
    I did ask "Edwin C." the illustrious "Relationship Manager Microsoft Executive Escalations", but he seemed to take the view that all who pester him must be pirates and should be treated with suspicion.
    I was told "If the Key was stored in my BIOS, a new install would retrieve it, ... otherwise I would need to buy a new Key!"
    From the limited knowledge I've gleaned from helpful sources other than Microsoft, it seems that Laptops of this vintage do not store the Key in BIOS, they rely on Microsoft's Servers, as you also advise.
    Just why this basic process should be so shrouded in confusion by Microsoft, I can't imagine!

    I think your advice to Clean Install Home without a Key and then try the Pro Generic Key is the smart choice.
    I'm confused though, because I have only once installed Win 10 using the Creation Tool I seem to recall that the two versions are loaded at that creation point onto the tool.
    I can't recall at what point, or indeed if there is some point during the installation procedure where the paths diverge; Home to the right, Pro to the left, so to speak.

    Another nugget of "information" imparted whilst exchanging emails with "Edwin C." was that the offer of a free upgrade from W7 to 10 has now expired. Meaning that because I could not provide any "Key" for 10 in either flavour, I would need to buy one!

    Similarly, with regard to "Pirating" I have no experience, despite being tempted with a cracked copy of Photoshop CS!
    I was scared just what else might get installed!
    However, I cannot believe that the copy I had was Hooky, since it professed to be "Activated" and I have hither to had no problems with Updates or any other interaction with Microsoft while using it.

    AddRAM: I really do hope that it goes the way you forecast, despite the age of the machine!
    ...and the owner!

    I am grateful to receive so much advice, I didn't expect such an immediate response and I may not get to take any action for a while since I'm grabbing the opportunity to get some final rays of Spanish sun on my old bones.
    It may be six weeks or so before I get my ducks in a row to tackle the reinstall.
    I hope I can revisit this thread then for more assistance.
    Thank you all.
      My Computers


  7. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 16,155
    Windows 10 Pro
       #7

    Whomever you talked to at Microsoft should be fired.
      My Computer

  8. Bree's Avatar
    Posts : 21,112
    10 Home x64 (21H1) (10 Pro on 2nd pc)
       #8

    Hexeta said:
    I've heard that there are ways that If you're lucky, that clicking HDD's can be frozen and you might have just a few minutes/hours to recover important files etc.
    If that worked for me I would really only want to recover the Product Key in the quickest way possible!
    No idea where I would find that!

    If you can mount the old drive in an usb adapter and it turns out to be readable, then you can retrieve the installed key from the old system with ShowKeyPlus

    I was told "If the Key was stored in my BIOS, a new install would retrieve it, ... otherwise I would need to buy a new Key!"

    The key is only stored in the bios starting with PCs buit for Windows 8, for Windows 7 the only key you were provided with is the one on the CoA.

    I think your advice to Clean Install Home without a Key and then try the Pro Generic Key is the smart choice.
    I'm confused though, because I have only once installed Win 10 using the Creation Tool I seem to recall that the two versions are loaded at that creation point onto the tool.

    I can't recall at what point, or indeed if there is some point during the installation procedure where the paths diverge; Home to the right, Pro to the left, so to speak.

    The first instruction in the 'Clean Install' tutorial link I gave you has links to tell you how to use the Media Creation Tool to make as bootable install USB. When you boot from this to start the install it will ask you for a key. If you choose to skip entering a key it then asks which edition to install. At this point you can choose Home or Pro.

    Another nugget of "information" imparted whilst exchanging emails with "Edwin C." was that the offer of a free upgrade from W7 to 10 has now expired. Meaning that because I could not provide any "Key" for 10 in either flavour, I would need to buy one!

    The only official line you'll get from Microsoft is that "The Windows 10 free upgrade through the Get Windows 10 (GWX) app ended on July 29, 2016." Note the specific reference to using the GWX app. Quietly, without telling anyone, they have continued to allow an upgrade to W10 using the ISO or USB to get a digital licence to this day. This works whether you are upgrading an installed W7/8, or clean install W10 and change the installed key to a valid W7/8 one, like the one on your CoA.

    However, I cannot believe that the copy I had was Hooky, since it professed to be "Activated" and I have hither to had no problems with Updates or any other interaction with Microsoft while using it.

    If the precise wording in Settings was "Windows is activated with a digital licence...." then it is likely to have been genuine. If it just said "Windows is activated" then it may have been 'hooky'.

    It may be six weeks or so before I get my ducks in a row to tackle the reinstall.
    I hope I can revisit this thread then for more assistance.

    No problem. We'll be here, and if we subscribe to this thread then we'll be notified when you next post to it.
      My Computers


  9. Posts : 909
    win10 home
       #9

    To see the licence information,use either ---command---or ---powershell---run as administrator,then type in:
    slmgr /dlv and press "enter".
    Also worth a look are:
    slmgr /rearm which allows you to access and rearm the trial period on a non activated copy.
    slmgr /xpr to check the expiry date and whether activation is permanent.
      My Computer

  10. NavyLCDR's Avatar
    Posts : 16,155
    Windows 10 Pro
       #10

    joeandmarg0 said:
    To see the licence information,use either ---command---or ---powershell---run as administrator,then type in:
    slmgr /dlv and press "enter".
    Also worth a look are:
    slmgr /rearm which allows you to access and rearm the trial period on a non activated copy.
    slmgr /xpr to check the expiry date and whether activation is permanent.
    There is no trial period for Windows 10.
      My Computer


 
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