How to Uninstall and Reinstall Windows Updates

Even though installing updates in Windows is an easy process, the mechanism in the background that manages it all is fairly complicated. There is also a lot of misinformation on the Internet about how to deal with problems relating to Windows Update.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that all Windows updates can be installed at once by simply deleting the SoftwareDistribution folder stored in C:Windows. This is completely wrong. Yes, you might save some space (anywhere from 500 MB to several GB’s), but deleting the folder will not remove any installed update.

In addition it’s a bad idea to delete the SoftwareDistribution folder unless it is absolutely required. There is a subfolder called DataStore that has a large database of all the Windows Updates available. This database will probably be a couple of hundred MBs in size. Deleting this database simply removes the Windows Update history for the computer.

To prove this to myself, I did a test. I opened Control Panel, clicked on Windows Update and then clicked on View Update History in the left hand menu.

review update history

This screen just gives you a full list of installed updates with the Status, Importance and Date Installed. When we delete the SoftwareDistribution folder, this dialog will be completely empty as if you have never installed any updates. Before I show you that, click on the Installed Updates link at the top where it tells you how to remove an update.

windows update history

As you can see, I have a couple of hundreds updates currently installed for Office, Windows, Silverlight, etc. Now if you follow the instructions below for deleting the folder, you can go back to View Update History dialog and you will see it’s now empty.

blank update history

However, if you click on Installed Updates again, you will see that all the updates that were listed before and still listed there. This is because we simply deleted the log history of the updates and not the actual updates.

This dialog is where you can actually uninstall an update, but only one at a time. Simply click on an update and then click Uninstall. Unfortunately, there is no way to remove all updates at once unless you use System Restore.

uninstall an update

If you use System Restore and restore the computer to a previous restore point, any updates that were installed after that restore point will be gone. To remove all updates, though, you would need a restore point created right after the OS was installed. Even if a restore point was created at that point, older ones normally get deleted over time to make space for newer restore points.

Still, if you have a lot of space allocated to System Restore, you might be able to roll back a couple months worth of updates at once.

Once you delete the contents of the folder, you will need to revisit Windows Update via Control Panel and check for updates. The entire database will be built from scratch and you may notice that Windows shows Checking for updates for a very long time. This is because a list of every update applicable to the OS has to be downloaded again and then compared to the updates currently installed on the system.

Delete SoftwareDistribution Folder

In order to remove this folder, you first have to stop the Windows Update and BITS services in Windows. To do this, click on Start and type in services.msc into the search box.

services msc

Next, right-click on the Windows Update service and click on Stop. Do the same thing for the Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) service too.

stop windows update service

Now navigate to the following folder shown below and you will see several folders listed there. The main ones that we will talk about are Downloads and DataStore.

C:WindowsSoftwareDistribution

software distribution folder

If you are trying to regain hard drive space only, then you should only delete the contents of the Download folder, though in theory this should not really be necessary. The Download folder actually holds all the updates that have been downloaded, but not yet installed. Once they are installed, the updates are removed within 10 days. So theoretically, that folder should shrink in size soon after you have installed all the Windows updates.

The DataStore folder contains the database with the full Windows update history for the computer. Once it is deleted, the update history dialog will be blank like I had shown above, but all your updates will still remain. You should really never delete the DataStore folder unless you are told to do so or if Windows Update is completely corrupt and misconfigured.

Note that you may not be able to delete certain folders and the ReportingEvents file. In the case where you can’t delete a folder, just open the folder and delete all the contents inside. For me, I got an error when trying to delete the DataStore folder, so I just went inside the folder and deleted the database file and all the other files in the folder.

Check for Windows Updates

If you did remove the SoftwareDistribution folder, you will want to go to Windows Update again to check for updates. It will show that you have never perform a check for updates since the update history is now gone.

check for updates

Click the Check for updates button and be prepared to wait a while as the database is being recreated.

Conclusion

So the main point here is that you cannot really get rid of all Windows Updates at once unless you have a really old restore point saved on the system. Secondly, you should only delete the Downloads folder in the SoftwareDistribution folder if you are looking to save space or simply install all the latest updates and wait 10 days to see if they are removed automatically.

Thirdly, you should only delete the DataStore folder if something is really wrong with Windows Update like not showing any new updates for several months, etc. Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of how Windows Update works and how the files are stored. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

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Ultimate Guide to Repairing a Damaged or Corrupt Word File

Need to repair or fix a corrupt Word document? Sometimes when opening a Word document, you will give you an error stating that the document cannot be read because it is corrupt or because there is some other problem with the file. Word documents can become corrupt in a number of different ways, but usually it’s just a problem with the headers in the file and the data can be recovered most of the time.

