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Backup Question


osiyo
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Okay, I'm new here. Been reading for a while but never posted or formally joined. Until now.

I'm not a complete computer systems novice. Been using them since way back. And in fact make a living using them. But in a specialty field, computer automation control of various mechanical and electrical equipment. So there are big gaps in my knowledge, particularly concerning the newer versions of the Windows OSs.

Anyway, this is a personal problem I'm asking a question about.

I have several computers about the house. With a variety of different Windows versions scattered among them. I OWN original CDs of the OSs. So, no problem. I have the originals stored away, and I make a dupe for usage, when and if needed. ie Several of the puters are older, hacked together items. And as one would expect, from time to time something fails. No prob, I do a reinstall after repair/replacement.

However, my wife just bought herself a new puter. And the durned thing didn't come with an OS CD.

This bugs me since she's an on-line game player. She's handicapped, so it's a way for her to keep entertained plus the on-line chats associated with the game rooms she visits is a way for her to socialize freely. And she's formed numerous lasting friendships with on-line friends.

BUT .... past experience has shown that she also picks up a lot of bugs, adware, malware, assorted virii, and so forth in her usage of her machine. Seems every couple months she'd tell me her machine is acting funny, and operating sluggish as heck. And I'd have to get on it for several hours to clean up the unwanted garbage. Usually use readily available utility programs. AVG, Adaware, Spybot, EasyCleaner, etc. But sometimes have had to resort to manual cleanups. The old file manager, hex viewer, Rededit, MSconfig, and so forth to find problems, bash em, replace infected/altered components, etc.

A couple times, I even deemed situation FUBAR. Could maybe manually fix, but it'd take days. So I resorted to complete reinstall.

Now with new new machine, less than a week old, I did original setup, XP Home was installed, I did config and added some things, and started off by installing every security measure I could think of ... that would still be consistant with letting her visit her game rooms and play the games. (Mostly variations of different card and board games). Then, as I'm inclined to do, search shipping box for the original XP Home CD. So I could stick it somewhere safe.

No CD.

Okay. What's with this? I presume manufacturer must have some files on the hard drive I can't find? Copy of whole WinXP install? Maybe not. I don't find anything ... which I recognize as such.

Any hints or ideas? Not asking for whole answer. Just point me in the right direction. I'd like to make a CD with the whole "Install" copy of XP home for her puter. I mean, what happens if the harddrive itself crashes?

Or do some manufacturers of desktops put on ONLY a customized, stripped down version of Windows on their machines? If so, how the heck do yah handle changing hardware components to one they didn't plan on you having?

I know, I could just use one of my other Win XP CDs to reload her machine if it came to a serious crash. But I don't want to do that. That copy, on her machine, is hers, now registered to her. I don't need or want licensing issues with MS, due to running 2 copies of same OS with same reg/product key. I want to be able to make backup reinstall copy of the WinXP on HER puter. So I can put it away for use when and if needed.

Please, no suggestions for cracks, altering product keys on one of my other OS Cds, or whatever. I've done some cracking in the past, but as a hobby. Like figuring out puzzles. Not as a means to get a pirated copy of something I'd actually use. I own originals of everything I actually use. Or, item is a freeware. I don't do the illegal copy ... for use ... thing.

Ideas? Suggestions? Just a pointer for where I can look further?

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I would Ghost the machine. This is a product from Symantec I am familiar with that clones the hard drive and reinstalls in minutes minus anything on the hard drive. You would have to create a clean usable install first then Ghost it to a DVD or 2nd hard drive or something. As far as creating the install cds there should be an icon somewhere on the machine to do that or they should give you the media. Most likely it's on the hard drive waiting to be burned. Look for an i386 folder to say the least. Either way use the key that came with the computer and you will probably be fine using a different oem cd. Call Microsoft and explain the situtation and they'll hook you up. People would like you to believe they are tyrants but it's not true...

btw http://www.backtheFup.com is my new site dealing with backups. It's not complete. I am looking for help with buttons & graphics if anyone has spare time to help.

Edited by KAndle
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I believe that kAndle is correct. In my experience any OS cd will do, as long as you have a seperate key. Use your own cd with her key and no one will know the difference. However, on newer laptops I know that some producers place the os in a hidden partition that can be burned once (and I believe it dissapears after that, releasing the partition to be used at your leasure). If nothig else, it could be worth getting those additional GBs.

