Saturday, November 15, 2008

Problems and copy protection

A little more on my problem.
The hard disk itself is fine. The motherboard is toast. The logical solution is to replace the motherboard and go to work.

Unfortunately that runs square into Microsoft's copy protection fetish. If you replace the motherboard the operating system thinks its been loaded on a new computer, so it won't work until it is reauthorized by Microsoft. To get it reauthorized you need the OS serial number -- which I didn't get with the computer (remanufactured). So I'm stuck.

This has been very frustrating.


Baughn said...

Well, let's see.
You could download a pirate version of windows, which makes those checks irrelevant - technically illegal, but ethically okay; you have already paid for it, after all.

Incidentally, in my experience it's a bad idea to replace the motherboard without also reinstalling windows. It's not flexible enough about hardware drivers.

You didn't get the serial code with your computer? Seriously? Please tell me who made it, so I can make a note to stay away from them.

On another, legal alternative, you could grab a copy of ubuntu or something and use that. It's really gotten rather easy lately, and openoffice is a perfectly usable text editor.

Anonymous said...


It shouldn't be that hard, you may need to find a better tech.

What I would do (indeed, have done in the past) is pull the drive, connect it to a USB-to-IDE adapter (saves having to install the drive in another computer), plug that into a computer running Linux, mount the drive (read-only for safety), and copy off the files.

Were I local I'd do it for you, it'd take a couple hours tops, including pulling the drive.

-- Alastair ('al' from BIX - hi!)

Unknown said...

I have just started to read your first Wiz book and I love it.
I really hope you can save Wiz 6.

//Swedish fan

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that your computer is broken. If the IDE Hard disk is still ok, you could get an external IDE hard disk box for it that use USB connection. I think they still available for $25 on

Jonathan said...

Sorry to hear about your alarming problems. How we love Microsoft!

I wonder if someone will suggest installing Linux to solve the problem. It won't be me, because I've never used Linux and don't know whether it could solve the problem, but it seems one possible approach.

Unknown said...

Ouch! At least you have your data files intact, and that is a lot more than most people get after an electrical accident.

I have known of very inexpensive IDE-USB solutions in my country, but the problem still is that you don't need just your data, but the whole computer to work with. Maybe you can afford a new computer with SATA connections, but then you'll need someone else to get your files from the old disk. If that's not a suitable solution then maybe you can get a second hand computer that still has some IDE connectors. Why buy a new one if some old ones are nearly new and have a decent performance (and a much lower price)? Besides, have you seen "The Story of Stuff"? It's no good for the environment to make everything disposable from the factory.

About the OS, and if you decide to replace just the motherboard, I would recommend switching to some Linux distribution. The last two Ubuntu releases have been extremely focused on user experience and ease of use. And you don't have to format your HDD (make sure you have someone with experience installing another OS on a Windows HDD, just in case). You might not install Linux, just use a LiveCD and do your work from it if you're in a hurry. Then you gain access to your files and save the modified work on USB dongles or on the Internet. Google Docs might be a good solution. Anyway, Microsoft's Windows Copy Protection policy is no good in these cases. Sometimes I wish all computing was simplier.

Unknown said...

I've called Microsoft over my copy of Windows not liking me replacing the motherboard and CPU on my computer and it only took about 15 minutes before they gave me an activation code. I told the technician that I replaced those parts in my computer and he was most understanding.

I've also pulled data off a drive using an external enclosure like the previous poster mentioned. Also very simple, any security properties on the drive can be overridden with a couple mouse clicks.

Irishrogue35 said...

Sorry to hear about the computer issue, Rick. I work with systems for a living, so if you need help getting the novel off your old drive, just let me know. Also, if you need, I do have a valid (store-bought) copy of Windows XP which I no longer use, since I have switched my Windows machines to Vista. It has the code you need, and you should be able to install it with no problems. If you wish, I can send it to you (since I no longer need it). My email is Let me know.

Oh, and love what I have read thus far.

Jonathan said...

Merry Christmas! I hope you've managed to solve your computer problems by now.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick!
Sorry to offtop in this sad post, but i recently bought all books about Wiz and really want to ask:
did WarBots really existed in tabletop version, or you just made that game up? :)
Sorry for my english, it's not my native language.

Chris M said...

You might try having a friend download and burn a copy of Knoppix Linux Live CD, then use that to access your data on the NTFS hard drive. Or just install a Linux partition on your drive, boot into that, and use it to access the NTFS data.

I've got Windows on this machine but don't even remember what version anymore. Ubuntu Linux does it all without the "Big Brother" aspects of Micr$oft.

Anonymous said...

This may be late, but there are programs available that let you retrieve the serial number of Windows (and some other products) from Registry. I usually use utilities from NirSoft (should be first result on Google), which can read the serial even from an OS that doesn't currently boot (it works as long as you can access it's Windows directory).

However, I've had problems with MS being unable to generate an activation code for some serials that came preloaded with the PC, and I had to change the serial to what was on the sticker. Still, it's worth to try.

Nanocore said...

I tripped over the blog where you started to talk about a new book and low and behold after I read through the rest of the blogs, I want to express my pure excitement to see another story out there (I found the web page). Thank you very much! Off to read...

Anonymous said...

For backing up stuff I would use a program called true image. There is 15 day trial version. It allows you to boot off a cd and restore. If you can't find a key ever again find a program called jellybean which finds the MS Keys for you. With true image you could load any copy of windows and then take the back up and explore it from there.
I really loved your books. I m sorry about what happen to you. I can understand that, I had something like that happen and it change my life to. I hope you are happy and doing well. Consider something like this for back up and storing files. there are cheaper one by the way.

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rax said...

hi,thanx.usb protection