Perhaps you upgraded from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 and now looking to retrieve the product key of your previous version from the Windows.old folder so that you can activate your Windows 10 OS using your Windows 7/8 key, or maybe you performed a clean install of Windows without formatting the drive, and now want to retrieve the product key saved in the Windows.old backup folder.
As you know, when you activate a version of the Windows operating system by entering a product key, the product key is usually saved in the Registry, but it can’t be easily viewed as it’s encrypted for security reasons.
There are several tools out there to view, recover, and backup product keys saved the Registry, but these tools can’t retrieve product keys from backup files saved in Windows.old folder, meaning these tools are useful to recover product keys only from a live Windows system.
That said, there is a free application out there to retrieve your Windows product key from Windows.old folder, and it can be used to recover your product license key of Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 10. In this guide, we will use a new software called ShowKeyPlus to recover Windows product key from Windows.old folder.
Retrieve Windows 10/8/7 product key from Windows.old folder
To recover the product key from Windows.old folder, please follow the given below instructions.
Note: In addition to Windows.old folder, you can also use this method to retrieve the product key from any kind of backup that you previously created, either using the native image backup tool or third-party software on your internal drive or external drive. If you have the image backup of a version of Windows, mount or extract the image file contents to a folder and then follow the given below instructions.
Step 1: Visit this page of GitHub and download the latest version of ShowKeyPlus software. It’s a portable utility designed to help you recover Windows product key and, more importantly, is free software.
Step 2: Extract ShowKeyPlus.zip file to get ShowKeyPlus executable. Double-click on the same to run it. Click Yes button if you see the User Account Control box.
Step 3: Once the application is launched, it will display your current product key, installed version, and edition of Windows. In addition to that, if the Windows.old folder is located in the root of the drive where the currently running Windows is installed, and it will automatically retrieve the product key from the Windows.old folder and display it as Original key.
If you have moved the Windows.old folder to a different location, ShowKeyPlus will not automatically recover the product key from Windows.old folder. In that case, click the option titled Retrieve key from backup, and then navigate to the Windows\System32\Config folder located under Windows.old folder.
Select the file named software and then click the open button to view the product key.
For instance, if “C” is the drive where Windows is installed, then you need to navigate to C:\Windows\System32\Config folder in the ShowKeyPlus.
For those who don’t know, Registry files are saved in the Config folder, and Software hive includes information about the Windows operating system as well as the product key.
As said before, this guide is not just limited to recovering your product key from Windows.old folder. This method also comes in handy if you have a dead or unbootable PC, and you want to recover the product key. Backup the Software hive from the unbootable machine using our how to backup files from unbootable Windows PC, and then try this software on a working PC.
Our how-to recover Windows 10 product key from BIOS, or UEFI guide might also help you.