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Reformat a HDD and maintain product activation of a PC with a VLK?

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#1
E-66

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A local school upgraded their computers and sold off their old ones (Pentium 4, XP Pro, 40 GB HDD), and I bought one to give to my parents. The HDD is formatted as one large partition. My thought was to reformat & partition it the way I like to have a HDD set up, and then reinstall XP and use the product key it's currently using. I talked to someone at Microsoft and gave them the current product key and they said this wouldn't be possible. I don't completely understand how all the VLK stuff works, but I guess because I don't have the original VL media or something? I guess it won't work if I reinstall XP from my own CD and then use the current VL product key. I'm not trying to do anything illegal - the PC would still have all the same hardware... I just don't like the way the HDD is set up.

I don't know why I didn't think about this until after I was done talking to the rep from MS, but instead of reinstalling XP, what if I made a Norton Ghost image of the current install, and then reformatted and partitioned the HDD the way I want to and then restored the image to the 'new' C: partition? Would that work? I've used the DOS-mode Ghost 2003 for over 10 years and it's always worked perfectly for me, but I've never tried to use it in the way I just explained. Thoughts?

If the Ghost option won't work, what about one of the various 'partition manager' programs that are available?

Thanks for whatever help you can provide.

Edited by E-66, 04 May 2013 - 05:29 AM.



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#2
GrofLuigi

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I think Ghost would work.

GL

#3
Ponch

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If the MS guy did not tell, I won't tell either, but ... The VLK is probably used on top of an OEM license. The OEM license is tied to the PC and the VLK license is tied to the school. You can't "use" as in "reuse" the VLK license as you're not from the school. You're on the thin line here. Either you Ghost the partition to a smaller one or you could try to find out if the PC had an OEM preactivated install before it was reinstall by the school. What brand is it ? Does it have a sticker ?

#4
E-66

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Ponch, you kind of lost me with the VLK license on top of the OEM one. If they have 50 computers with OEM license(s), what is the purpose of the VLK on top of it/them? I don't understand the 'doubling up' of the licenses. Is it because the PCs would be being used in a professional context? (as opposed to a home user, I mean). Why not just have/use a VLK from the get-go?

To your other point, how would I find out if the PC had an OEM preactivated install before it was reinstalled by the school?

The PC is a Compaq Evo D510 CMT. I don't know what kind of BIOS it has. It doesn't say during boot nor when you're in the BIOS itself, and the options in the BIOS are pretty minimal compared to others I've seen. It does say this on the screen during boot:

Initializing Intel Boot Agent v4.1.08

PXE 2.1 Build 083 (WfW 2.0), RPL v2.74


Wikipedia just told me what 'PXE' is. I guess that's because the PC was a part of the school system's network, and I guess I can either shut that off or go into the BIOS and change the boot order. All of this is irrelevant to the reason for starting this topic, however.

I've done some Googling on restoring a Ghost image to a partition smaller than the one it was made from, and it 'might' work. That being said, I'm a little uneasy to try it because I don't want to end up with a boat anchor. I found a discussion on a Norton forum about using the Terabyte Unlimited BootIt partition manager program to resize the current partitions and avoid using ghost entirely (other than making a backup image after the partition resizing is done). It's mentioned in message 15 in this thread:

http://community.nor.../highlight/true

Any thoughts on trying to accomplish what I want by doing things that way instead of making a Ghost image of the current install?

Edited by E-66, 04 May 2013 - 01:18 PM.


#5
submix8c

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I have never heard of a school using anything but OEM computers as they usually purchased them in quantities at a special price. I seriously doubt you mean Volume License. The good guy/gal at MS probably understood that you gave him/her an OEM-type Product Key and indicated that it would not work with a Retail CD. Ponch has sufficiently described the "ties" of the two types of Keys you seem to be describing. And there should be (if I'm correct) a COA Sticker somewhere on -OR- inside (they sometimes "hid" them) the box.

In addition, IF I'm correct, there will be at least one Hidden Partition, maybe even two -OR- three. Get Gparted or a LiveLinux and boot to it to see the "hidden" ones (if any).

There ARE methods to creating an OEM-style CD but we can't really provide that here. You can find it on the WWW if you need to.

