Lost XP Pro product key -- what to do?

By dspgandalf ยท 13 replies
Aug 12, 2011
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  1. I have an old Dell Dimension 4500 and I want to wipe the HDD and start all over because it's a little currupted after all these years but I can't find the product key for the op sys. I don't even know which disk it came with--I have SP1 and SP2 but my SP2 disk won't boot, it's damaged--what the heck do you do? I see people are paying around $60 for a key--not me! I'm affraid to wipe it and talk to Dell or Microsoft and find out they won't do it--then I'm out a comp. What to do...what to do...:dead:
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

  3. ReMiXeDg

    ReMiXeDg Banned

    You may want to check out the link the member posted above me.. I was reading up on it and it may help you.

    Good luck, Also That is an old computer why not sell it and just upgrade yourself to a more powerful computer?
  4. dspgandalf

    dspgandalf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 22

    BIG Problem! Not original op disk...

    :cool:Thanks for the quick reply...the problem that I now see with recovering the product key from my comp is that it won't work with the op sys CD that I have, the orginal CD was lost someware in time--it was SP3 and the only working copy of Pro that I have is SP1, I might be able to save the copy of SP2 that I have--but...

    As far as getting a new comp--I have one! (Check out my specks in my profile) The Dell is now my wifes and she just surfs with it, but it's got 2x1GB mem, a 3.06 GHz processer--which Dell said couldn't be done and the best AGP vid card! (Also in my profile) I just wan't to really make it hers and speed it up without removing all that I can find piece by piece--tedius!
  5. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    If you have the original Dell OS Resource disc it is unlikely you will require the product key. I've never entered it on any of my Dell's when restoring the OS using the Dell CD in the past.
  6. CAMusing

    CAMusing TS Enthusiast Posts: 179

  7. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    If you can create a fresh XP at any SP level then you can update it from MS with an SP3 download. You really should end up with SP3 because that is the only version still supported by MS since months ago. Without SP3 you cannot obtain security updates and it will be vulnerable on the internet - a little.
  8. dspgandalf

    dspgandalf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 22

    Soo afraid...!

    Ya, thanks for that. The only problem I percieve is that the key on my comp won't jive with the SP1 copy I have--dead comp! And I tried a dirty install once and it really messed things up--to really get the job done right you have to reformat the HDD otherwise some ol' registry entries could really create some prob's with the re-install. I've read in a few posts that SP1 keys are diff from SP3 keys so I'm thinking of putting in a clean HDD and trying it that way, if it works--yippy-ki-ya!
  9. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    If your product key doesn't match the Windows version on the CD, using a different hard drive, clean or otherwise, won't help. You should try to get a CD from Dell (based on your service tag). You will have to pay a nominal amount for it but that's to be expected these days.

    No need to wipe it first and talk to Dell afterward. That's backwards. Talk to Dell first, get your CD and then install it using your existing product key (after you recover it from the registry, that is).
  10. dspgandalf

    dspgandalf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 22


    Ya, not putting another penny into this ol' thing--it is what it is. It might be slow but it works, just thought I'd give it to you guys--it's always worth a try!
  11. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Could you please clarify:
    1) Does the old Dell 4500 still boot and start Windows?
    2) Did you try Produkey to recover the current keys on the Dell 4500?

    In addition:
    > I agree with Leeky. fyi... If you have a Dell XP install CD and you are installing on a Dell computer, I don't recall the Dell XP install CD ever prompting me for the key (i think Dell vista and W7 yes, but not XP)
    > I also don't recall the keys ever being different based on SP level. You get a license for XP not for an XP SP level
  12. dspgandalf

    dspgandalf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 22

    K, it's a Dell disk but not the one it came with
    XP works just corrupted after all these years--slow, slow, slow
    The key that it has now is from a non-Dell disk
    I read in one of the posts that each level has a new key
  13. gbhall

    gbhall TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,431   +77

    As above, you could ask Dell for a new install disc because you lost the old one, and at the same time, tell them your Dell PC service tag on the case and ask for a matching key for it. A Dell recovery disc I would not expect to work with the key currently in the OS if that was installed from say, a retail CD

    In fact, as Leeky says, you may not be asked for a key anyway. But......but I seem to gather from things you have said that the PC is no longer original hardware spec in certain ways, and indeed that might turn out to be a problem. Something to clarify with Dell if I am right.

    One last thought - if all your wife wants to do with it is surf, then why struggle with Windows anyway ? An install of Ubuntu etc will do that just great for free, and you can add openoffice and lots of other things which are all completely compatible with MS office etc.

    If you have never seen a Linux system working, the scales will fall from your eyes.
  14. dspgandalf

    dspgandalf TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 22

    I found a way, let's just say it will work...!

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