Here is a typical error message you might see when Word can’t open a document.

Word was unable to read this document. It may be corrupt

corrupt word file

By default, Word shows you two possible ways to open a corrupt document: Open and Repair the file or open with Text Recovery converter. In addition to these two options, there are other tricks you can try inside Word to open a corrupt file. You should definitely try all of these options before moving on to third party tools, etc.

For testing purposes, I intentionally corrupted a Word document and then tried to repair it using all the different tools and methods mentioned below. I’ll point out the results for each recovery option.

Unfortunately, there aren’t very many free ways to recover a Word document, as you’ll probably be able to tell when you perform a Google search. I’ll make sure to mention all the free options I could find before mentioning paid software.

Built-in Recovery Options

Both of the built-in repair options mentioned above can be accessed via the File Open dialog. Click on File, then Open and then single click on the file you want to repair. Do not double-click on it, otherwise Windows will try to open it normally and you’ll just get an error message.

open and repair

Now instead of clicking on the Open button, click on the black arrow that is located on the right side of the button. You’ll see a bunch of extra options, one of them being Open and Repair. Word will attempt to repair the corrupt document and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to view the file.

In my simple test, Word was able to recovery my file completely, though it only contained about two pages of plain text. Always try this option first as it does a pretty good job and doesn’t require any additional software.

The second built-in feature is the recovery converter, which you can also access via the Open dialog. In the drop down box that says All Word Documents, go ahead and choose Recover Text from Any File.

recover text from file

Word will attempt to recover any text it can from the file. In my test case, it failed and only returned a message stating that the file appears to be corrupt. Depending on the type of corruption that your file has suffered, your results will vary.

If neither of these two methods worked, you can try to insert the corrupt document into another Word doc. To do this, open a new file and then click on the Insert tab.

insert object word

Click on Object and then click on Object again from the dropdown. Click on the Create from File tab and then click the Browse button. Choose your corrupt Word file and see if it is able to insert the contents into the new document.

insert file word

In my test, Word could not insert the document into the current file. Instead, I got some strange error message stating that the program used to create the file was Word, but Word was not installed on my system! Again, your results will vary, so give it a shot, but don’t expect much.

Open File via Link

This method is a bit convoluted, but it might work for you depending on the type of damage your document has sustained. Basically, we create a document, type any text into it, copy that text, then paste special that text to a new document as a link and finally update that link to point to the corrupt file rather than the original file. Whew! Let’s start.

First, open a new Word doc and type in anything like “My name is John.” and then save the document somewhere.

test file word

Now select the text you just typed and copy it to the clipboard. You can select it and press CTRL + C or just right click on it and choose Copy.

copy text word

Next, create a new Word document by going to File and then New. Choose blank document if asked. Now click on the small arrow on the Paste button and choose Paste Special.

paste special

Here you have to select Paste link and then choose either Formatted Text (RTF) or Unformatted Text. It doesn’t matter which one you pick. If you get any kind of error message when trying to paste the link, go ahead and close the new document, recopy the text and then create a new document again.

paste link

We’re getting close to the end now. Right-click on the pasted link text, select Linked Document Object and then select Links.

word links

Click the Change Source button here and navigate to the directory where your corrupted file is located. Select the file and then click Open.

change source link

Once the link source has been updated, click OK and hopefully the text from the corrupt document will appear instead of the text you had copied earlier. In my case, I got an error message and could not open my corrupt file. However, my test file was corrupted in several ways and that could have been the reason the text was not recovered. You should still give it a try.

Open in Draft Mode

Another thing you can try is opening the file in Draft mode, which doesn’t look at some of the header info, etc and therefore might be able to open the file.

To do this, click on File and then Options. Click on Advanced and then scroll down to the Show document content section.

draft font word

Go ahead and check the Show picture placeholders box and the Use draft font in Draft and Outline views box. Now go back to Word, click on View and then click on Draft under the Document Views section.

draft mode

Now try to open your corrupt file and see if it opens. If not, you’ll have to keep reading for other possible methods to fix the corruption.

Previous Versions

Another option that might help you recover your Word document is Previous Versions. In Windows 7 and higher, System Restore will automatically make backups of your documents whenever a new restore point is created.

