XP recovery disc / product code

Discussion in 'Windows XP Installation and Setup' started by C B Weisbrot, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. C B Weisbrot

    C B Weisbrot

    Nov 7, 2013
    Likes Received:
    I have an old 2006 Dell XP desktop which I just love, but it did not come with a recovery disc.
    Now that Windows XP is no longer supported, I would like to be able to re-install Windows XP if I ever have to.

    When I purchased the computer - this notice was included :
    Your new computer does not require an OS CD or drivers CD. Instead, if you ever need to reinstall your software, us one of the following methods.
    1)Microsoft Windows System Restore returns your computer to an earlier operating state.....
    2)Dell PC Restore and Norton Ghost 10 (optional) provide you with advanced restore capabilities.
    I have never had any success in using the Restore functions for minor gaffs - they always tell me they were unsuccessful (have no idea why)

    I can purchase XP OS discs online, but all of them say a product key is needed. There is no sticker on the back of the computer with a product key on it.

    I have read various things online:
    Dell has the product key infused into the motherboard, so a product key is not needed. Is this true?
    Would I be able to use a generic OS disc purchased online with the original motherboard?
    What if I get a new motherboard?
    Can I use an outside program to determine the key? If, so, which one?
    And what about drivers? Do you need to install those too?

    I did find a tutorial on how to create a recovery disc: To do this, click Start> All Programs> Dell Accessories> Dell OS Recovery CD, but my computer only has a driver reset tool in Dell Accessories.

    Basically, I want a Windows XP disc that I can use in case something goes disastrously wrong, and I want to be able to install it without difficulties. Drivers too.
    I have an external backup drive which I assume would handle restoration of all my files, photos etc., if need be, once I reinstall their various programs.

    So - no recovery disc, no product code, no idea what to do about drivers. How to proceed?
    C B Weisbrot, Jan 6, 2018
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  2. C B Weisbrot


    Dec 10, 2012
    Likes Received:
    product code for activation on a dell, you can do the following and that will take care of activation after install:

    Create the Activation Status

    Navigate to system32 folder.

    Copy the wpa.dbl and wpa.bak files

    Reinstall XP in the normal manner

    Restart the computer and use the F8 key to bring up the Advanced Boot Options

    Select Minimal Safe Mode using Up and Down Arrow Keys and press Enter.

    Navigate to system32 folder.

    Rename the existing wpa.dbl and wpa.bak files.

    Copy the previously backed up wpa.dbl and wpa.bak files to the system32 folder.

    Reboot the computer.


    as for recovery, if the drive has never been wiped then there is a recovery section on the drive, you can look at disk management and see if it shows (start /right click on My Computer/ choose manage / disk management will be listed on the left hand side), Give me the make, model, model number ( for example: mine: dell dimension 3000), then I can give you a link to the driver downloads for your pc and if you have a sticker on there with an express code it can be input into the website for drivers particular to your pc, there will also be a pdf of your manual and it will give you instructions on how to access the recovery drive, on my pc I would press F11 for access, but I wiped my drive long ago as my pc came with an install cd and I have slipstreamed sp3 onto it.

    NOTE: do not go online with this pc until you have an antivirus and sp3 and ie8 installed.


    As for a generic install cd, if you have purchased a cd it will come with a product key and that is the one you will use, however to use the product key that came with the pc, (which is good as long as you have not changed the motherboard) you would have to have an OEM, (dell) install cd that is the same as the OS that you have installed, for instance you could not install xp pro if the pc came with xp home, note: this is only if you are going to get an oem cd from anyone to install on your pc. the product keys on OEM pcs are tied to the motherboard of the pc.


    since you do not have a coa sticker on your pc, there are programs that say they will get your product key but this will not be the product key that would have shown on the coa sticker it is a generic volume licensing key given to dell for resell. if you use the above method to copy the wpa.dbl files and place them in your new install and have used an oem cd identical to your installed OS, you would not need a product key, install would activate online with no problem, this is how I do all my reinstalls.

    For added insurance, check the dell folder on your c: drive either in program files or on the root and write down all the drivers that are installed, audio, internet, video, modem , chipset...etc, they will be an Rxxxxxxx number and this way when you download the drivers from dell you will know that you have the right ones. and you should be able to copy the entire folder to a flash drive or cd for safekeeping. The only drivers not in that file are ones that show up in the add/remove section of the control panel.


    please, relay all the requested info and ask any further questions :)
    Elizabeth23, Jan 6, 2018
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  3. C B Weisbrot


    Dec 31, 2017
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    1) System Restore is not reliable. Recovery Partition placed on the hard drive by the manufacturer works ok, but it installs all the bloat that you got when you bought the computer (free trial of some old antivirus program, old MS Office free trial, etc).

    The proper backup solution is to get a disk imaging application. It just takes a few minutes to restore Windows XP from an image file and this kind of backup is very reliable. I have Acronis True Image installed in BartPE on another partition on the second disk (you can also have it on a flash drive or a CD). Acronis is a commercial application, a free alternative would be Clonezilla (but you would need to learn a few Linux commands to run it). There are some other similar programs, when you do the research make sure to check their reliability record. Incremental backup functionality is a bonus (the lack of it is the only drawback of Clonezilla).



    2) In your case it would make sense to create a second NTFS partition on the hard disk and install a new clean XP next to the old one in a dual-boot configuration. This way you would keep your old installation intact and then slowly work on the new one. You could even include POSReady updates available all the way to 2017-Dec-22. And later you could add Windows-7 (and make it a triple-boot configuration). There are some instructions how to do it at the link below.

    I have three different builds of XP on one of my machines, two XPs + Win7 on another, and it all works like a charm. And I also have all kinds of Linux distros, but that's a different story. Here is the link:

    Lex24, Jan 7, 2018
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