1 Nickel

Lost Windows 7 key


I have an Inspiron N4010 and it's hard disk crashed. I've replaced the hard disk and wish to reinstall Windows 7 but the key sticker is faded and characters are not readable.

I don't have the old DVDs which came with the laptop and the old hard disk wouldn't boot up. What are my options now to install and activate Windows 7 ?

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4 Replies
4 Ruthenium

Re: Lost Windows 7 key

The key is not needed with an OEM Dell Windows disc -- these are often sold on EBay.


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1 Nickel

Re: Lost Windows 7 key

you don't even need it in general unless windows 7 wase'nt on their when you first got it thats what i heard

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5 Tungsten

Re: Lost Windows 7 key

Ejn63’s answer is correct. However, be aware that Windows 7 at this point has less than 2 years of support left from Microsoft in case that makes you more inclined to use something newer. If not, then just to simplify things for you however you decide to install Windows 7, below are the updates I would recommend downloading beforehand and then installing offline before you even start in on Windows Update, because otherwise Windows Update on a fresh Win7 installation these days can take liteeally hours to even figure out what updates need to be downloaded. The updates below must be installed in the sequence listed below, and this will mean your first Windows Update experience won't be excruciatingly painful. Just Google the names/KB numbers below to find the download pages from Microsoft:

- Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (unless you'll be using install media that has it integrated)

- KB3020369: April 2015 Servicing Stack Update (required to install subsequent updates)

- KB3125574: Windows 7 Convenience Update (takes you from SP1's February 2011 state all the way to April 2016 in one big package rather than hundreds of individual updates)

- KB3172605: July 2016 Update Rollup (includes the fix for very long Windows Update scan times, so after installing this, you may still have a few dozen updates, but at least you won't be waiting potentially hours for them to even start downloading).

You’ll still have a few dozen updates that will probably take a few restarts to install, but it won’t be literally hundreds of updates.
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5 Iridium

Re: Lost Windows 7 key

Note this model has a Legacy BIOS so make Windows Bootable Media using the MBR Partition Scheme and NTFS format.

Windows 10

If you have previously updated to Windows 10 then your system's hardware profile is registered with a Microsoft Product Activation server and you can clean install Windows 10 Home without a Product Key:


Windows 7 Home Premium

If you have not already upgraded to Windows 10 Home then you must install Windows 7 Home Premium and activate using OEM System Locked Preinstallation. A Dell Windows 7 Home Premium Reinstallation DVD will do this. If you don't have one to hand then unfortunately Dell only have the Dell Windows 7 Professional Skylake Reinstallation .iso available to Download. This however can be converted to a Home Premium .iso:


After installing Windows 7 Home Premium it is advised to create a genuine ticket and use this to activate a clean install of Windows 10:



Dr Philip Yip
Tech Enthusiast and Author of the Unofficial Dell Windows Reinstallation Guide

Windows FAQs and OEM Downloads

#IDoNotWorkFor Dell
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