If I'm mistaking here, someone please correct me...somewhat of a novice myself, but trying my best and learning in the process.

Edited by e0asto
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I know your situation. If the computer in question is a Dell, then yes, there is probably a backup partition on the hard drive that can be used to restore your system (I am sure other manufacters do this as well). I don't really care for this, just for the reasons you posted this in the first place--if I am capable of re-installing my own OS, then I should be entitiled to a copy of the installation media (hey, I have a license).

Norton Ghost can be used to create a backup image of your system. What is great about it is instead of a clean OS install, it actually re-installs an image, so all your files and applications are still intact (from the time the image was created).

If you still really want to create a CD for this machine, one thing to do is check out the Unattended section of the forums--what I would do is copy the XP disk to your hard-drive (make sure system files aren't hidden), slipstream SP2 (if not already included), NLite it, then edit the WINNT.sif file in the i386 folder to match the product key of your new machine. None of this is all that complicated, and as I mentioned, there are numerous guides and helpful members in the Unattended Windows forums.

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if I am capable of re-installing my own OS, then I should be entitiled to a copy of the installation media (hey, I have a license).
Read that EULA you agreed to carefully - you have a license to use the software the way the OEM sees fit, and in the way they can allow you to with regards to the OEM's actual license with Microsoft to provide the software. In Europe this is less of a limitation due to the invalidity of certain portions of EULA's in regards to most European laws, but here in the US you'll have to (legally speaking) take it the way it's given.
No CD.

Okay. What's with this? I presume manufacturer must have some files on the hard drive I can't find? Copy of whole WinXP install? Maybe not. I don't find anything ... which I recognize as such.

It depends on the vendor, and the agreement they have with Microsoft - you need to be a rather large OEM to provide actual operating system CD's with your OEM computers, and it does cost more for the OEM per machine to provide the whole CD as well. They can meet their support requirements (the vendor supports Windows when they ship it with their hardware, not Microsoft - it's in the EULA) by shipping a restore CD or restore partition, and since it's cheaper to do so and harder to get an agreement from Microsoft to actually provide the OS CD's, they do this. Also, be careful of installing a retail or VLK copy of Windows XP on an OEM machine - a lot of EULA's forbid this, unless you purchase the copy of Windows from the OEM itself (and all Windows upgrades, btw). The reason for this is that if you call MS for support on a retail OS on an OEM machine, they won't support it and will direct you to the OEM. Since it isn't the OEM's version of Windows, they won't support it and will direct you to Microsoft... Not that most of us would care, but just an FYI.

Dell usually provides a full OS CD though, unlike other vendors *cough*HP*cough*.

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Dell usually provides a full OS CD though, unlike other vendors *cough*HP*cough*.

Trust me, Dell now is shipping it's consumer models with recovery partitions (which indeed upset me).

In terms of the EULA, is what you saying is that if I own a computer with a valid license but no CD because the OEM did not provide one, that it would illegal to re-install the OS using a different XP CD (perhaps a retail CD purchased for a different system), even if I use the correct product code? I ask becuase I want to able to provide sound advice when I respond to people on this board. I understand your point about EULA and the OEM's usage of the software, but I would still prefer for the OEM to provide me with a copy of the media.

Everyone knows support from microsoft or the OEM's is completely worthless anyway (unless you have a large corporate account and your support is actually handled from your home country), so I don't really concern myself with who I would call for help, because I wouldn't--hey that's what these boards are for right?

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If you call the activation center & tell them you installed a gateway oem on a dell they do not care. They have to give you a valid activation code because you won't get an automatic one. They do not care. They seem to just want to know. They won't tell you not to do it. Whatever the EULA says Microsoft isn't going to tell anyone to buy another copy of Windows to reload their legit computer. True the store bought copy won't accept an oem key code, you can't get around that but the oem versions will load with an off brand key code and Microsoft will still activate it from my experiences. Activation is where the problem lies not loading.

Not to mention losing all the preloaded factory software. I have a Vaio laptop that came with some real nice software that I didn't burn the DVD and CD I was supposed to before I reformatted to load XP Pro.

Edited by KAndle
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Thanks to all for the info. It's helpful.

Also, thanks for the suggestion of Ghost. I will look into it. Have seen ads, seen reviews, etc. But as with all advertisements, I take em with a grain of salt ... and wear the hip waders as I'm fairly sure it's gonna be piled high and deep. So it always helps my decision making if I hear or read favorable reports from folks who actually use whatever.

