Imagine this scenario: You have a brand new PC rig, ready to be set up and filled with all the necessary software. However, there comes a moment of disappointment when you realize that you have misplaced or lost the critical CD key required for the installation process. It’s frustrating to be in, as you are now left wondering about the next steps to take. So, what options do you have in this challenging predicament?
Also Read: 5 uses for Old Android and iOS Devices.
How can you get what you need?
It is a common problem with various solutions. Fortunately, multiple methods exist to retrieve the codes depending on your Windows version and the software key you need to recover.
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Losing CD keys and codes can be frustrating, but there are several methods to retrieve them easily, depending on the software you need to recover. Here are a few ways to retrieve lost CD keys and codes:
- Check the physical packaging: If you have the original packaging for the software, check for any stickers, cards, or booklets that may contain the CD key or code. Sometimes they are printed on the manual or on a separate card included in the package.
- Search your email inbox: If you purchased the software online, search your email inbox for any purchase confirmations or receipts. The CD key or code may be included in the email.
- Contact the software provider: If you cannot find the CD key or code through the above methods, reach out to the software provider’s customer support. Provide them with any proof of purchase you have and they may be able to assist you in retrieving the key or providing a new one.
- Use key finder software: Key finder programs are available that can help recover lost CD keys and codes. These programs scan your computer’s registry and other locations to find stored keys. Examples of popular key finder software include Belarc Advisor and Product Key Finder.
- Check digital distribution platforms: If you purchased the software through a digital distribution platform like Steam, Blizzard, or Origin, log in to your account on that platform and check your library. The software may be tied to your account and can be reinstalled without needing the CD key or code.
Remember, keeping your CD keys and codes in a secure place is essential to avoid losing them in the future.
For Windows OS
You may find the important alphanumeric string in three possible locations.
The first is in your PC’s registry:
When you (or the manufacturer) install Windows on any computer, the OS stores its product key in the registry. It will be encrypted, but there are programs to decode it. As long as the hard drive is functional, it doesn’t matter if the PC won’t boot. You can have another device to read the hard drive to get what you need. This method is also for Windows versions 7 and older.
The second is a holographic sticker on your PC:
It’s more common for laptops and ready-made CPUs to have this. An unfortunate downside to these stickers is that they’re prone to erasure by friction or wear and tear over time. Now that you know, it would be best to take a photo of these stickers as soon as possible for future use. Just be sure to store the photo in a safe storage device.
The third is in the UEFI firmware:
It’s more common in the more recent versions of Windows (8 and 10). The user doesn’t have to know the key. It will automatically install if you’re installing the same OS version.
It’s convenient, but it also locks the key to that device only.
For Microsoft Office Software
Several key finder apps can find the whole CD key of any MS Office software older than 2010. So you can try using those for the more recent versions. The only downside to this method is it will only find the last five characters of the key.
Why? Microsoft changed its anti-piracy policies, which led to the change in the storage of these codes.
As for the more recent versions, the best-case scenario is a legal purchase from Microsoft’s online store or retail. Otherwise, an Office 365 subscription will also do. With the last five characters obtained through key finder apps, you can search your email inbox or electronic documentation for it. A subscription removes the necessity for the code. You may log in to your Microsoft account to reinstall the program for retail. Even if you lost the key, if you registered the software beforehand, you can view it. The last option is to ask Microsoft for another key. Make sure you’ve prepared proof of purchase before taking that option.
For Video Games
Having a Steam, Blizzard, Origin, or Uplay account helps to recover lost games. All you have to do is log into the respective account and reinstall it. The problem is if you bought the disc before any of those were in effect. Some services have a feature where you can register the software you purchased a physical copy of. So even if you lost the disc, you could still reinstall it as long as you remember your account details.
If you got your game in more convenient and cheaper ways, you can use key generators and key finder apps. They’re the easiest ways to get what you need. You might not even have to download anything else, as one usually accompanies the download.
So there you have it! Now, you need not panic as you know your options should physical copies of keys and codes get lost or inadvertently destroyed.
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