This means that System Restore has to be enabled, which it is by default. If you manually turned it off, you won’t be able to recover any data using this feature. If it’s enabled, Windows automatically creates restore points fairly frequently, usually at least once a day.

You can check to see if there are any backed up versions of the file by simply right-clicking on it, choosing Properties and then clicking on the Previous Versions tab. If you don’t see the tab, then System Restore is not turned on.

previous versions

Any previously saved versions will show up in the list box below. Obviously, you will lose any data that was added after the last backup was created and before the corruption occurred, but it’s still better than nothing.

Third-Party Recovery Tools

When using third-party tools, I’ll only mention the ones that have free demos because no one wants to shell out cash only to find out nothing can be recovered. The demos usually let you see a portion of the text and will tell you if it was able to recover everything else. At that point, you can choose to pay if you feel the program will get your the results you want.

You also want to make sure you make a copy of the corrupt file before you start using recovery tools. One program may end up corrupting the file more and a second program that may have been able to recover the original corrupt file might not be able too due to the changes the first program made.

Repair My Word

If you have a Word file created from an older version of Word, you can use Repair My Word to repair the file for free. It’s one of the few freeware apps out there and there’s a big reason for that. Unfortunately, it only works with Word 6.0, Word 95, Word 97, Word 2000, Word XP and Word 2003. It won’t work with the new docx file format used in Word 2007 and higher.

wordrepair

I created a Word 2003 document, corrupted it and then tried to recover it using the WordRepair program, but I only got a message stating the file was encrypted and unable to be read. The file was not encrypted, but I’m guessing the problem was caused by the fact that I used Office 2010 to save the file in Office 2003 format.

Even so, if you have a corrupt file in .DOC format, go ahead and give this program a shot since it’s free and it’s been around for a long time.

Recovery for Word

Recovery for Word costs $69, which is pretty steep, but works only all versions of Word from 95 to 2010. The demo will also recover a small portion of the file to help you decide whether to pay that much.

Once you install it, click on Start Recovery Wizard and then click Add Files.

recovery for word

Click Next and the program will remind you to backup the file before you try to recover it. Click Next and choose a location where you want to save the file. Lastly, click Start to begin the recovery process.

word recovery results

The program also gives you an assessment score from 1 to 3, the former being the least likely and the latter having the most chance of recovering data. In my case, I had a 1 out of 3 and my file was completely unreadable. This was good to know because I wouldn’t have to spend $70 to find that out later.

DocRepair

DocRepair costs $79 and works from Word 95 to Word 2010. It’s also fairly costly, but again, you can download the demo and check the preview to see whether any data can be recovered.

Once you install it and run it, click Browse and find the corrupt file. Click Next and don’t check any of the advanced options yet.

docrepair

Click Next and the program will start to repair your document. Once it completes, it will show you a preview of any content it was able to retrieve. The demo version will replace recovered words with the word demo, so you have to pay to show the actual words.

If nothing shows up in the preview window or if something is missing, go back to Step 2 and check the Use salvage content retrieval mode box.

docrepair results

It will find more content, but it will also create more garbage characters. In my test, this program couldn’t recover anything from my corrupt file either.

Kernel for Word

Kernel for Word is only $49, so a bit cheaper than the other programs. Again, the demo version will attempt to recover some data from your file as proof that it actually works.

kernel for word

Once you install it, just click Add Files and then click Repair Files. It will ask you for a location to save the recovered files and then begin the recovery process. Again, this program failed when trying to recover text from my corrupt file.

To be fair, my file was purposely corrupted to the max. I wanted to test whether any program would be able to recover a severely damaged file. The answer was pretty much no, but hopefully your Word doc is nowhere near as messed up as mine. There are also a bunch of other paid programs out there you can try, just make sure to download the trial or demo before purchasing. Good luck!

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How to Track Changes in Excel

Are you looking for a way to track changes made to an Excel spreadsheet? There are many cases where you have to distribute a file to multiple people and keep track of what changes were made. You might want to track when the change was made, who made the change, what cell the change occurred in and what data was changed.

Excel has built-in tracking features that can handle all of the above cases. You can easily review all of the changes directly on the worksheet and you can also accept or reject each change. There are a few points to remember about the tracking features of Excel:

1. Turning on tracking does not mean that you can revert the spreadsheet back in time to a previous state by undoing the changes. It’s basically a log file that records everything and that’s it. You can manually go and see what data was deleted or added, but you’ll have to make the changes to the spreadsheet yourself.

