[Solved] Is it possible to extract the product key out of a WIM backup?

Discussion in 'Windows 8' started by KaoDome, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. KaoDome

    KaoDome MDL Novice

    Jul 31, 2009
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    A couple of months ago I made a barebone backup of my Windows 8 installation (OS, drivers, updates and activation), at that time I restored it as well to make sure it worked.

    Today I restructured the hard drive to repurpose one of its partitions and since the layout changed after restoring the image I'm unable to boot the system. It gets me to a blue screen where I can either try again or press F8 to get to the advanced options (but it gets me to the same screen).

    The problem is I don't recall having made a copy or written down the key for that so even if I wanted to install Windows from scratch I wouldn't be able to start go through the key entering stage.

    Is it possible to extract a product key out of a WIM backup? If so, how could I do it?

    It was a retail key, and the backup was done via a WinPE with dism.
     
  2. JBenal

    JBenal MDL Senior Member

    Nov 2, 2009
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    Sounds like something I have done. :eek: Easiest way would be to resize the hard drive to original size, then do the Windows restore. Then use one of the utilities that can grab the keys from all the right places. Then use a partition program to resize the hard drive while Windows is installed. You can create a second partition at the same time.
     
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  3. EFA11

    EFA11 Avatar Guru

    Oct 7, 2010
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    if you plan to install the same version of win8 that came on the system, it will get the key to install during setup from the bios. no need it for that.
     
  4. Snuffy

    Snuffy MDL Expert

    Jan 7, 2008
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    If all else fails, he could install via VM, then the key would be easy to find... some how I feel he had a MAK Key, and not OEM.

    Also wonder why the Partition size was an issue... Legacy Boot, and restoring with Acronis,&/or Paragon has never been a issue with me ... now UEFI is a tad bit different...
     
  5. KaoDome

    KaoDome MDL Novice

    Jul 31, 2009
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    Thank you all for the answers.

    I don't think that the size is the problem, the size of that partition is the same as it was before. I wanted to delete a logical partition towards the end of the disk, but decided to clean it all in the end and partition the disk anew.

    The partition is also in the same position as before, and is marked as active (the one to boot).

    The laptop didn't come with 8, came with Vista back in the day. The key I had was from Dreamspark (I think that's the name, used to be MSDN-AA) from when I was at uni and my uni email account underwent an auto cleanup (there was an email there with the key) so I can't get it anymore. That's why I said it was a retail key, i.e. not VL.

    I tried an older version of Acronis as I don't have a license for the current Acronis Backup but it doesn't recognize 8 as a system able to be used with Universal Restore. I will try tomorrow in a VM to see if I can get it to boot.

    I used DISM and WIM because the size of the image was smaller and I could easily open the image to extract or access something (e.g. via 7-Zip), unlike Acronis' TIB format. I may end up changing my archiving way this time...

    Thanks again, any other insight is appreciated.
     
  6. EFA11

    EFA11 Avatar Guru

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    I think I have a solution for you, check your PM.
     
  7. murphy78

    murphy78 MDL DISM Enthusiast

    Nov 18, 2012
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    Unfortunately the key info is encrypted. The good news is that if you install said wim on a vm, there are many tools you could put on a USB flash drive and get the key that way.
     
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  8. kbman

    kbman MDL Novice

    Dec 24, 2012
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    I have a friend who used dreamspark, when she lost the key she logged into her dreamspark account. She looked at her past purchases and found windows 8 and her key was right there on the page with her past purchase.
     
  9. Tito

    Tito Super Mod / Adviser
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    #9 Tito, Jul 3, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
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  10. KaoDome

    KaoDome MDL Novice

    Jul 31, 2009
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    #10 KaoDome, Jul 3, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 20, 2017
    (OP)
    Thank you all for replying, it's very appreciated.

    I just got the product key using the steps Tito detailed so I can install the system again, I didn't have to create a VM and try to restore the image there in the end (although I'll try later to see if the backup is of any use or it's only tied to the original layout).

    If anybody is in the same situation after extracting the key you can unload the hive and dismount the backup through the following commands:

    Code:
    reg unload HKLM\test
    Code:
    dism /unmount-wim /mountdir:PATH\TO\MOUNT /discard
     
  11. sunilk

    sunilk MDL Member

    May 15, 2014
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    this time use win guggle or any other product key viewer and write down the key and never worry about it :tea: