Debbie Asks About Backing Up Her Windows XP Activation Code
I love reading your newsletter, it is full of information that I didn't know!  My question is, there is a way to back up the activation number in XP pro so you don't have to reactivate it if you have to format the hard drive?  I just can't remember how to do it and I lost my hard drive with the info on it.  Does anyone know how to do it? Thanks in advance.

It's easy to back up your Windows XP activation files (assuming you've already activated Windows XP once): Go to your C:\WINDOWS\System32\ folder and find a file called "wpa.dbl" and "wpa.bak". Now back those files up to a floppy, flash drive or CD-ROM. If you have a computer with more than one hard drive you can save those files to any drive but the drive to which you install Windows. When you want to restore these files go into safe mode and put them into your windows\system32 directory. When you reboot you should be activated without actually going through Microsoft. This also works with Windows XP Home and Windows XP Media Edition.

One thing, we want to mention here (since we just went through this): If you're having serious problems with Windows, you might want to try a couple things first before you resort to a full format of your Windows drive (usually C:).

The first thing you should try is doing a "repair" installation of Windows XP. You can do this by inserting your Windows XP CD-ROM into your CD drive and then shutting down your computer. When you restart your computer with the Windows CD in your CD drive, you'll be asked to "Press any key to boot from CD..." . So press any key and your computer will boot from the CD. It will go through a few minutes of scanning your computer and then you'll come to the installation screen. Choose "Install Windows XP". When you get to the next screen you'll be given the choice to press "R" to do a repair installation. You should try this first.

If the repair installation is unsuccessful (ours was but sometimes it's all you need to do) you can choose "Install a fresh copy of Windows XP". Choose the option to install Windows into your current Windows directory (usually C:\Windows). You'll get a warning that there's already an operating system installed (no! really?). Since you're going to format anyway, if all this doesn't work, choose to install to that folder anyway. Windows XP will begin to delete all the files and folders in your Windows directory. You'll also lose your "My Documents" folder and all your user account folders; it's a good idea to back up these folders before you start installing "a fresh copy of Windows". If you don't you'll lose them. All your other files and folders on your C: drive will remain intact - but since your registry will be wiped out by the Windows installation, most of the programs you have installed will not work (surprisingly, a few will still work) and your start menu will look the same as if you had formatted - very little on it.

The advantages of installing a "fresh copy of Windows" rather than formatting are these:

1. You don't have to "reactivate" Windows

2. Most of your files and folders are intact. While most of your programs won't work, you can reinstall them into the same folders they were in and most of the settings for each program that you had installed previously will be restored once you reinstall the program.

3. You don't have to get down on your hands and knees and break your back looking for the Windows registration key which is usually affixed to back of the computer case at very bottom where you either don't have enough light to read it, your glasses aren't strong enough to read it, or you have to pick up the computer case (usually pulling all the wires with it :-)) and twist it at odd angles to read the registration key. When you install a "fresh" copy of Windows you don't need to enter your registration key or activate Windows. (Most of this - is said tongue in cheek - you can get your Windows Office and Windows Keys easier by downloading a program from NirSoft called ProduKey and running it before you even begin the process of formatting or installing a "fresh" copy of Windows. Print a copy of your Windows and MS Office keys and save it somewhere you can find it. Don't do what TC does and put his "important" program installation CDs and Windows product keys in a "safe" place and then forget where this "safe place" is!

4. Installing a "fresh copy" of Windows usually works as well as a format and takes less time.

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