As concerns NLite, etc .... I will be reading and investigating. I've always done a local download of upgrades, fixes, and the like. Comes in handy.

ie Just a couple weeks ago my best friend's desktop took a dump on him. A virus, apparently. Probable culprit ... his 18 yr old daughter. He's caught her before using his computer and trying to download illegal copies of music and such. (She only has dialup at her place, daddy has high speed cable) Anyway, he was out of town for a week (work), came back, and suddenly his internet access was woefully slow ... turtle slow. BUT ... activity lights on his cable modem was going crazy. Even when he wasn't using the computer. Puter also has a modem, and it kept attempting to dial out. (He finally unplugged phone line) And his printer/scanner wouldn't work from that puter.

Most annoying. He also has a laptop. But when home, prefers the full sized desktop due to the larger screen and better keyboard. And that computer isn't just entertainment. Like myself, his office is in his home. A traveling tech, does security work. Door access control, security cameras, etc. In fact he did the security (of the sort I mentioned) for MS's Fago, ND business offices. Like myself, he does all his paperwork, files payroll time, creates reports, orders parts and materials, starts up AutoCad or Visio to do layout designs and wiring schematics, etc from home. Prints copy, sends digital copy to main office, and so forth. For both of us, we only actually go in to the real 'Office' maybe once a week for a meeting or something.

Like I said, messed up puter is annoying. Especially when yah just came off a week's roadtrip, and are all ready to file final reports, update drawings for "as builts", and such so main office can bill the customer. Then file your expense reports, fill out your time sheet so you'll get paid, yourself.

So I got a call by annoyed friend. Went over. I don't know what he had, but he had it good. Try to pop up his anti-virus proggie (Norton) and it'd flash on screen, then close. I tried Adaware and some other commercial program he had on his machine for protecting it from ad and malware. Both would load. But wouldn't scan, wouldn't even try to do online updates. Nothing. I checked items with MSConfig and found unknown processes running. I'd close em out, reboot ... and they'd be back. Used a file scanner and found endless files with whacky names.

Anyway, I finally gave up and told him it seemed like a good time for a new install. He had original WinXP disk he got with puter. I wiped harddrive well, installed XP. Old copy. Pre-SP1. He moaned about endless download and installs to update. Which is when I pulled out my home made CD's with SP2 and other updates on it. And I got him up and flying again.

BTW, he removed his daughters ID and password on this new install. He was more than a little miffed. Wasn't his wife's doing. She has her own puter. Old and slow, but she only does email on a puter, so it serves well enough for her purpose.

So I'm kinda anxious to merge some original OS CDs with updates. Would save even a bit more time, I'm thinking.

Thanks to all, again. I'm glad I found this forum.

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I have found that the current XP, with SP2 and updates, is much better at preventing spyware/malware at the OS level than XP was just a little more than a year ago--not to deny the importance of AV and Anti-spyware software, but keeping your computer up-to-date is definately an important step. I recently had to completely rebuild my mother's computer, one of the biggest problems was that she had turned Auto Updates off a long time ago because she was tired of see the "updates are ready" balloon, which she was ignoring anyway.

You are probably right about your friends daughter too, one of main reasons I would always recommend downloading things like mp3s from a legit site, although it may cost some $$$, is not so much because of legal concerns, but because one of the fastest ways to expose yourself to spyware/malware/viruses is by downloading material from unknown sources using file sharing networks.

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I have found that the current XP, with SP2 and updates, is much better at preventing spyware/malware at the OS level than XP was just a little more than a year ago--not to deny the importance of AV and Anti-spyware software, but keeping your computer up-to-date is definately an important step. I recently had to completely rebuild my mother's computer, one of the biggest problems was that she had turned Auto Updates off a long time ago because she was tired of see the "updates are ready" balloon, which she was ignoring anyway.

You are probably right about your friends daughter too, one of main reasons I would always recommend downloading things like mp3s from a legit site, although it may cost some $$$, is not so much because of legal concerns, but because one of the fastest ways to expose yourself to spyware/malware/viruses is by downloading material from unknown sources using file sharing networks.

Sage advice, I'm thinking.

On my own puters, I keep auto-update turned off. But DO check MS's site regularly and do manual updates.