2. Turning on tracking doesn’t mean every single change you make will be recorded. Any data stored in a cell is tracked, but other changes like formatting are not. Other changes that are not tracked include hiding/unhiding rows and columns, comments, and cell values that change to due a formula recalculation.

3. Change history is only kept for 30 days by default. If you make changes to an Excel worksheet and then open the workbook again 45 days later, then you’ll be able to see the change history for all 45 days until you close the workbook. When you close it, any change history older than 30 days will be gone. That means the next time you open it, you won’t be able to see that change you had made 45 days earlier.

4. Whenever your turn on tracking, the workbook becomes a shared workbook. This means that multiple users will be making changes to the document.

Now that you know some basics of how tracking works in Excel, let’s talk about how to enable it, change settings and keep track of changes!

Enabling Tracking

Let’s go ahead and turn on tracking first. Open Excel and click on the Review tab on the ribbon. At the far right, you should see an option called Track Changes under the Changes section.

review track changes

Click the button and choose Highlight Changes. You’ll get a dialog box where you now need to check off the option “Track changes while editing. This also shares your workbook”.

turn on tracking

You have several options here including When, Who, and Where. For When, All means every change will be highlighted. You also have the option of highlighting changes from the last time you saved the document, since a specific date, or changes that have not yet been reviewed.

If you check Who, you can choose to track changes made by anyone or changes made by everyone except you. The Where option allows you to track changes only for a specific portion of the spreadsheet. Just click the button at the right and select the range of cells you want to keep track of.

Finally, you can un-check the Highlight changes on screen option if you do not want others to know you are tracking changes. By default, once you start tracking and this option is selected, any changed cell will show a small arrow at the top left to indicate it was changed.

excel changes

Also, if you click on a changed cell (with Highlight changes on screen turned on), you’ll get a little popup window showing what the value was changed from and changed to and at what time. If you deselect the Highlight changes on screen option, that little black triangle won’t show up.

track changes in excel

So what you can do, for example, is hide the changes on the screen by not checking the box, send out your file to everyone who has to make changes to it, and when you get it back, just go to Track Changes and recheck the box.

Configure Tracking

The next step is to take a look at the settings for tracking and adjust them to fit your needs. To do this, click on the Share Workbook button that is directly to the left of the Track Changes button. Click on the Advanced tab when the Share Workbook dialog pops up.

share workbook settings

Here you can change the number of days for keeping change history to something other than 30 days. By default, changes are updated when the file is saved, but you can make it so that it is automatically done every few minutes. Lastly, you can choose how you want to deal with conflicts: either by being asked or simply letting the last change when saving the file win.

Viewing Changes

Once you have enabled tracking and made a few changes, you can click on the Track Changes button again, click on Highlight Changes and you’ll notice that the List changes on a new sheet box is no longer grayed out.

list changes new sheet

Check that and click OK. A new worksheet called History will be added that will let you view all the changes that have been made to that workbook.

change history excel

At some point you’ll need to either approve or reject the changes. You can review all the changes and then pick and choose which ones you want to keep or discard.

Simply click on Track Changes again and choose Accept/Reject Changes. Select the options to choose which changes you want to accept or reject. If you want to review all changes, just leave When checked and make sure it is set to Not Reviewed.

Click OK and Excel will begin to show you each change that was made and give you the option to Accept or Reject. You can also Accept All or Reject All changes if you like.

accept reject changes

If you reject a change, it will immediately revert back to what was originally in that cell. It’s worth noting that if another cell references the contents of the rejected cell, then that value will also change when the referenced cell value reverts back. This can cause formulas to break, etc, so be careful.

That’s it! Now you can track any changes made to your Excel spreadsheet easily by using this built-in feature. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

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Fix Registry Editing has been Disabled by Your Administrator Error

If you’ve recently tried to open the Windows registry editor and were presented with the message” “Registry editing has been disabled by your administrator”, then you’re not alone! This error message can occur for a couple of different reasons, some of which have a solution and some that don’t.

Most of the time you will see this in corporate environments where the IT staff has locked down the computer by disabling Windows settings and services. If it’s a policy pushed out by the main servers, it can be very hard or impossible to bypass. However, you can still give it a shot!

Another major reason the registry gets disabled is due to malicious viruses. By disabling access to the registry, the virus can prevent the user from repairing their system.

