Did you know that if you do a complete reinstall of the software on your PC, you will need the product license keys (or serial/registration information) for the software that you had paid for?
For example, products such as Microsoft Office, Nero, Windows (to name a few) require license keys in order to install the product, no matter how many times you end up installing them. I know from my experience with helping others on their PCs, when it came time to reinstall a licensed product (that they had purchased) there were occasions where they could not locate any documentation that contained the license keys or registration numbers. They either was unaware of the licensing process or simply forgot where they placed the CD or documentation that contained the key. In some instances this can result in a loss of hundreds of dollars.
In the event you cannot locate your product keys or licenses, there are several FREE solutions (listed below) that may be helpful; however, it is important that you take advantage of them prior to your PC becoming inoperable. I currently use all three of these apps, in combo, to make sure I capture everything.
The first solution is an app called LicenseCrawler. License Crawler is a portable app that requires no installation. Simply download and run the application; however, you will need admin rights to run LicenseCrawler. When you run LicenseCrawler, it literally will crawl (scan) your computer’s registry for the license keys. LicenseCrawler will harvest and list any application product keys and other serial numbers or license keys very quickly, and supports all versions of Windows operating system from Windows 95 to Windows Vista. LicenseCrawler has the ability (and option) built-in to scan various areas of the Windows registry to gather the information.
The second solution is ProduKey (by NirSoft). ProduKey, also a portable app, serves the same purpose as License Crawler, with the exception it scans your PC for the license keys for Microsoft based products (such as Microsoft Office and Windows).
The third solution is an application called SIW -System Information for Windows. This app, also available in a portable version, is actually a tool that gathers detailed information about your system properties and settings and displays the results in a comprehensible manner. One of the categories which it gathers information, is a category for license keys.
The whole point to this article is to make you aware that if your PC goes south, you will need those product keys and licenses to reinstall your software. If you currently have your license keys keep them in a safe place for future reference and to prevent the keys from being stolen. If you do not have the keys, take the time to try these apps to recover what you have paid for.