A lot of folks don't, or put it off far too long. My wife, for instance. These days I've started making it a routine to log onto hers and ensure she's not only downloaded the updates, but also that they're installed.

As concerns the downloading and swapping of illegal ... or questionable ... files. As I said, I'm no IT pro. But know a little something. And have a lot of friends and acquaintainces who know next to nothing of computers and OSs, except how to turn em on and run a favorite app. Which is fine. There are a lot of things I know absolutely nothing about. So many come to me for help.

I've noted that the machines I've seen that have been screwed up the worst (in numbers of adware, malware, and virii) have been machines where I've also found the signs and evidence that a user has been visiting ... ummm ... questionable sites, and/or running peer-2-peer proggies and swapping files.

<Shrug> I'm not about to judge of other people's morales and values. None of my business.

But morales aside, it seems from what I've seen that spending any significant time visiting, and/or doing any significant file downloading/swapping at sites which have illegal copies of music, cracked commercial programs ... or keygens for same, or at hard core porn sites ... is just asking for trouble. From what I've seen, a LOT of folks intent upon spreading malware, adware, and virii seem to concentrate on doing so thru such sites.

Chuckle, sometimes I've got to try REAL HARD not to laugh at or rib someone about the things I find on their harddrives. In several cases the people concerned tried to delete the evidence of certain activities they really didn't want anyone else to know about. But obviously didn't know the many ways Windows leaves behind the evidence. Fortunately, I don't shock very easily.

Again, thanks to all for the info provided.

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Here are my instuctions for making a Pre-Activated Windows CD. To complete these steps you will need an OEM windows CD of the same edition(Preferably a Hologram CD but using another vendors CD should work as long as the vendor didn't make too many changes) and a working Pre-Activated PC.

Create a folder named OEMFILES.

Change your folder veiw settings to show hidden files and to show extesions.

Search your hard drive for files named oembios, you should find at least 4 files, oembios.bin, oembios.cat, oembios.dat, and oembios.sig. You also may find the following files oembios.bi_, oembios.ca_, oembios.da_, and oembios.si_.

If you have the files that end in _ copy them to the OEMFILES directory and skip the next 3 steps.

Copy the 4 oembios files to the OEMFILES directory.

Run makecab on each of the 4 oembios files.

Delete the copies of the oembios files.

You should now have the following files in your OEMFILES directory: oembios.bi_, oembios.ca_, oembios.da_, and oembios.si_.

Create a file called winnt.sif in your OEMFILES directory with the following contents:

[UserData]
ProductKey=XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX

[Data]
MSDosInitiated=0
UnattendedInstall=Yes

Replace the Xs in the winnt.sif files with a valid Generic key using one of these methods:

Method 1: Use the Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder to find the key used by your OEM in the factory

method 2: Use a key listed at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechn...y/oempreac.mspx or one of the System Builder keys listed at http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechn...oy/wpadepl.mspx.

DO NOT USE THE KEY ON THE COA STICKER

Copy the contents of your Windows CD to your hard drive.

Copy the contents of your OEMFILES directory (it should b 5 files) to the i386 directory.

Make a bootable ISO using nLite, CDImage, or mkisofs.

Burn the CD using your favorite CD recording software.

This process has worked on every computer I tried it on. I'd suggest installing on a spare HD the first few times you do this process

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Here are my instuctions for making a Pre-Activated Windows CD. To complete these steps you will need an OEM windows CD of the same edition(Preferably a Hologram CD but using another vendors CD should work as long as the vendor didn't make too many changes) and a working Pre-Activated PC.

snipped rest for brevity.....

Ouch, now you guys are making my brain hurt. And I just got up this morning and am still on my first cup of coffee.

The file copying, editing, etc I follow easily enough. As I've stated, I'm not a complete computer newbie.

What's making my head hurt is all the different info and views about this licensing or product key thing.

Probably it's just that I'm sort of dense, slow thinking, and a knuckle dragger pretending to be a homo sapien.

I'm probably misunderstanding. But some of the info here sounds like methodology to circumvent having a LEGAL copy of Windows and using it.

What makes me reasonably certain my impression is wrong is that in numerous posts to this Foum which I've read, the majority of posters appear to honest and intent upon not doing that. Ohhh, some may push the EULA thing by making hacks or changes not approved by MS. I'm not against that. Have done it myself with Win98. I just don't expect MS to provide customer support if I change their original stuff. And all I change is my own personal copy of the OS. (In the case of Win98, I haven't even tried to do such with XP as I know far too little about any of the NT based versions of Windows.)

