Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

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Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:14 pm

So I'm getting the crash course of Windows 8 licensing this weekend when I agreed to fix someone's laptop. The gist of the issue is:

  • Their Toshiba laptop (Windows 8) won't boot--BSOD 0xc000021a whenever it tries.
  • I've discovered that the hard drive is bad
    • I can't safe boot or any other boot for that matter
    • CHKDSK stalls and takes forever to read certain areas of the disk; likes to make those characteristic, looping, crunchy read-sounds at those times
  • I can boot into the restore partition tools and do a system reset, but the machine still won't boot (same errors)--presumably because some areas of the hard drive are just bad

So I figure that's not a huge problem. Replace the hard drive, find a Windows 8 disc/ISO to install, and then use the COA sticker's license to activate. Nope. Apparently COA stickers with the code printed on them are old hat these days so all I get is a Window logo sticker thing instead. The actual license code is stored in the UEFI firmware somewhere? Ok then. Can I retrieve it? Who knows.

Evidently everything's different with Windows 8 now and so I need advice and learning on how I can fix this. I know I need a new hard drive, but is there any way to recover the Windows 8 key since I can't boot into it? The laptop didn't come with any restore media other than what was on the hard drive--the one that is dying. I was thinking maybe I could transplant the restore partition to a different hard drive and then restore it, but nothing I hook this hard drive up to can see that it even has partitions. And this could be folly anyway since it assumes the restore partition on the dying hard drive isn't corrupt itself.

So are my options basically to get another hard drive and purchase another copy of Windows?
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:49 pm

Contact Toshiba....maybe the windows code is linked to the serial # and is on a database some where.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:55 pm

Ugh... sounds like one more reason to avoid Windows 8 (as if I needed one).

Have you tried connecting the drive to another system? If you can get at the registry hive files you may be able to recover the license key. Though it sounds like you may have already wiped that out by attempting the recovery.

You may also be able to install from generic OEM media and get it activated over the phone...
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:51 pm

The Win 8 license is stored inside the BIOS, migrating an install is really easy.

I bought an Asus G750 JW last year. Bought an SSD and swapped it with the included 1 TB HDD along with a 750 gb scorpio black i had.

All i had to do was reinstall windows with an OEM disc. A friend of mine had one of those when he bought his system builder (OEM) license.

The installer checks for the win 8 license inside the bios (since it is UEFI) finds it and automatically activates your system. No lengthy number to input and activation headaches.

If you don't have an OEM disc handy, you can download one of them from torrent sites. just make sure its an untouched one. I tried it too and it worked for me.

No, i'm not going to link it :)

If i am breaking some rule, then i'm sorry. It's just that it's not my fault microsoft makes it so hard to get the iso to do a clean install. Only legit way is getting a technet subscription and those are cancelled.

Anyway, that was my experience. if you have any other question, i'll be happy to answer.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:13 pm

I stand corrected. So they got it *half* right (easy re-activation), but made it harder to get legit ISOs?
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:21 pm

From what I've heard, MS will usually just give you a download link if you contact them and tell them what the issue is. Never tried it myself.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:49 pm

just brew it! wrote:I stand corrected. So they got it *half* right (easy re-activation), but made it harder to get legit ISOs?


The OEMs do this to save a penny by not having discs fabricated.

This isn't Microsoft's doing.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:51 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
just brew it! wrote:I stand corrected. So they got it *half* right (easy re-activation), but made it harder to get legit ISOs?

OEMs do this to save a penny by not having discs fabricated.

This isn't Microsoft's doing.

With earlier versions you could download ISOs from Digital River. Is this not the case with Win8?
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:10 pm

Digital River having a copy of the ISOs had something to do with them being the source point after purchase of the software from the Microsoft store. It wasn't really meant to be a general download point for all Microsoft software or a way for OEM to shirk their responsibilities to their customers.

I don't think Digital River has Win8 copies (or didn't when I last went looking a few months ago).

OEMs stopped providing discs with their machines back in 2005 or so. Or at least that's the first time I remember running into it. Dell and HP charged between 20 to 40 dollars to get the discs sent to you. I've seen Toshiba charge upward of $100 for the discs. The OEMs really, really don't want to have to fabricate them.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 7:28 pm

HP would still send you a pile of restore CDs for your machine if you called and bitched, as recently as 2008 or thereabouts. It would've actually made more sense for everyone involved if they had sent an OEM CD (sans COA, since you already had that) instead -- less duplication cost for them (one CD instead of a pile), and the user wouldn't have needed to spend a couple of hours re-removing all of the HP crapware!
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:20 pm

just brew it! wrote:With earlier versions you could download ISOs from Digital River. Is this not the case with Win8?