These may help understanding and provide some hints -
http://www.msfn.org/...-hdd-to-diy-pc/
http://www.msfn.org/...ws-xp-from-dvd/
http://www.msfn.org/...pre-activation/
http://www.msfn.org/...vation-utility/

edit - Hmmm - you posted before I did. I will "assume" XP Pro OEM is on it -
http://reviews.cnet....7-20719364.html
http://h18000.www1.h...a/11349_na.HTML

edit2 - may be no hidden partitions -
http://h30434.www3.h...MT/td-p/2532177

Edited by submix8c, 04 May 2013 - 01:46 PM.

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bphlpt

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I have never heard of a school using anything but OEM computers as they usually purchased them in quantities at a special price. I seriously doubt you mean Volume License. The good guy/gal at MS probably understood that you gave him/her an OEM-type Product Key and indicated that it would not work with a Retail CD.


I'm sure that schools, or school districts, do indeed purchase their computers in quantities at a special price, but my wife and I have each been involved, separately, with schools who did indeed use VLK licenses for their computers. It has been a few years, and it might not be common practice, either now or ever, but I have seen it done.

Cheers and Regards

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submix8c

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May be, but I find it "odd" that the school would sell a PC with a VLK and not "wipe" the HDD (SOP) whereas an OEM Install (plus COA) makes it irrelevant (maybe) depending on what it was used for (private school info e.g. used in the Office vs used in the classroom).

To answer the Ghost question specifically, YES you can do that but for a SPECIFIC partition "split", you'll need to
1 - Ghost Backup
2 - delete the larger
3 - define the smaller
4 - Ghost Restore
I would recommend using the Ghost Option "Image Boot" and a Full HDD Backup. You can restore just the single Partition from it.
After the Restore, you can proceed to create other Partitions within the Windows.

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bphlpt

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May be, but I find it "odd" that the school would sell a PC with a VLK and not "wipe" the HDD (SOP) [...]


I agree with this point completely. In fact, here locally, there was a huge flack raised a couple of years ago when a school systems sold some hard drives that they were no longer using that unfortunately still contained student personal info, SS numbers etc. The drives had been "erased" before being sold but you know how little good that really does. As a result of that, SOP here is now to never sell HD's, but rather destroy them, and any old computers that are sold have their HD's removed. Yes it seems a waste when the drives could have just been securely wiped and then sold, but after being burned once...

Cheers and Regards

Edited by bphlpt, 04 May 2013 - 03:10 PM.

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#9
E-66

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There isn't any private data on these PCs. I don't know what method they used, but they've been restored/re-imaged to 'almost' their initial condition. When looking through Explorer I saw some folders that wouldn't be there on a pristine install (like stuff for specific printer models and a few other things), but I deleted all that stuff.

Oh, and no hidden partitions, either.

#10
dencorso

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As to being "VLK" or not, that's easy: just right click on "My Computer" and select "Properties". You'll see a window like the pic attached. The "xxxxx-yyy-zzzzzzz-zzzzz" in it represents a number, known as MS Product ID (do not post your machine's full MS PID), of which the "yyy" part is the Channel ID. Now, any Channel ID begining with 6 (usually from 640 to 652) should mean "VLK". Just give it a look and you'll know for sure.

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#11
E-66

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That was easy. It's 640 = VLK.

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dencorso

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That was easy. It's 640 = VLK.

Sure. That settles it. And, BTW, submix8c is right, Ghost can do it right. But, just to stay on the safe side, before proceeding, do use something like Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder v1.5, or your favorite key retriever software, to retrieve and save the product key, just in case.

#13
allen2

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Then the school shouldn't have let all those computer go without formating (at least) the hard drives as the VLK license is tied to the school and giving the computer with the vlk license is ususally forbidden in those public corporations.
If the computer comes with an OEM XP Sticker, you should be able to easily reinstall after finding an HP XP media CD/ iso (or after creating it from other XP media).
But to answer the question, the fastest way to resize/move/change partition scheme would be booting to a Gparted live CD and modify the partitions scheme with it. My favorite Live CD with Gparted is systemrescueCD but you could use almost any live CD with gparted.

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E-66

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But, just to stay on the safe side, before proceeding, retrieve and save the product key, just in case.

