Windows 10 reinstall help needed

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sydney
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Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sydney »

My cousin has asked me to look at her laptop for her. It's an aspire 1 A114-31-C3FW. The problem she has is the 32gb emmc drive is full mainly with Windows, files that appear to be from a failed windows update and the OEM recovery software.
What feels like the easiest solution to me is to save any files she wants kept and to reformat the drive and reinstall from an ISO downloaded from Microsoft. I've extracted her product key and I'm wondering if this OEM key will activate windows 10 download from Microsoft. Any advice? Other than put Linux on it as that was my first suggestion that she declined.
Cheers.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by ash73 »

Magical Jellybean Keyfinder will get you the right key.

https://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder/
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by ChrisB »

If she signed into a Microsoft account (which is the default for Windows 10) windows should recognise the hardware as being digitally licensed - there should be no need for a key.

I'd normally suggest an in place upgrade rather than full install - but the 32GB drive may be an issue.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by vanekp »

you best would be to make a bootable install on DVD or a USB stick and reinstall windows 10 from scratch and you can do the wiping of the drive with the install, being a 32Gb you best bet is a compete install don't try a upgrade it will not fit, and it should pick up the key automatically when it connects to the Internet in my experience.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sP1d3r »

If you search 'w10 media creation tool' and go to the Microsoft download page and choose the options to make the tool with your version of Windows you'll have a bootable installer on a usb flash drive, 16GB minimum size for the usb drive.

The installation will install drivers from Windows update itself but if you have the drivers and know the correct sequence you can install them 'offline', storage drivers are needed during the setup before the install ('load driver' option).
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sydney »

Thanks for all the help, it now has nice (maybe not!) fresh install of windows 10.
The C: drive was completely full, 0 bytes free. Every time I made space it tried to continue updating and filled it back up. I disconnected from the internet to stop that happening. I tried running the recovery software but there wasn't enough space on the drive for it to make enough space on the drive! I created an install usb and used it to remove all the partitions from the drive giving me an extra Gb and reinstalled, then installed some updates. There is currently 4 Gb free on the drive. I'll get her to use linux eventually!
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by AlanD »

Hi Sydney
I had exactly the same problem in the end I installed the 32 bit version of Windows 10 it left me an extra 10GB of free space

Regards

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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sydney »

That's a good idea and I might end up using it when she next needs help with it. I had a good chat with her when I dropped it off and it's her son that mainly uses it for college. It turns out he only uses Google, the online version of office 365 and Gmail so I've suggested next time I stick Linux on it instead as there will probably be almost 25gb free and he'll still be able to use it in exactly the same way. They all have Android phones so are using Linux already really.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by JasonStonier »

I do clean installs of Win 10 tens of times a year (IT support for a charity) and I've never once had a problem with picking up the digital licence from Microsoft.

Only caveat is that the machine has to have been signed in at Microsoft with someone's M$ account, then the digital licence for the machine will register it automatically when it goes online. I have a specific account I use to sign machines in before I wipe, if needed, and then I sign the machine in with the same account on reinstall. Once it's all up and registered, you can create local admin accounts and that online account can be deleted from the machine.

I used the Microsoft Windows 10 Media Creation Tool to make a bootable USB, and have used the same stick for a couple of years now.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sydney »

I only have Linux on my two machines now which makes running the media creation tool problematic. I ended up disconnecting for the internet, creating approximately 100mb of space on the laptops drive to stop it constantly crashing, copying the iso to one usb stick and using Rufus to write it to another usb stick.
Windows has been gone from my machines for a while now as my PC's are a bit long in the tooth and they crawl with Windows on them.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by JasonStonier »

sydney wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 2:07 pm
I only have Linux on my two machines now...
Very sensible, too.

