Reformatting question - difficult situation

By Kuuro
Oct 20, 2009
  1. Hey, I have a few questions regarding formatting my Acer 3000 C100 Laptop.
    First off, its about three or four years old now, and has been in heavy rotation between five family members, and has accumulated numerous viruses and the HDD has filled up to the point that the computer is pretty much useless.
    Also, I would like to say that before posting, I have searched online as much as I could to gain information about reformatting, but a few questions still remain.
    I could not find clarification between "Product Key" and "CD Key" and I was wondering if there was a difference. One of the articles on this site regarding reformatting advised downloading "Keyfinder" if the CD Key or Product Key wasn't known, and it gave me a code. Then, another post on this site said that keys were usually located on the bottom of the laptop, and I located mine. It was quite different from what the Keyfinder gave me. It was labelled as "Product Key"
    What I would like to know is, which one of these numbers do I need to acompany the reformatting disk which will enable me to reformat, and what course of action should I take in the event that I cannot find any of my disks?
    (I dont think I will, I've been searching for days, and this computer has been with us through several house moves, I don't think I will find them.)
    Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks in advance.
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Good questions.. While product key, CD key (and activation key) are sometimes used interchangeably they all refer to the "key" required for paid products in order for you to use them. So you need to review the paid Windows and other vendor products you paid to use as they will all likely require a key. THEn you can figure out how to find keys by product.

    If it might also help, here's a checklist to help smooth the reinstall process
    1. Make sure you have your Windows install CDs
    2. Review Add/Remove Programs. Make sure you have activiation codes for any purchased software.
      > You can recover your Windows product IDs from your current installation using Magic Jelly Bean tool
    3. Note programs you need to reinstall. Check if they're available for download online or you still have their download CDs
    4. Backup all your personal files/folders
    5. Use DriverMax to backup all your drivers (so they are available if needed after the reinstall)
    Reformat and reinstall.
  3. WinXPert

    WinXPert TS Guru Posts: 445

    Ok the one at the bottom sticker under your laptop is your own CD-key. The reason why the keyfinder reports a different key is because the person who reinstalled you're OS used his own key. Next time you reformat use your own.
  4. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +183

    Oh yea.. Forgot to mention the key on the laptop sticker. Thanks WinXPert! :)

    (and if they're different may as well write them both down and keep in a safe place for reference)
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