In this article, I’m going to go through a couple of different methods you can try for enabling access to the registry.

Method 1 – Group Policy

The first method involves opening the Group Policy editor in Windows and checking the setting for registry access. Unfortunately, the group policy editor is only available in the Professional, Ultimate and Pro versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8. If you have the Starter or Home editions, this method won’t work.

Step 1: Click on Start and typing gpedit.msc into the search box.

gpedit

Step 2: Navigate to User Configuration Administrative Templates System.

local policy editor

Step 3: In the right hand pane, double click on Prevent access to registry editing tools.

registry disabled by administrator

Step 4: If the setting is set to Enabled, you can change it to Not Configured or Disabled.

Now try to run the registry editor and see if it works. If not, go to the command prompt (Start, Run, type cmd) and type in gpupdate, but only if you are not in a corporate environment. In a corporate network, the gpupdate command will download the settings from the server again, which might just overwrite the setting to Enabled.

You can try to avoid receiving the setting from the server by restarting your computer, but disconnecting your network card so that it can’t communicate with the network. You may also want to try the whole procedure above while disconnected from the network in order to ensure that the corporate policy does not override the local policy.

If you have a home computer, then you don’t have to worry about all of this, just restart your computer and you should be able to edit the registry again.

Method 2 – Registry Key

Even if you can’t open the GUI registry editor, there is a DOS command line tool called REG that lets you edit, update and manipulate the registry.   Using this command, we can try to add a key that enables the registry. Click on Start, type Run and paste the following line into the Run box:

REG add HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionPoliciesSystem /v DisableRegistryTools /t REG_DWORD /d 0 /f

registry enable run cmd

Now try to open the registry editor and see if it is accessible. You may have to restart your computer first. Since Windows is running, you might run into problems using this method.

Luckily, there are ways to edit the registry while offline, meaning editing the registry without having to load Windows. Another good tech blog has written a detailed article on different ways to edit the registry offline, so check that out if the Run command method didn’t work. If this didn’t work either, keep reading!

Method 3 – Rename regedit

Sometimes a virus or malware program will simply prevent the registry loading by the name of the EXE file (regedit.exe). This is quite easy to bypass because you can just rename the EXE file to something else like regedit_new.exe and it might load just fine.

You can find the regedit executable file in the C:Windows directory. Since this folder is a Windows system folder, you won’t be able to simply right-click and rename it. You’ll get an error message saying that you don’t have permission from TrustedInstaller.

trustedinstaller

In order to rename the file, you’ll have to change the owner to yourself and then change the permissions to give yourself Full Control. I’ve written up the entire procedure for changing permissions from TrustedInstaller so that you can delete, rename or move the file.

Also, check to see if regedit was already named something else like regedit.com. Some viruses rename the .exe file so that it doesn’t load when you try to run it. In these cases, just rename the file back to regedit.exe and see if it works.

Method 4 – Symantec

Symantec has a really old file from 2005 that still seems to work with this registry issue. Some viruses will change the shell command registry keys so that anytime you run an EXE file, it just runs the virus instead. This file will replace those keys with the original default values. Once you download it, just right-click on it and choose Install.

unhookexec

When you open the link above, make sure you right-click on the link to UnHookExec.inf and choose Save link as, otherwise it will simply load the contents of the file in your web browser.

save link as

The Save as type should already be set to Setup Information, but in case it’s not, change it to that.

save as inf

There are a couple of other ways you can try to enable the registry, but I haven’t had any success with any of them and that’s why I’m not mentioning them here. If you’re not in a corporate environment, the first thing you should do is install anti-virus and anti-malware software to try and remove any malicious program that could be causing the issue.

Check out my previous articles that can help you with removing viruses and malware:

Best Software for Malware and Spyware Removal

Use Windows Defender Offline to Remove Viruses

How to Protect Your Computer From Viruses and Malware

If you have any questions, feel free to post a comment. Enjoy!

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How to Avoid Problems Activating Windows After a Clean Install

If you are planning on doing a clean install of Windows on your PC, you will more than likely have to reactivate Windows, either online or over the phone. Normally, the online reactivation will work just fine as long as the hardware on your computer hasn’t changed very much since the OS was originally installed and the version of Windows is exactly the same as the version that shipped with the computer.

If you have swapped out hard drives, graphics cards, memory, etc over time, then you might run into problems when you try to reactivate Windows online using the same product key. In these cases, you will have to call Microsoft and do an over the phone activation.

