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  1.    2 Weeks Ago #21

    NavyLCDR said: View Post
    Yes, I did miss your answer, @DAVEY JONES. Sorry about that. Probably what happened, I am guessing, is that when you let the scammers have access to your computer they obtained your product key from it and used it. The USB flash drive you purchased from Best Buy should be read-only and you should be able to install a clean copy of Windows 10 from it. Boot your computer from the flash drive, not the hard drive. When you are asked to enter a product key, click the little link that says "I don't have a product key". You can always activate it with a product key later.

    The best way to do a totally clean install is to select the custom install option, then when you get the list of partitions on the hard drive, delete every one until you see nothing but unallocated space. Highlight the unallocated space and click next to let Windows 10 create it's own partitions.
    I gave him the key by phone.

    What happens if one doesn't activate, OR if my original key doesn't work? As I recall MSFT doesn't let the o/s being installed on more than one machine. If it doesn't recognize this as the same machine (which seems to be what happened previously. I wrote the following in my handwritten log:

    "Denied activation 3X by phone so I reformatted drive C (with 1st Win10 install on it, 2nd install was on another drive) and the online activation then worked."
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2.    2 Weeks Ago #22

    I just ran a reactivation using my original product key, clicked on CHANGE PRODUCT KEY and re-entered it the result was "Genuine". That doesn't mean I'm home free.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. Joined : Jul 2015
    Posts : 6,851
    Windows 10 Pro
       2 Weeks Ago #23


    Blank out the product key in your previous post! Come on have to use some common sense too, respectfully. Nobody can be responsible for your product key being abused but you when you give it to people on the phone and post it publicly on the internet.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. Joined : Jul 2015
    Posts : 6,851
    Windows 10 Pro
       2 Weeks Ago #24

    This is my take on it, and my experience. I've been working with PCs since the mid 1980's when I had a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I. I was my ship's IT administrator in the 90's when we were upgrading from 286's and 386's to 486's and upgrading from Windows 3.1 to 3.1.1 and then to NT 4.0. I was an official Microsoft beta tester for Windows 95, 98, ME, and Vista. I've built multiple desktops, upgraded and repaired multiple laptops and my current household has a dozen networked computers of all types and 4 users (5th user passed away 3 months ago).

    The first goal, IMHO, should be to ensure that you have a clean Windows system to start from. You stated in your other thread that you allowed the scammers you were dealing with to install TeamViewer on your computer. It is more likely than not that they can now access your computer remotely, over the internet, any time they want to as long as it is connected to the internet. Your computer was infected with malware (virus, ransomware, whatever you want to call it.) I'll talk about the product key in a minute. The safest thing to do now is to wipe the hard drive and start over from a reliable source to install Windows 10 and you just happen to have a reliable source because the Windows 10 USB flash drive you purchased is read-only and would be next to impossible to infect with a virus - unless Microsoft themselves were infected and we have no indication of that.

    Like I posted earlier, the way to wipe the HDD and start over from ground zero is to delete every partition on it (at this point, even any data only partitions you might have) and clean install Windows 10 to the big, blank, unallocated space. It is very unlikely that the infection is in the UEFI firmware (BIOS) because not only is each model of computer firmware different, but even the same model computer may have several different builds of firmware and the infection would have to be specifically made for that specific build of firmware in order for the computer to still boot. So the clean install after wiping the hard drive is 99.9+% likely to remove any and all viruses until you do something to re-introduce it like open a previously infected file saved from the old infected installation.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. Joined : Jul 2015
    Posts : 6,851
    Windows 10 Pro
       2 Weeks Ago #25

    Now, regarding your product key. First, Microsoft will never ask you for your product key over the phone or chat. They might ask you to enter your product into a Windows activation screen, but they will never ask you directly for it. That is one way to know if you are dealing with Microsoft or not. Microsoft will ask you for your Installation ID. The Installation ID is entirely different than your product key. The Installation ID is calculated by Windows using a bunch of different parameters and the Installation ID will be 99.9+% guaranteed to be unique to the combination of the motherboard, the version of Windows installed, and the product key. Change any one of those three factors and the Installation ID changes. Microsoft actually activates Windows against the Installation ID - not against the product key alone. The product key only designates which type of license the user has but Microsoft tracks the installation IDs to determine how many times on different computers that product key has been used because they can extract the product key from it. As of yet, I have not seen any information to suggest that installation IDs are being hacked.

    Each time you install the same version of Windows on the same computer with the same product key the Installation ID will be the same and Microsoft should not have any issue reactivating it over and over. Until a very high threshold of using the same retail product key on different computers is reached, Microsoft doesn't have much issue with activating the same product key on a different motherboard which will change the Installation ID. There is a low threshold of the number of times a product key can be used on different motherboards and once you get to that threshold then the product key will no longer activate automatically on the internet, you have to call the real Microsoft activation number and a voice recording will ask you to enter the Installation ID - not the product key - and then it will ask you how many computers you have it installed on. You answer ONE and you get the activation in return - which will only work with that corresponding Installation ID. I have Microsoft retail product keys that have been blocked from internet activation, but I've activated on at least a dozen different computers and they still activate just fine over the phone.

    I suggest installing your Windows 10 clean without entering a product at first because in some situations a digital license for that computer and that version of Windows gets saved to Microsoft activation servers based on the Installation ID and a generic product key. I doubt that happened with your computer in these circumstances, but it is a small possibility. If that did happen, then your Windows 10 will activate automatically when connected to the internet and you are good to go - no worries.

    If Windows is not activated, it will continue to function. You just will get nag screens telling you Windows 10 is not activated and some personalization functions will be disabled. You can always then go the activation screen under settings, updates & security, and change product key and enter a different product key and if it is valid it will either activate online or tell you to call Microsoft. Microsoft will allow the product key to be used on different computers. They just make you call them and tell them it is installed on only one computer - up until a very high threshold is reached where it becomes obvious the product key has been compromised and it is no longer a single user that is attempting to use it. And again - Microsoft will not ask you for a product key over the phone or on chat - they will ask you for the Installation ID and tell you how to display the Installation ID to give to them.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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