My conclusion? My head hurts. And I know I've gotta be misunderstanding something.

I THOUGHT ... that the product key or COA, whichever as I'm not sure of the difference, was the equivalent of my "Proof of Purchase". A method to prove to MS that I did indeed buy and pay for one valid copy of a Windows OS, which I could freely use on ONE machine at a time.

Thus, that has been the principle I've been going by. For each machine in my home, plus a few in my adult children's homes, I can produce one original CD, with the product key factory printed on it. I've got a CD storage cabinet with assorted and sundry original CDs in it. For various versions Windows, MS Office, etc. I do have backup copies of the CDs, with product key penciled in on a label. But if required can produce matching original. The backup is just that, a backup.

Now, some of the machines in my home are running XP. And I've one copy for each of an original CD. Tho, not one for my wife's new machine, as it didn't come with a CD. Which caused my original question.

How do I make a LEGAL backup of an install type CD, that I could legally use to rebuild her system if the HD crashed or something. Legal, as in she could reactivate HER copy of XP, go to MS's website without worrying for customer support, to get updates, etc. She could let em run their validation tool, with no worries, and so forth. Because she could demonstrate she has a valid license. Honestly gotten.

I avoided asking any such question at any Warez or crackers group or forum, figured somebody on such would know, but also figured I might get questionable (as concerns legality) answers.

I'm not particularly afraid of the boogey man, or MS trying to track me down, or anything. If I wanted to go an illegal route, I would. Simple as that. And figure my personal chances of getting away with it are pretty good. I'm not in the class with many of the folks whose posts I read here, but I do know a thing or 2. And have muddled my way thru reverse engineering a few times. (It's been a while, tho.) Even have all the basic tools and am not totally lost when dealing with assembly, C, C+, etc. And am quite aware one can find sites where one can download updates, fixes, upgrades, etc without ever pinging MS's sites.

But I am a practical man. I'm not against MS, or any programmer, making an honest buck. (I am myself a programmer, but within a rather specialized field) Besides, if you're a legal owner of a liscense, you can reasonably expect at least some customer support and help. ie In my work I own legal liscence for a few specialty programs which I use daily. I quite reasonably expect that if one does not work as advertised I can call maker and complain. Have em fix problem, or tell me what I'm doing wrong, or provide some sort of work-around, etc.

This is what I've been trying to maintain with MS. I don't use or like ALL of their apps. In some cases I think others do a particular chore better. And I'll use an app made by someone else instead of the MS equivalent. But my world, work world, is a DOS and Windows world. (Yes, DOS is still being used here and there. A number of things I work with still employ DOS, or a version of it. Sometimes embedded.) And most of the tools I use for automation work; dedicated controller setup, controller programming, GUI front-end creation, etc; are based upon the Windows platform.

On the home front, I don't want my wife, for instance, to have to come to me for every nitpicking little thing as concerns her machine. I want her OS to be at least reasonably compliant and standard, so it'll run the things she uses without unnecessary hassles, I want her to be able to openly just click on "Updates" and get the latest changes, and I want her to be able to openly go to MS, her computer hardware maker, etc and ask for help when she has issues ... no problems ... because she's a legite customer.

Sorry for being so long. But I'm trying to be clear. There are very good and valid reasons for being a LEGITIMATE customer. I wasn't asking for any illegal hacks or cracks.

Not that I know that was what some of you were offering, I don't. I'm just confused about this product key/COA thing I'm guessing. I'm evidently not the least bit familiar with how it actually works.

I was presuming it was something like a method we use for products we sell. Customer gets a unique "key", if yah want to call it that. Although other info is also required, such as customer name, address, ec. Copy of software CD is freely copiable. Make all the backups yah want. Want to put software on a different puter? Be our guest. But first wipe it off the original puter. The software does "phone home" so to speak. We don't care about customer's personal business. Or whether or not customer moves software once a year, once a month, or once a day. <Shrug> Customer's copy, do as yah like. But if TWO running copies with same identifier "phone home", we're gonna ask questions. Or if one copy "phones home" and has an identifier we have no record for. There are ways to defeat this, of course. I haven't done so, but could probably do it myself. But I won't.

Want to run software on 2 machines at same time? Buy 2 copies. There is a discount for this. Also site licenses for running many copies.

