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How Can I Re-Install the Free Version of Windows 10?

So back when they gave away free upgrades to Window 10 I went ahead and did it. That's the only copy of Windows 10 I have and now I need to reinstall it on a new drive. I downloaded Microsoft's tool and am creating a an install disc.

 

How can I activate it though once it's installed though? Obviously I never had a box with the key. The computer I'm reinstalling is still functional. Is there somewhere I can go to find my activation key?

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Just now, corrado33 said:

It.... SHOULD activate automatically once you're connected to the internet. 

How? Does it bake they key into the install disc?

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1 minute ago, Alexsolo said:

You can activate with a Windows 7 or 8 key.

So if i just use they key from my old Windows 7 disc it'll work?

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2 minutes ago, DCWalt said:

How? Does it bake they key into the install disc?

Nope, microsoft has a database that connects hardware with serial keys. If it sees a computer connect to the activation server with the same hardware (and hardware serial numbers)as one of the keys it has stored, it reactivates the computer. As long as you don't change like EVERYTHING in the computer, it'll still activate. 

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1 minute ago, DCWalt said:

So if i just use they key from my old Windows 7 disc it'll work?

Honestly I'd just install windows 10 and see if it activates itself in a few days. If it doesn't... then try the windows 7 key. 

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1 minute ago, corrado33 said:

Nope, microsoft has a database that connects hardware with serial keys. If it sees a computer connect to the activation server with the same hardware (and hardware serial numbers)as one of the keys it has stored, it reactivates the computer. As long as you don't change like EVERYTHING in the computer, it'll still activate. 

Thank you... here's hoping it works

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5 minutes ago, DCWalt said:

How? Does it bake they key into the install disc?

It remembers your motherboard.

It activates itself automatically.

If you need to change motherboards you can do this: https://support.microsoft.com/en-ca/help/20530/windows-10-reactivating-after-hardware-change

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2 minutes ago, DCWalt said:

Thank you... here's hoping it works

It's worked for me many times in the past. Works surprisingly well. 

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1 minute ago, Enderman said:

It remembers your motherboard.

It activates itself automatically.

If you need to change motherboards you can do this: https://support.microsoft.com/en-ca/help/20530/windows-10-reactivating-after-hardware-change

Didn't linus try changing motherboards in the "Why we use pirated windows" video and it still activated just fine? 

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Make sure you connect your Microsoft account to your windows. This is how Microsoft confirms and denies transfers of windows between PCs/Hardware nowadays. You can do this in the "activation settings" in windows. Just search that in the start menu.

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4 minutes ago, Cereal5 said:

Make sure you connect your Microsoft account to your windows. This is how Microsoft confirms and denies transfers of windows between PCs/Hardware nowadays. You can do this in the "activation settings" in windows. Just search that in the start menu.

Really? I've reinstalled win 10 on other people's computers and without them even signing in it activated. 

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3 minutes ago, corrado33 said:

Really? I've reinstalled win 10 on other people's computers and without them even signing in it activated. 

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/20530/windows-10-reactivating-after-hardware-change

 

It is their new recommended way.

My Build, v2.1 --- CPU: i7-8700K @ 5.2GHz/1.288v || MoBo: Asus ROG STRIX Z390-E Gaming || RAM: 4x4GB G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 2666 14-14-14-33 || Cooler: Custom Loop || GPU: EVGA GTX 1080 Ti SC Black, on water || PSU: EVGA G2 850W || Case: Corsair 450D || SSD: 850 Evo 250GB, Intel 660p 2TB || Storage: WD Blue 2TB || G502 & Glorious PCGR Fully Custom 80% Keyboard || MX34VQ, PG278Q, PB278Q

Audio --- Headphones: Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 6XX || Amp: Schiit Audio Magni 3 || DAC: Schiit Audio Modi 3 || Mic: Blue Yeti

 

[Under Construction]

 

My Truck --- 2002 F-350 7.3 Powerstroke || 6-speed

My Car --- 2006 Mustang GT || 5-speed || BBK LTs, O/R X, MBRP Cat-back || BBK Lowering Springs, LCAs || 2007 GT500 wheels w/ 245s/285s

 

The Experiment --- CPU: i5-3570K @ 4.0 GHz || MoBo: Asus P8Z77-V LK || RAM: 16GB Corsair 1600 4x4 || Cooler: CM Hyper 212 Evo || GPUs: Asus GTX 750 Ti, || PSU: Corsair TX750M Gold || Case: Thermaltake Core G21 TG || SSD: 840 Pro 128GB || HDD: Seagate Barracuda 2TB

 

R.I.P. Asus X99-A motherboard, April 2016 - October 2018, may you rest in peace. 5820K, if I ever buy you a new board, it'll be a good one.

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15 minutes ago, corrado33 said:

Didn't linus try changing motherboards in the "Why we use pirated windows" video and it still activated just fine? 

IIRC he didn't do a clean install, he just moved the drive over, so it probably hadn't checked yet to validate activation.

After some time it would deactivate itself.

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1 minute ago, Enderman said:

IIRC he didn't do a clean install, he just moved the drive over, so it probably hadn't checked yet to validate activation.

After some time it would deactivate itself.

Ah, I missed that part. 

 

2 minutes ago, Cereal5 said:

Ah, makes sense. I hate it, but it makes sense. 

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11 hours ago, DCWalt said:

How can I activate it though once it's installed though? Obviously I never had a box with the key. The computer I'm reinstalling is still functional. Is there somewhere I can go to find my activation key?

Just to clarify:

 

They are 2 systems.

  • If you used a Microsoft linked account, your product key is stored with your account. Once you setup Windows 10 for the first time, your key will be transferred and Windows will activate.
  • If you don't have only a Local account, then your product key is stored with a generated number based on your hardware specs. It is important to minimize any hardware changed between Windows 10 re-installs (if you plan to do that), else you'll need to enter your Windows 7/8 product key to activate.

Depending on the method you pick to re-install Windows, if you have a screen where it asks you to enter the product key, pick: "I don't have one". This will make the setup resume the setup and Windows 10 will be in trial mode until you are online and setup, where one of the 2 points mentioned above will be followed.

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Well, you have new drive and since you don't want to clone your existing system, you can try to install Windows without any risk anyway - you always have your current installation just in case. Do not erase your HDD until you'll be sure that everything works ok. And even then - it's always good to have second Windows just in case. BTW. Unplug HDD while installing Windows on SSD.

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