The only way to download a legit ISO is from Microsoft from within a Microsoft OS Vista or newer. It also will only download the ISO that matches the current architecture of your Windows Vista or newer install.

If you try to download the ISO to make a thumb drive with XP it will happily tell you that XP can't write to thumb drives or DVDs so all you can do is an upgrade install. :roll:

Idiotic move MS...
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:23 pm

Thanks for the information, guys.

First I tried calling Toshiba's support which was sketchy since the laptop is just out of warranty support. The net result of this endeavor was that there was no way to recover the key without access to the original OEM media it came installed on. Whatever, man.

Next, I tried Microsoft's support. Here's some of the highlights:

Only the computer manufacturer can provide the product key information since the key is OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer). However, the manufacturer would usually refer the customer to Windows support. In that case, we would offer them a replacement for the product key for just $40.00.
Well that gives me a key, but how can I get media to install the OS?
For the disk, that will be a separate charge of $20.00.
Does this have to be specifically an OEM disc? If I have a Windows 8 Pro disc already, can I install with that and then use the replacement key you provide us?
Yes, you can use that one.
In my research, someone said that installing Windows 8 via an OEM disc will automatically query the key in the UEFI firmware and use that to activate. Is that true?
The activation is actually a separate process from installation. You should have a product key in hand even if you use an OEM disk.
Is there any way to retrieve the key supposedly stored in UEFI (and no longer printer on the COA)?
When the product key has been entered on the computer, there is no legitimate way to recover it. This is for security purpose on the part of the user.

Well at least Microsoft is protecting us from ourselves somehow.

So come hell or high water, Microsoft is determined to make us purchase another key to get this restored.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Mon Feb 10, 2014 5:59 pm

The support rep didn't answer your question correctly. More accurate to say he focused on a different topic.

Just installing the correct media will work. So if it shipped with Win8 Pro, then you need to install Win8 Pro. It will pull the key from the UEFI and activate.

Win 8.1 uses different keys, that won't work right. Install 8 first then use the Microsoft store to upgrade it to 8.1.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:35 am

Thanks Ryu.

So I managed to stick a temporary drive in there just to install Windows and try running RWEverything to look at the BIOS and retrieve the key... and it worked! Neato. Alright, so now I have a key. The COA sticker just says "Windows 8" so I believe that's the basic, non-pro version. From what I remember from looking around in CMD from the restore partition was the presence of Program Files (x86) so I'm also going to assume that it's x64.

Now I know I have access to Windows 8 Pro, but I'm guessing putting in this key won't automagically reduce itself to basic edition and activate. That would just be too easy. But if I were to find a Windows 8 (basic) 64-bit Edition and install it and then use this key, do you suppose it will work? Because that's the plan now.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:46 am

If I'm reading Ryu's post right, you didn't need to run the key recovery tool. All you need is the proper install media.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:05 am

Indeed.

The key recovery process from the Bios sounds interesting, kinda want to know how that works.

But yes, in the end the only thing you needed was a Win 8 OEM disc. The disc pulls the key from the bios while activating and you don't even need to input the key.
It will be only useful if you install it with a non untouched (modified) disc that won't recognize the key and shows up as unactivated. then you can enter the key and activate manually.

But anyway, with these kind of things it is better to just let windows handle everything. The info you got from microsoft support is interesting (i had no idea you could get OEM discs from them for 20, let alone replacement OEM keys for 40) but in the end it complicates what you want to do which is reinstall the original windows license into a new hard drive on the toshiba laptop.

Get an untouched Win 8 x64 (non pro) iso, burn it, and install it into the new hdd. it's as simple as that.

Be sure to burn it into the iso. if you try to use the dvd tool to burn it into a usb drive, the process wont work.
I had to do this a ton of times until i got it right because i didnt had access to the original OEM disc when win 8.1 broke my install.
That's how i found out a non original OEM disc (meaning an untouched iso obtained through other means) will work too.
I guess it doesn't work with a usb stick because you have to deactivate the UEFI security and boot through legacy BIOS for the usb to be recognized, and doing it without the UEFI means you can't use the integrated key.