I'm guessing MS's system is not like this? Must be. My head is still hurting. But that's not at all unusual for us knuckle draggers. We're always behind the times and have trouble with new concepts. :-)

Am I being told I can copy, for instance, my original ... it has the holograms and everything, Windows XP CD and use it to restore/reinstall my wife's system, as long as we enter that code on the sticker on the side of her new puter? Granting it's the same version of Windows? And everything will be legite?

I appreciate everything everyone has said so far, and REALLY appreciate the patience you've had with this Neanderthal.

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  • 1 year later...
Here are my instuctions for making a Pre-Activated Windows CD. To complete these steps you will need an OEM windows CD of the same edition(Preferably a Hologram CD but using another vendors CD should work as long as the vendor didn't make too many changes) and a working Pre-Activated PC.

snipped rest for brevity.....

Ouch, now you guys are making my brain hurt. And I just got up this morning and am still on my first cup of coffee.

The file copying, editing, etc I follow easily enough. As I've stated, I'm not a complete computer newbie.

What's making my head hurt is all the different info and views about this licensing or product key thing.

Probably it's just that I'm sort of dense, slow thinking, and a knuckle dragger pretending to be a homo sapien.

I'm probably misunderstanding. But some of the info here sounds like methodology to circumvent having a LEGAL copy of Windows and using it.

What makes me reasonably certain my impression is wrong is that in numerous posts to this Foum which I've read, the majority of posters appear to honest and intent upon not doing that. Ohhh, some may push the EULA thing by making hacks or changes not approved by MS. I'm not against that. Have done it myself with Win98. I just don't expect MS to provide customer support if I change their original stuff. And all I change is my own personal copy of the OS. (In the case of Win98, I haven't even tried to do such with XP as I know far too little about any of the NT based versions of Windows.)

My conclusion? My head hurts. And I know I've gotta be misunderstanding something.

I THOUGHT ... that the product key or COA, whichever as I'm not sure of the difference, was the equivalent of my "Proof of Purchase". A method to prove to MS that I did indeed buy and pay for one valid copy of a Windows OS, which I could freely use on ONE machine at a time.

Thus, that has been the principle I've been going by. For each machine in my home, plus a few in my adult children's homes, I can produce one original CD, with the product key factory printed on it. I've got a CD storage cabinet with assorted and sundry original CDs in it. For various versions Windows, MS Office, etc. I do have backup copies of the CDs, with product key penciled in on a label. But if required can produce matching original. The backup is just that, a backup.

Now, some of the machines in my home are running XP. And I've one copy for each of an original CD. Tho, not one for my wife's new machine, as it didn't come with a CD. Which caused my original question.

How do I make a LEGAL backup of an install type CD, that I could legally use to rebuild her system if the HD crashed or something. Legal, as in she could reactivate HER copy of XP, go to MS's website without worrying for customer support, to get updates, etc. She could let em run their validation tool, with no worries, and so forth. Because she could demonstrate she has a valid license. Honestly gotten.

I avoided asking any such question at any Warez or crackers group or forum, figured somebody on such would know, but also figured I might get questionable (as concerns legality) answers.

I'm not particularly afraid of the boogey man, or MS trying to track me down, or anything. If I wanted to go an illegal route, I would. Simple as that. And figure my personal chances of getting away with it are pretty good. I'm not in the class with many of the folks whose posts I read here, but I do know a thing or 2. And have muddled my way thru reverse engineering a few times. (It's been a while, tho.) Even have all the basic tools and am not totally lost when dealing with assembly, C, C+, etc. And am quite aware one can find sites where one can download updates, fixes, upgrades, etc without ever pinging MS's sites.

But I am a practical man. I'm not against MS, or any programmer, making an honest buck. (I am myself a programmer, but within a rather specialized field) Besides, if you're a legal owner of a liscense, you can reasonably expect at least some customer support and help. ie In my work I own legal liscence for a few specialty programs which I use daily. I quite reasonably expect that if one does not work as advertised I can call maker and complain. Have em fix problem, or tell me what I'm doing wrong, or provide some sort of work-around, etc.

This is what I've been trying to maintain with MS. I don't use or like ALL of their apps. In some cases I think others do a particular chore better. And I'll use an app made by someone else instead of the MS equivalent. But my world, work world, is a DOS and Windows world. (Yes, DOS is still being used here and there. A number of things I work with still employ DOS, or a version of it. Sometimes embedded.) And most of the tools I use for automation work; dedicated controller setup, controller programming, GUI front-end creation, etc; are based upon the Windows platform.

