Sooner or later, almost any user has had to face the task of completely formatting the computer and installing the software from scratch, starting with the operating system. For years, a key is required to activate Windows 10 But what happens if we have lost it? In this article we will review the different options that exist to recover it.

Recover Windows 10 key from motherboard

If your computer came with Windows 10 pre-installed, the activation key is associated with the computer and stored in the non-volatile memory of the motherboard. Follow the steps below to recover it:

Install Windows 10 in the usual way.
On the enter password screen, click Skip and let the installation process complete.
Once finished and when Windows 10 starts click on Settings> Update and security
In the Activation tab you should see that Windows 10 is already activated correctly.

Retrieve the Windows 10 key associated with a Microsoft account

If, as recommended, you had the activation key linked to your Microsoft account, you only have to follow the following steps to recover and activate the system:

Install Windows 10 in the normal way and skip the step of entering license key.
In create account, use the Microsoft account associated with the key (usually the one you used in the previous installation).
Complete the installation and verify in the Activation tab that the system is activated.

Recover Windows 10 key using recovery tool

If your computer came with Windows 10 pre-installed, it includes an OEM key that you can easily recover. Follow the next steps:

Install Windows 10 in the usual way and skip the step of entering the license key.
Once the system boots, install and recover the key with Produckey. The best place to download it is the official website of the developer (it appears as unsafe, but don’t panic). In this article you have more options.
Produckey can detect the key associated with the motherboard or the one included in the recovery partition used by some manufacturers. Once you have it, write it down in a safe place.
Go to Settings> Update & security> Activation. Enter the above password on this screen and you will see that Windows 10 activates correctly.

Recover Windows 10 key from Microsoft store

If you have purchased the key in the Microsoft Store you can follow these steps to recover it. The process is similar if you have purchased it from Amazon or through other sellers who usually send it by email or keep the order record.

Sign in to the Microsoft Store from this link.
Go to Order History, top right.
Select Windows 10 and click to show the key. If you have problems, you will also find the access to request help from Microsoft.
Once you have it, install Windows 10, skip the step of entering the password and go to Settings> Update and security> Activation

Recover Windows 10 key from Windows 7/8 / 8.1

For many users, Windows 10 was a free upgrade from an earlier system. If you had a valid Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key the new version was automatically activated, so you may not have a Windows 10 key. You have several options to recover it:

Test your old key, it will probably work. If you don’t have it signed, look for the sticker on your laptop or on the back of your team’s tower.
Skip the activation step, Windows 10 may detect that you have a previous key on the recovery partition or motherboard and allow you to activate Windows 10.
Use ProducKey to recover your Windows 10 key if you upgraded from a previous system.

As you can see, there are options to recover a lost key, but it is recommended to write it down and keep it in a secret and safe place. Thus, you will not depend on third-party services or solutions to format your computer and install Windows 10 whenever you need it.

And what happens if we change the hardware?

As we have seen, Microsoft has modified the activation of system licenses in Windows 10. Compared to the use of the classic alphanumeric series, Windows 10 connects to the company’s servers and activates the system on each specific computer, assigning it a “Digital license”. A simpler method, but what happens if we modify the hardware of the equipment?

In those cases of major hardware change (it usually only happens if we change the motherboard) we will lose that activation. But it has a solution in two ways:

If you have a digital license. You will need to add your Microsoft account first and link it to the device’s digital license. After linking your Microsoft account, run the activation troubleshooter to reactivate Windows 10.
If you don’t have a digital license. If Windows 10 didn’t come pre-installed on your device when you purchased it and you used a product key to upgrade to Windows 10, you’ll need that same product key after the hardware change.

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