I think PCs are like air conditioning - they work fine until you open windows.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

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JasonStonier wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 1:45 pm
Only caveat is that the machine has to have been signed in at Microsoft with someone's M$ account, then the digital licence for the machine will register it automatically when it goes online.
My main PC is running Windows 10 Pro, the license is from MSDN which was associated with my Microsoft account. That Microsoft account was revoked a couple of years ago, Microsoft wouldn't explain why just that it had been used against their terms and conditions, probably hacked, and it's impossible to actually talk to anyone about it. So I lost my main email account of 20 years, losing various contacts and email history, do not trust Hotmail!
Anyway, the PC is still linked to this invalid Hotmail account that I cannot sign into, fortunately I sign in to Windows with a PIN. It obviously constantly wants me to fix the Microsoft account, but I can't as it no longer exists, and you can't remove the account without being able to sign into it. If I were to reinstall Windows 10 Pro would it reactivate without being signed into the Microsoft account? I also no longer have MSDN access to can't simply get another license.
I was permanently locked out of another laptop that used the same account and had to lose anything on there and reinstall from scratch, but that was Home and not Pro.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by JasonStonier »

Pernod wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 3:02 pm
If I were to reinstall Windows 10 Pro would it reactivate without being signed into the Microsoft account?
That is beyond my knowledge, I'm afraid. What I know, I've picked up by doing - so I have big gaps.

If it were me, I'd throw a new drive in there and do a fresh install to the new drive and see what happens - that way you can roll back to the old drive if you need to. I've got hundreds (well, definitely tens) of 2.5" laptop drives if you want one for free.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sP1d3r »

:o :shock: I think I'd try to create another Microsoft account using an outlook.com email address.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by Pernod »

JasonStonier wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 3:30 pm
If it were me, I'd throw a new drive in there and do a fresh install to the new drive and see what happens - that way you can roll back to the old drive if you need to. I've got hundreds (well, definitely tens) of 2.5" laptop drives if you want one for free.
That's not a bad idea, have a few old drives knocking around to test with. It's actually on a SSD, so also a good excuse to upgrade it's capacity if all goes well.
sP1d3r wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 3:59 pm
:o :shock: I think I'd try to create another Microsoft account using an outlook.com email address.
I have created another account, but am reluctant to use it to sign in when they can revoke it at any time without any notice or explanation, which would lock me out of my computers. Since losing the account I've missed various events due to old friends not being able to contact me, missed subscription renewals, had to change forum emails, utility sign-ins, etc. Also almost lost holidays booking details and flight boarding passes that were in my email account, but were fortunately still cached in my Outlook desktop app.
Managing to have a Microsoft account that is actually your name nowadays is a rarity, I had one for almost 20 years, but no more. Now have to litter it with random numbers.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by guesser »

As I understand it the license is tied to the hardware, not your Microsoft account (which isn't required at all if you don't use the "store").
If you pop a blank drive in and do a fresh install using the media creation tool it should just recognise the hardware and activate itself.
I've not had to reinstall a Windows 10 system yet though, so haven't tried it personally!
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by JasonStonier »

guesser wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 4:41 pm
As I understand it the license is tied to the hardware, not your Microsoft account...
That's correct insofar as it is tied to the hardware, but to store the digital licence in the first place I believe you have to have signed in to Microsoft - again, not an expert so I may be wrong, but I'm surmising this from experience having upgraded about 30 laptops to SSD in the last year: there have been a small number that wouldn't pick up a digital licence until I put the old drive back in, signed in with my own account, then reversed the procedure with the new drive installed.

Once the licence is established at M$, you can log in the new installation with a different account and it will still find the licence.

YMMV though, and I have noted a real inconsistency in how the very-same USB stick installs differently on different laptops: some allowing me during install to create a local admin and activate windows, and some requiring me to sign in during install with my M$ account.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by guesser »

JasonStonier wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 7:27 pm
YMMV though, and I have noted a real inconsistency in how the very-same USB stick installs differently on different laptops: some allowing me during install to create a local admin and activate windows, and some requiring me to sign in during install with my M$ account.
Bizarre!