Anyway good luck with it and let us know if it works out in the end.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:14 am

My Win 8 x64 OEM version came with a sticker and a license key on the sticker which I stuck on my box when built. So it's just these mainstream companies that no longer give you the sticker. Self-builds still end up with a sticker.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 8:34 am

I had a little different experience with my wife's Asus laptop. It came with a 500GB hard drive and 24GB "SSD" in caching mode. I was less than impressed with the performance and wanted to switch to an SSD and ditch the whole caching setup altogether. I figured imaging the mechanical drive over with all the hoopla would be a disaster so as long as I had a known good configuration (mechanical drive) I thought I would just try with the SSD (after a brief amount of research discovering the key was stored in the BIOS and using a key extractor within W8 to be extra sure). I used the OEM (from Newegg) copy of Windows 8 pro to install W8 non-pro onto the Asus laptop with no issue. It just sorta worked and was activated when I got into the system. I know next to nothing about how the whole UEFI works (it scares me a bit, tbh) - it puts a partition on the drive and things sure boot quickly with it but that is the extent of my knowledge. Sounds like you got it worked out, which is good - hopefully my experience will help out the next guy that stumbles upon this
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:37 am

frumper15 wrote:I know next to nothing about how the whole UEFI works (it scares me a bit, tbh) - it puts a partition on the drive and things sure boot quickly with it but that is the extent of my knowledge.

Speedy boot times aren't really a function of UEFI per se, though it is certainly plausible that an optimized UEFI BIOS (having shed a lot of the legacy PC BIOS baggage) could shave a few seconds off of POST times.

UEFI replaces the legacy PC BIOS, which has been around since the 1980s. Advantages include cross-platform compatibility (can work with ARM and other platforms, whereas legacy BIOS is x86 only); support for GPT disks as the boot drive; and Secure Boot (which is supposed to prevent the system from booting if the bootloader has been tampered with). Criticisms include complexity (it is essentially a mini-OS that boots before your "real" OS does); the fact that in some cases it may actually hurt security rather than improving it (exploits have already been found in at least one vendor's Secure Boot implementation); and that it gives Microsoft undue control over the hardware ecosystem through their "Certified for Windows 8" program (depending on the platform systems may be locked down, blocking installation of any non-MS OS).

Criticisms aside, UEFI represents the way forward for pre-boot environments and AFAIK is already present on pretty much all modern hardware (due to the Windows 8 logo requirements). The legacy BIOS infrastructure is older than many of the people posting on this forum, and should have been put out to pasture years ago.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 10:46 am

and that it gives Microsoft undue control over the hardware ecosystem through their "Certified for Windows 8" program (depending on the platform systems may be locked down, blocking installation of any non-MS OS).


Given that UEFI is an open standard, you do realize that any other OS could do this, yes?

That non-MS ARM platforms are already notoriously locked down?
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:29 am

Ryu Connor wrote:Given that UEFI is an open standard, you do realize that any other OS could do this, yes?

That non-MS ARM platforms are already notoriously locked down?

Yes, of course. But no other OS vendor currently has the clout to dictate it for general-purpose devices.

On x86 it is mostly a non-issue since it can be disabled, and the major Linux distros have already worked around it anyway. It's really more of a problem if general-purpose ARM-based devices really catch on.

What mostly concerns me about it is that it is complex, which means it is more difficult to vet for exploits. Secure Boot may give users and administrators a false sense of security; malware hidden down in the UEFI layer has the potential to be a clusterf*** of epic proportions.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:42 am

just brew it! wrote:Yes, of course. But no other OS vendor currently has the clout to dictate it for general-purpose devices.


The desktop (and even traditional laptop) is on the path of becoming a niche species. The clout of Microsoft for the broader world of computing has never been weaker than it is today.

You are an evangelist still so hung up on MS of the 90s that I dare say you can't even see the new enemies that have replaced the old.

On x86 it is mostly a non-issue since it can be disabled, and the major Linux distros have already worked around it anyway.


Some feel it should be actively supported in Linux and Linus at this time is actively against it. As with many things in Linux this battle isn't over.

It's really more of a problem if general-purpose ARM-based devices really catch on.


If they catch on? They have caught on and they are bigger and more important than the general PC market.

What mostly concerns me about it is that it is complex, which means it is more difficult to vet for exploits. Secure Boot may give users and administrators a false sense of security; malware hidden down in the UEFI layer has the potential to be a clusterf*** of epic proportions.


As if the x86 ASM based legacy BIOS with it's years of cruft and hacks wasn't complex?

Computing will only grow more complex and yes complexity breeds fragility, that being said, what came before wasn't somehow anymore magically secure.

One only need to return to the 90s and look at the CIH virus to see a simplistic vulnerability of BIOS firmware.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:53 am

Ryu Connor wrote:If they catch on? They have caught on and they are bigger and more important than the general PC market.