Yes, I did that last week before I called Microsoft to ask them about doing what I wanted to do. The rep told me it wouldn't work. So I have the product key, but in your 'just in case' scenario, what is having it going to do for me?


Then the school shouldn't have let all those computer go without formatting (at least) the hard drives as the VLK license is tied to the school and giving the computer with the vlk license is usually forbidden in those public corporations.

The school's name shows when I right click on My Computer and do a Properties. I don't know what to say about it. I can't say I'm surprised by it though, the way people do things these days.


If the computer comes with an OEM XP Sticker...

I don't know what to think now. I went and checked the case and it has a Windows 2000 Pro sticker on it.

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dencorso

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But, just to stay on the safe side, before proceeding, retrieve and save the product key, just in case.

Yes, I did that last week before I called Microsoft to ask them about doing what I wanted to do. The rep told me it wouldn't work. So I have the product key, but in your 'just in case' scenario, what is having it going to do for me?

I'm sorry! I should have read your 1st post more carefully. :blushing:
As it is, the answer to your question is: nothing much.

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Ponch

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To sum it up,
Your box was sold with an OEM Windows 2000 Pro license
the school bought a VLK upgrade license which allow them to install XP on a given amount of machine without having to activate (that's the point of VLK, it is not double license, it's the key to do those "activation-less" install).
The school sold the machine as is and without install media, that's two mistakes.

You're left with either
-reinstall Windows 2000 if you own (or buy, or borrow, but ...officially ...not copy it) a Win2000 media. Using the key on the sticker or finding the pre-activated key for Compaq Win2000 Pro and a Compaq Media that goes with it. Good luck with that.
-keep the actual install as a Ghost image as backup and if you feel the need to, shrink the partition. Ghost and GPartEd are 2easy solutions. Ghost is more secure IMHO and probably faster. GParted is free.
Keep in mind that a normal XP install would need at least 15 of those 40Gig if you don't want the PC to crawl on a full partition within 3 years. Being a Windows 2000 box it will be a ~1GHz machine with probably 256Meg of RAM if not less.

#17
E-66

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Thanks for the additional info, Ponch. I have a better understanding of the 'license stuff' now.

Since I'm more familiar with Ghost I'm going to give that a try first. It's a pretty spartan install of XP. I think Office was installed on it at one point, but there are no signs of it now, and my parents don't need it anyway. Total disk usage on the machine (including the page file) is around 2.5 GB, so I should be fine, space-wise. All that's getting installed on it is Firefox, Sandboxie, and CCleaner, and I'll be moving My Documents to a different partition. This is just going to be a PC for them to use for e-mail & web browsing.

Oh, and it's a 2.4 GHz P4 with 512 MB of RAM. A local PC shop sells used 1 MB DDR chips for $8, so I'll add one of those as well.

#18
submix8c

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A couple of things -

1 - The Key is of value if you wish to "construct" a CD from HDD contents
* - see my given links
2 - The School should NEVER have allowed THEIR key to be released
* - discussed enough
3 - It MAY have been "somebody" attempting to "Fix" (or upgrade) a Win2000 install
* - therefore, it may NOT have been School Approved in the first place
4 - "Total Disk Usage=2.5gb" - betting that Install Folder (I386) doesn't exist
* - therefore (see below) you would need a CD for #1 above

For fun, to confirm whether it's the School's or a "pirated", you could do a WWW search on it. If it's found at all, it may/may not even be a GOOD install (hacked components). Be aware that "hacked" ones may/may-not allow Updates or tolerate a GOOD Antivirus. If it indeed is the School's (not on the www), you walk on shaky ground.

Just sayin'...

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Or don't be paranoid.

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I have never heard of a school using anything but OEM computers as they usually purchased them in quantities at a special price. I seriously doubt you mean Volume License. The good guy/gal at MS probably understood that you gave him/her an OEM-type Product Key and indicated that it would not work with a Retail CD. Ponch has sufficiently described the "ties" of the two types of Keys you seem to be describing. And there should be (if I'm correct) a COA Sticker somewhere on -OR- inside (they sometimes "hid" them) the box.