If the hardware hasn’t changed too much, you can make a backup of the information that Windows uses to ensure your copy is valid and then restore it after the reinstall, which I explain below using a freeware program.

Download Recovery Media

If the computer came installed with an OEM version of Windows and you perform a clean install with a retail version of Windows, it also won’t activate online. Previously, new PCs came with an OEM DVD that allowed you to reinstall Windows, but in the last few years most PCs now have a separate recovery partition that lets you restore directly from the hard drive. You shouldn’t have any problem activating Windows if you restore this way.

If you don’t have the DVD or recovery drive, you can either call Microsoft and try to activate by phone or you can directly download the ISO image files from Microsoft, but you will definitely need to have the product key from the COA sticker on the computer.

In order to download Windows 7 recovery media,  you have to enter a valid product key before it will let you download the ISO file. For Windows 8.1, you are not required to provide a product key for the download. You can get the Windows 8.1 ISO from the Create Media Reset page on Microsoft’s website.

It’s worth noting that for years you could download Windows 7 ISO images from DigitalRiver, an official distributor of Microsoft software. However, those have all been taken down and no longer work. Your only legal sources are the links above from Microsoft.

Another item to note is that if your computer has Windows 8, the key won’t be able to activate Windows 8.1. The same is true if you have a Windows 8.1 key and are trying to activate Windows 8. If you need a Windows 8 ISO image, then check out the Upgrade Windows with product key only page. Here you enter your product key and it will download the correct ISO image that can be activated for that specific key.

Windows XP

In Windows XP, you can avoid having to reactivate by simply copying a file from your Windows directory and saving it external media. When Windows XP is first activated, it creates a file called WPA.DBL and stores it in the C:WindowsSystem32 directory.

wpa dbl

Copy this file to your external storage device and keep it handy. When you go to reinstall Windows, you’ll reach the point where you have to activate. Decline the activation and complete the installation.

Now you’ll need to restart your computer in Safe Mode by pressing F8 on startup to get into the Advanced Boot Options menu.

advanced boot options windows

Go to C:WindowsSystem32 and you should see a file called WPA.DBL already there. Simply rename it to something like WPA.OLD and then copy your backup version of WPA.DBL to the current location.

Restart the computer and Windows XP should now be activated and working normally. Remember that this will only work if you use the WPA.DBL file from the same computer that Windows XP was originally activated on. If you install XP on a different machine and try to copy the WPA.DBL file there, it won’t activate.

Windows Vista, 7, 8

If you are running Windows Vista, 7 or higher, you won’t be able to simply copy one file in order to avoid the activation problem. There is a lot more information that is required, which makes it a lot more complicated.

Luckily, there is a freeware program called Advanced Tokens Manager that will make a copy of all the activation data for you and allow you to easily restore it later on.

Once you download it and unzip the files, go ahead and run the executable file. It doesn’t require any installation, so that’s nice. On the main screen, it will start detecting any valid Windows and Office products.

advanced tokens manager

If all works out well, the status should detect your version of Windows and it should display the product key along with the license status. To backup the data, just click the Activation Backup button. A fairly large dialog will pop up that basically explains all the features and the requirements in order for the activation to properly work. Make sure you read it carefully.

restore activation windows

The main points here are what I had already mentioned above: don’t make major hardware changes when performing the restore and make sure the OS edition is the same. Go ahead and click Yes and the backup will be created in a new folder called Windows Activation Backup, located in the same folder as the EXE file.

windows activation backup

You’ll want to make sure to copy this folder to some external media before you reinstall Windows. Once you have loaded Windows, simply download and run the program again. Make sure to copy the backup folder into the same folder as the EXE file. The program will detect the backup folder and the button will change to Activation Restore.

activation restore

Click on that and when it asks you if you are sure, click Yes. Wait about a minute or so and if the program succeeds, you will get a Success message.

activation success

At this point, you should be good to go with an activated copy of Windows. Note that if you Microsoft Office installed also, you can click the Office Activation Backup button and it will allow you to back that data up separately.

office activation backup

The only issue with Advanced Tokens Manager is that it does not fully support Windows 8.1. It can save all the activation data, but it can only restore activation for Windows 8.1 copies that were activated by phone. If activated online, it won’t be able to restore properly.

The developers say they are in the process of trying to figure this out, but there has been no update to the program September 2013, so that’s not a good sign. Either way, it works well for Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. If you have any questions, post a comment. Enjoy!

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