I've just been told on Discord that they've made it almost impossible to create a local account in the latest version of the installer without jumping through ridiculous hoops now too #-o
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sydney »

I couldn't find a way to install it without a Microsoft account but have been able to do n the past. My download was of the October 2020 update so maybe that's when it changed.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

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They were saying you have to remove/disable all network adapters to make it appear now :shock:
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by JasonStonier »

guesser wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:13 pm
They were saying you have to remove/disable all network adapters to make it appear now :shock:
Maybe that's it - something to do with when the WiFi card driver gets loaded during the install - if there's an active connection you have to log in, otherwise you can make a local account. Maybe. Who knows - maybe Bill Gates's army of chipped octogenarians can offer some insights.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by markjw »

JasonStonier wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:22 pm
guesser wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:13 pm
They were saying you have to remove/disable all network adapters to make it appear now :shock:
Maybe that's it - something to do with when the WiFi card driver gets loaded during the install - if there's an active connection you have to log in, otherwise you can make a local account. Maybe. Who knows - maybe Bill Gates's army of chipped octogenarians can offer some insights.
I've installed a few machines recently with 2004 and 20H2 builds - found if you want a local account, do not connect to ethernet and when prompted for connecting to wifi click the link at the bottom that says 'I do not have internet' - you can then confirm you don't want to connect and it will let you create a local account. Once it gets to the Windows desktop you can connect to the internet as normal.

Additionally for licensing I have found the following:
(a) if the machine came with Windows 7 and was upgraded to Windows 10 then when prompted for a product key click 'I do not have a key' then pick the correct version of Windows 10 (Home / Pro) - after install it will automatically activate using the hardware ID.
(b) if it came with Windows 8/8.1/10 then it should automatically detect the BIOS key and not ask - if it does, click 'I do not have a key' and pick the correct version - it should activate itself when the install finishes (only seen this on a couple of machines)

Both the above hold true even if you don't initially connect the machine to the internet so you can set a local account - it will just active automatically once it sees a working internet connection
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by guesser »

markjw wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:35 pm
(a) if the machine came with Windows 7 and was upgraded to Windows 10 then when prompted for a product key click 'I do not have a key' then pick the correct version of Windows 10 (Home / Pro) - after install it will automatically activate using the hardware ID.
Hopefully that also holds true for systems that have had a clean install activated with the Windows 7 key too if I ever need to re-install this one :)
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by Boydie »

guesser wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:40 pm

Hopefully that also holds true for systems that have had a clean install activated with the Windows 7 key too if I ever need to re-install this one :)
Has done for every (re-)install I’ve done up to this summer, which is a lot. All of them done originally with Win7 keys, or pre-installed oem 7.
The activation server just recognises the motherboard id the first time the new install contacts Windows Update. Even worked for a second-hand board I got from a charity shop!
It even works on a 10 year old laptop and motherboards of first-gen I7 vintage.
The only time I’ve needed to tie a key to my (never used) Microsoft account was to transfer it from an old machine to a complete new build. Otherwise I never use it.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sP1d3r »

Windows 7 has still MSE updates from WU and it can still be installed and activated.
I recently installed and activated W7Pro on my Dell laptop but whereas during the W7 active support period after Windows installation the install connects to Windows update, now it may not be able to do this.

I had to install a couple of updates before the installation could connect but after this it was as before.
I only install updates for Windows and not hardware on first connection, once Windows is fully installed the drivers can be installed. I don't know if this applies to UEFI computers but it seems to apply to legacy computers.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by sP1d3r »

I found also that W10 is a lot more particular about what you try to run on it than W7.
If you don't have the installer for the particular version of Windows 10 that you have installed (the exact build) and it becomes superceded from Windows update, you'll be unable to use the DISM to repair a Windows installation because the component store files will be unavailable. With the installer iso you can specify the iso as the source for the component store files, BTW FWIW.
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Re: Windows 10 reinstall help needed

Post by markjw »

guesser wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:40 pm
markjw wrote:
Mon Jan 04, 2021 9:35 pm
(a) if the machine came with Windows 7 and was upgraded to Windows 10 then when prompted for a product key click 'I do not have a key' then pick the correct version of Windows 10 (Home / Pro) - after install it will automatically activate using the hardware ID.
Hopefully that also holds true for systems that have had a clean install activated with the Windows 7 key too if I ever need to re-install this one :)
yes - once you have installed Windows 10 either as an upgrade from Windows 7 or as a clean install using a Windows 7/8 key then you should not need to use the key again to do a clean re-install (just click I don't have a key and choose the version)
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