The education sector is confusing to say the least. There are upgrade pathways where a school may enter an agreement with an OEM to purchase 1 OS but install a different one. Purchasing the license is required, and the OEM COA would be on the PC but the OS installed wouldn't really match. I think its a cost savings for the school to do it this way. One method is to use an Open License. An example would be to say the school would buy 300 PCs from an OEM with XP Home. Then using the upgrade path they actually install say XP Pro VLK. The only difference is that the PCs would not (or should not, that is) have any special OEM BIOS stuff in it, it should be stock. That is so that recovery media from the OEM wouldn't activate on the PC (they could use the COA and phone it in I guess) but also the school doesn't receive recovery media anyways. This is also valid for Windows 7 and Office 2007, maybe others but those are the only ones I've dealt with.
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#21
E-66

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Just thought I'd update my progress....

I used Ghost 2003 to image the C: drive, then used Norton's Gdisk (Norton's version of Fdisk) to partion the HDD the way I wanted to. Installed the HDD in a working XP system to format it, then put it back in its original case, booted to Ghost and restored the image file to the now smaller C; drive, and everything worked perfectly.

I was a little hesitant to try it because of the trouble someone else had in trying to do the same thing (mentioned in the link in post #4. He tried it and the re-image kept hanging at 99%), but it has worked without a glitch for me.

Thanks for all the replies and efforts to help.

Next on the list: trying to figure out how to disable the PXE/network boot thing that adds at least 30 seconds to the overall boot time. I've been through the BIOS a dozen times but no change I've made has made any difference.

#22
submix8c

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Just remove/disable it from/in the Boot Order screen in BIOS.

Odd that USUALLY there's somewhere to Disable the Network Boot. It won't SPECIFICALLY say PXE since many Network Boot Firmware will have both RPL and PXE as methods.

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#23
E-66

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Just remove/disable it from/in the Boot Order screen in BIOS.

I've tried, but it doesn't work. I've Googled about it and it seems to be an issue others have had too.

What about resetting the BIOS with the motherboard jumper and/or removing the battery? Is it possible that with the type of PC I have (former school PC) that some BIOS settings have been password protected?

#24
submix8c

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If you can get into the BIOS, it's not password protected. You don't have to enter one to go into it do you? Nothing gets "hidden" because of a PWD (AFAIK)...

F10 = BIOS Setup
F12 = Network Service Boot <-Does that work/have anything in it?

AH! Found it! MAYBE "F12" allows for directly accessing... I found the BIOS Setup Manual. Get it here for free (just a CAPTCHA to enter) -
http://www.manualowl...Download/107300
According to it, under the heading "Security" is

Network Service Boot Enables/disables the computer’s ability to boot from an operating system installed on a network server. (Feature available on NIC models only; the network controller must reside on the PCI bus or be embedded on the system board.)

Also note that AFAIK to enter the actual Intel Boot Agent use Ctrl+S (mine does that) to change any "options" - BEWARE of setting too low a "Time To Display Message" (I leave mine at 3 sec.).

Edited by submix8c, 12 May 2013 - 01:15 PM.

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#25
E-66

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I've had F12 disabled in the BIOS, but it didn't make a difference.

You can hit Ctrl+S to get to the Intel Boot Agent setup, and I've messed with the limited options there, also to no avail.

Network Boot Protocol: PXE or RPL (remote program load)

Boot Order:
Use BIOS Boot Order (this is the only choice, and the order I selected is HDD first, CD-ROM second, network disabled)

Show Setup Prompt: Disabled

Setup Menu Wait Time: 0 seconds

Legacy OS Wakeup Support: Disabled

Nothing has worked. It insists on looking for a way to boot from a network and adds 33 seconds to the boot time. After it gives up and goes to the HDD it boots up right away. On the "Windows XP" screen the moving blue dots only go across the screen 1 time and then right to the desktop.

It's not that big a deal. It bothers me more than it will my parents, but I'd like to eliminate the delay anyway.


Edit: You edited your post while I was composing ;)

The F9, F10, & F12 options in the BIOS only seem to change whether or not you see F9, F10, & F12 on the screen during boot. Their functions work whether you see them or not. It seems like F12 is being held down automatically during POST! As far as what you quoted, the Network Service Boot, I've had that disabled since the day I got the PC... still no change.

Edited by E-66, 12 May 2013 - 01:35 PM.





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