Save the WinXP Product Activation before reinstall

WinXP introduced the Windows Product Activation (WPA) which is made to prevent casual piracy by requiring one to contact Microsoft after installing the product. One can avoid having to contact Microsoft every time a WinXP reinstall/repair is made.

When activating the WinXP the following file is created:


You can backup this file so you don't have to contact Microsoft to activate. After a reinstall or repair boot into safe mode and restore the wpa.dbl. Restart into normal mode and it will ask you to activate, press Ok and it will say it is already activated.

Note that you have to use the same product key, as you used when installing the first time, as the activation is a combination of your product key and your hardware id.

Note that you can't use this file to Activate other computers, unless they are almost identical to the computer which was Activated.

Note it is possible to do quick reinstall on top of the existing installation, without loosing any setting (Even the activation). This is done by running this command from the WinXP CD (X:)

X:\i386\Winnt32 /unattend

Note if using System Restore to go back to a Restore Point, which was before Windows was activated, then the Activation is lost, though one can try to Restore the backup created by System Restore.

Related Performing an inplace upgrade of WinXP.
Related Change WinXP CD Key using WPA.

More Info MS KB302878
More Info MS KB312295
More Info MS Technet: Preserving OEM Pre-Activation when Re-installing Windows XP
More Info MS Technet: Deploying Windows XP Using Windows Product Activation


  1. rich says:

    Is there a similar file for Office 2003 product activation in case you have to reinstall Office 2003?


  2. snakefoot says:

    Is there a similar file for Office 2003 product activation in case you have to reinstall Office 2003?

    According to this site a similar file exists:

    Beginning with some versions of Office 2000, activation is required if you want to continue to use Office applications after 50 uses. You can "save" your activation and restore it without connecting to the activation servers provided your hardware does not change significantly and the installed Office applications are the same.

    Office 2000: Call in and write down the code you are given. It's not date-stamped and you can reactivate using the same code. (Office 2002/2003 codes are date stamped and won't work for a later installation.)

    Office 2002: Activate over the Internet and save data.dat.
    Office 2003: Activate over the Internet and save opa11.dat.

    Both files are stored here:
    C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\Office\Data

    (If you can't see the Office\Data folder, you need to show hidden files and folders in Windows Explorer, Tools, Folder Options, View.)

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