On the home front, I don't want my wife, for instance, to have to come to me for every nitpicking little thing as concerns her machine. I want her OS to be at least reasonably compliant and standard, so it'll run the things she uses without unnecessary hassles, I want her to be able to openly just click on "Updates" and get the latest changes, and I want her to be able to openly go to MS, her computer hardware maker, etc and ask for help when she has issues ... no problems ... because she's a legite customer.

Sorry for being so long. But I'm trying to be clear. There are very good and valid reasons for being a LEGITIMATE customer. I wasn't asking for any illegal hacks or cracks.

Not that I know that was what some of you were offering, I don't. I'm just confused about this product key/COA thing I'm guessing. I'm evidently not the least bit familiar with how it actually works.

I was presuming it was something like a method we use for products we sell. Customer gets a unique "key", if yah want to call it that. Although other info is also required, such as customer name, address, ec. Copy of software CD is freely copiable. Make all the backups yah want. Want to put software on a different puter? Be our guest. But first wipe it off the original puter. The software does "phone home" so to speak. We don't care about customer's personal business. Or whether or not customer moves software once a year, once a month, or once a day. <Shrug> Customer's copy, do as yah like. But if TWO running copies with same identifier "phone home", we're gonna ask questions. Or if one copy "phones home" and has an identifier we have no record for. There are ways to defeat this, of course. I haven't done so, but could probably do it myself. But I won't.

Want to run software on 2 machines at same time? Buy 2 copies. There is a discount for this. Also site licenses for running many copies.

I'm guessing MS's system is not like this? Must be. My head is still hurting. But that's not at all unusual for us knuckle draggers. We're always behind the times and have trouble with new concepts. :-)

Am I being told I can copy, for instance, my original ... it has the holograms and everything, Windows XP CD and use it to restore/reinstall my wife's system, as long as we enter that code on the sticker on the side of her new puter? Granting it's the same version of Windows? And everything will be legite?

I appreciate everything everyone has said so far, and REALLY appreciate the patience you've had with this Neanderthal.

The COA is your "Proof of Purchase" along with an original disc. However, each CD has a unique "Product Key" that uniquely identifies that copy of Windows, different from "CD Key" which is global. Windows Product Activation takes a snapshot of your hardware, and ties that with your "Product Key" and sends it to Microsoft to make sure that that "Product Key" is not installed on another machine at the same time. If you did not receive a CD with your Wife's PC, then the OEM has the CD on the hard drive on a recovery partition, or possibly somewhere under the Windows Directory...

Now, with that being said, you should be able to tell that you cannot legally use one of your other CD's and install it on her machine, as the hardware is different, and therefore Microsoft would know it is installed on 2 machines at once.

The CD Keys that the original poster was talking about are CD Keys designed for Manufacturers to use that are publicly available to get Windows installed on the machine.

Who manufactured your wife's new machine? Perhaps one of us could help you locate the CD's files on the Hard Drive.

One indicator that the OEM used a recovery partition is if you have a choice when booting to pick Windows XP or something else, and the other is if, when you look at the Hard Drive total capacity in Windows, it looks _way_ off from what the manufacturer said the total capacity would be (IE manufacturer says it is a 300GB drive and Windows reports it as a 250GB drive) If it says 279 GB, then that is fine because that is what my 300GB drive shows as and mine was bought at a retail outlet.

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If it's a dell, then call dell. But you can not ghost a drive image from one system to another. The hardware is different and you'd be ghosting the registry info. The system will fail on boot. Get a product key viewer off the web (Like the program RockXP 4) use it to get your current key. Write it down then reinstall.

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Hi,

Just a personal recomendation with regard to backing up, I personally use DOS versions of Ghost or DriveImage. Others may disagree, but from the research I've done on the web and from various newsletters I've read by people who know wayyyyy more than me, the DOS versions of Ghost/DriveImage are virtually 'bulletproof' when it comes to making and restoring a corrupted O/S. This is the approach I've been using for the past 4-5 years. Being able to restore the O/S with all your settings, programs etc., within 10-20 minutes is almost miraculous, compared to 1+ hours re-installing just Windows!

Waywyrd :rolleyes:

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