How to recover a Windows license key and determine if it can be reused on another PC?

Restore the Windows license key from your old PC and check in a few seconds if it can be reused to install Windows on a new machine.

Your current PC is running out and you are planning to invest in a new machine? Before you consider purchasing a new Windows license, it may be possible to reuse the one you used on your old PC to activate Windows on your brand new computer.

The procedure for recovering the Windows license key is as simple as typing a command line into the OS command prompt. Be careful though, restoring this software key does not mean that you can use it to activate the copy of Windows installed on your new PC.

Windows’ relatively complex licensing system is divided into three categories: OEM, Retail, and Volume. Each of these license categories grants more or fewer permissions.

What is the difference between an OEM, retail and volume license?

Simply put, OEM-stamped licenses are pre-activated licenses that come with new computers with Windows already installed and ready to use. This license is actually attached to the machine on which it is located and can only be used with it. OEM licenses are usually stored directly in the PC’s BIOS or UEFI firmware. This is also the reason why you do not need to reactivate your copy of Windows when reinstalling Windows from a recovery partition located on your PC.

The so-called Retail Windows licenses are commercial licenses that you have purchased in a dematerialized version or in a boxed version online or at an official retailer. In dematerialized (or digital) version, the license is linked to your computer and linked to your Microsoft account. Specifically, all you have to do on a new machine is connect it to the Internet and identify yourself with your Microsoft account so that Windows activation happens automatically. If you purchased a boxed version, you must have a physical installation version of Windows (such as a DVD or a USB key in the case of Windows 11). The license is usually listed somewhere in the box. Retail licenses can be transferred between machines, but can only be used on one PC at a time.

Windows Volume Licenses are, as the name implies, licenses sold in bulk to companies, associations, governments, education, etc. and can be installed on a limited number of computers. Once this limit on the number of computers allowed to activate Windows is reached, this license key can not be installed on another machine. This is typically the type of license you can find in attractive deals where the Windows 11 activation key is billed for less than ten euros. These license keys can potentially be reused, provided of course that their maximum number of uses is not exceeded.

How do you know if your license key can be reused?

To determine if the Windows license key used on your old machine can be reused on your new PC, a simple command line is enough.

1. Open Command Prompt

From a Windows administrator session, use the keyboard shortcut Windows + Rthen in the window Perform displayed, type cmd and press the key Enter to validate.


2. Determine the type of your license key

To find out what type of license key is used to activate your PC’s copy of Windows, copy and paste the command Slmgr-dli at the command prompt, and press the Enter key on the keyboard to validate.


A window Windows Script Host must then open. So look at the line Description to find the type of license used on your pc: SORE, Retail Where Bind. pressure Okay to close the window.

Windows Script Host

How to recover your Windows license key

To find the Windows license key used on your computer, a simple command line is enough. Handling is within everyone’s reach and requires no special skills.

1. Enter the command

Always in the windowCommand prompt window open on the screen, copy and paste the following command and confirm by pressing the Enter key on the keyboard:

wmic path software licensing service get OA3xOriginalProductKey

wmic path software licensing service get OA3xOriginalProductKey

2. Collect your key

Logically, isCommand prompt should automatically display the Windows product key used on your PC. Copy it and keep it in a safe place so you can easily reuse it.

wmic path software licensing service get OA3xOriginalProductKey

You will be prompted to reinstall Windows to enable your copy on Microsoft servers.

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