Not sure I consider the current crop truly "general purpose" yet, but point taken.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:16 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:the new enemies that have replaced the old.

Apple and Samsung? Or the NSA? :P
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:31 pm

Those are two, but Google is high up on the list as well.

Linux is well on its way to being controlled by Google in everything but name. This is while Google continues to act just like MS did in the 90s.

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/googles-iron-grip-on-android-controlling-open-source-by-any-means-necessary/
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 12:49 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:Linux is well on its way to being controlled by Google in everything but name.
I don't see that quite just yet, but on the consumer side, if Chrome OS gets any traction and (a big one) if it manages to surpass Ubuntu and a couple other more popular distros on the desktop, then they may have gained the power to dictate stuff like Microsoft in the 90s. Just like in life, power is given to you (by market forces), not you go out and just grab them by yourself. The larger Linux ecosystem (including servers, etc.) is still quite open.


http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/
This also talks about how not open source GMS is and further reinforces how powerful Google is in the "Android with Google Experience" market. The base AOSP is a ghost of its former self.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Tue Feb 11, 2014 2:12 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:The desktop (and even traditional laptop) is on the path of becoming a niche species. The clout of Microsoft for the broader world of computing has never been weaker than it is today.

You are an evangelist still so hung up on MS of the 90s that I dare say you can't even see the new enemies that have replaced the old.


I am not much of an linux evangelist, but my computing experience/preference so closely match JBI's it's sometimes scary.

Although I'm not very worried by MS, I'm not particularly worried about Google either. This might because I'm old-school and therefore foolish and short-sighted, but either way I don't really care about these smart-gadgets. At any rate, I'm also somewhat convinced that vendor-lock offers meaningful benefits in the mobile space. For instance, I absolutely would not put up with the kind of crap I've dealt with as a matter of course on desktops/laptops on a phone, no matter how "smart." If that takes an indivisible bond between hardware & software (and I think it just might...) so be it!

Ryu Connor wrote:Some feel it should be actively supported in Linux and Linus at this time is actively against it. As with many things in Linux this battle isn't over.


Sure, ToE is another one of those perennial issues. I can see why people want it, but I can also entirely understand why Torvalds is against it. And I think I have to side with Torvalds, in both cases.

Ryu Connor wrote:If they catch on? They have caught on and they are bigger and more important than the general PC market.


Not to me, and probably not to JBI either. As I've said, I'll freely cop to having the old-fogey with cataracts attitude, but the situation just doesn't bother me.

Ryu Connor wrote:Those are two, but Google is high up on the list as well.

Linux is well on its way to being controlled by Google in everything but name. This is while Google continues to act just like MS did in the 90s.


But that's android, not Linux. Maybe it's more "relevant" and "important", but I was never impressed with the "open source" android. I *always* thought it as another Darwin/MacOS situation, which your article and Flying Fox's seem to say Google is making even more obvious. I'm not saying that isn't a problem, just that I always understood the obvious and inherent fault-line, so I'm not at all surprised if the earth is shaking. That might be a naive and limited viewpoint, but that's just how I see it.

And in some ways Google is better than the MS in the 80s (Google's version of "Embrace, extend, and extinguish" isn't nearly as bad), but also I'll agree that they are also worse in other ways (they are WAY, WAY, WAY friendlier with and smarter about the USG).

Either way, I certainly don't give them a pass, I'm just largely unconcerned. Perhaps wrongly, but as I said, meh. I can't help it.
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Re: Dead HDD, now what? Windows 8 reinstall help

Postposted on Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:56 pm

UPDATE!

Alright, sorry about the delay there. I had to get authorization to order a replacement hard drive and then Amazon bungled the next-day shipping by a few days. Anyway, I finally got it this afternoon and threw it into the laptop so I can finally report back on this licensing situation...

So first off, I needed Windows 8 (non-Pro) x64. I was able to search around for the SHA-1 hash of the MSDN image and then googling that took me to a torrent with the legit copy. In the process, I was also able to procure a couple generic keys in case I needed to put in a placeholder to get the OS to install. I burned the DVD and set the laptop's BIOS back to UEFI. Windows 8 installed with no issue and--you guys were right--I didn't have to enter in the key or anything. When I got to the desktop and went into the system control pane, I could see the key was already in there. A little later on while I was installing drivers, I went back in there to actually activate Windows 8 but discovered that it had already done so. Problem solved, crisis averted, etc.

So that went over rather smoothly, all things considered. Right now I'm currently updating to Windows 8.1 and installing a small handful of other basic stuffs and then I'll create them a restore disc.

Thanks again for the guidance!
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