ABR (Activation Backup and Restore)
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This is a utility that allows you to backup and restore Windows Vista activation for systems that are pre-installed from the factory by an OEM, allowing you to reinstall the system without having to call Microsoft. It saves the activation to a file and allows you to restore it once you've done a clean install. ABR works with Vista SP1, and on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Vista.

How to use it:

  1. Download and unzip
  2. Run "activation_backup.exe"
  3. Save the backup files somewhere safe
  4. Reinstall Vista
  5. Restore activation by running "activation_restore.exe"

ABR can only be used to install the same version of Vista you have the original OEM license for. For example, if your computer came pre-installed with Vista Home Premium, you can only reinstall with Home Premium. You can, however, switch between 32-bit and 64-bit.

For full instructions on the process, look at my full Clean Vista Install guide.

Download

The .exe file is a self-extracting archive and the .zip version is a zipped version of that, for those who might run into a problem downloading .exe files.

NOTE: For Windows 7 activation, please use the BETA below

Md5sum and Download link:

82c86253a2d704f38c6b8efbd8606f43 ........ ABR-1.0.exe
decbcbc360944bb7140b173a0f8334fc ........ ABR-1.0.zip

Please do not link directly to this file. If you like this utility and want to tell people about it, please link to this web site, and not directly to the exe/zip files.

ABR Beta With Windows 7 Support

This is a beta (test release) of the next version of ABR with Windows 7 support. I have had reports that it is working with Windows 7, but I do not have access to OEM versions of Windows 7, so I cannot verify it myself.

If you are willing to try it out, please download here. Please let me know if this worked for you:

Test version with Windows 7 Support: ABRbeta.exe

Issues with Restore

Issues when running activation_restore are rare, but if you run into a problem, you can register your product key using the following steps:

  1. Open a command prompt As Administrator
  2. Type, replacing XXXX with the product key in the backup file:
    slmgr.vbs /ipk XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX...
  3. Type, replacing file with full path to file: slmgr.vbs /ilc
    C:\path\to\backup-file.xrm-ms

So you're saying it won't work for me, considering I'll be going from Vista Ultimate x86 OEM which came with my notebook to Vista Ultimate x64 Retail, on the same machine though? :(

No. I said it *will work* for you in my original reply. You won't be going from OEM to retail, you'll be going from OEM 32-bit to OEM 64-bit, and you just happen to be using a DVD you got from a retail box. Retail vs. OEM is determined by the license key you use, not the DVD that you use. The DVD is just "dumb" media, it does not know the difference.

If you follow the steps I have outlined above, you will have a clean install with 64-bit Ultimate using the OEM license that came with the computer. You won't be using the retail license you purchased.

I think you probably want to read my guide, which is here: http://directedge.us/content/installing-vista-clean-with-no-crapware

Hello,
would these 4 steps procedure work with a 32 bit vista retail disc integrated with SP2?

Thanks for a reply

I have not done it myself but I think it will work.

Thank you very much, it has been quite useful for my Compaq 6710 Vista Home Premium x86 to x64 upgrade.

Regards.
Guti.

Hi, my desktop came with vista, but I plan on buying a whitebox (barebone) laptop and get rid of/format the desktop and sell it. Will I be able to use the OEM vista disc that came with my desktop on my new laptop?

I am not sure of the licensing, but in terms of legality issues, if I have 1 vista license for 1 computer, would this be legal? And will ABR successfully transfer the activation from desktop to laptop?

Thank you!

I am not a lawyer, so you will have to verify this with your license agreement. A Vista OEM license is tied to the computer that you purchased it with, so you cannot move it from one computer to another. If Vista came with the desktop, then it cannot be moved to the laptop or another desktop computer.

ABR will not work to move the activation, because activation is tied to the hardware of the computer. The hardware on the desktop and laptop are different, so it will not work.

[...] unterscheidet sich n?mlich von dem Key auf dem CoA-Aufkleber am PC/Laptop. Oder Du verwendest Activation Backup & Restore. Activation Backup & Restore funzt aber ausschlie?lich mit OEM-Versionen gr??erer Hersteller, [...]

One thousand kisses for you! According to this solution I've search a whole year!

I wonder if this tool works for different language versions of Vista. Some countries in EU, like mine, are really small markets and it's easier to buy a given laptop in a neighbouring country. Can this be used to go from Vista in one language to another language?

ABR should work on other language versions of Vista just fine. I have not been able to test this myself, but I have also not heard of anyone having a problem with it on one of those versions.

Does Activation Backup and Restore work for Retail?

Well I have had a less than super smooth experience activating this copy of Vista already - we had to reactivate once because of a turbo memory crash situation, and then again when we had to do an upgrade install to clean up the mess that eventually resulted from file system corruption due to the turbo memory crashes. I'd like to go easy on the re-activation if it isn't necessary. And if it comes to a full reactivation, I might go for a clean install.

Another option is that I might just keep the old primary and use this drive as a secondary, but I like having a battery in the Ultra bay.

No, ABR only works on OEM versions.

I would like to convert my OEM installed Vista on T61 to a virtual machine and run it as a guest OS under Linux. Will this utility work?

No. This utility only allows you to reinstall Vista on the same OEM hardware it was originally installed. Virtualized hardware is not the OEM hardware, so Vista will not activate.

Thanks for the information and the prompt response.

[...] with laptop) If you can get to the desktop grab a copy of Activation Backup & Restore (here: ABR (Activation Backup and Restore) | directedge.us) if you cannot get to the desktop just use your key on the licence sticker. Grab the OEM image from [...]

best/only way i have found to do this is to backup your tokens.dat file and install with NO KEY, after you have windows setup you go into safe mode, use the tokens.dat you backed up to replace the one in your windows install, you need to use the same/orignal key, but it will avoid the need to call ms to get them to let you activate your windows again.

I have had to do this 3 times for friends and 2x for myself(server 2k8 here) due to issues with software i was testing.

maby somebody can make a tool to backup those?

this tool dosnt work at all for server 2k8 the key comes up as all B's :/

Thanks for the input, but tokens.dat does not apply to Vista. Vista has a completely different way of handling activation.

$

I'm wondering if i formatted my vista and installed WinXP OS instead.. and i changed my mind and wont vista back.. does the activation will work without any problem ?

Help Needed :)

If you use ABR to save the Vista activation before you reformat and reinstall, then yes, you will be able to restore it in the future if you choose to install Vista again.

I wonder if it is possible to run ABR to backup Windows Vista activation on HP machine and restore the activation on anther HP machine with the same configuration.

Please Help.

Yes, that should work fine.

Thanks..

I already tried that it didn't work with me (Shows all BBBB's)because the Windows version that I am using is not OEM it is retailer one and it looks for the Enterprise Activation ID via the DNS on the domain. Any advice please.

ABR only works on the OEM version, not retail. It will not work for you.

[...] ?? ? ???-???? ?????? ??????? ?? ???????: ????? ??????? ABR (Activation Backup and Restore) ??? ???????? ????? ? ?????????????? ????????? Windows [...]

Thanks for the very informative blog.

I have an hp dv7t w vista home prem. I want to get a bigger faster hd and clone my drive with ez-gig,

Will it work as is or do i have to re-activate it even though the clone should already have all that info?
Pls don't tell me i have to start over with a new drive and enter all my settings and programs.

I also have a hd image file. If i have to do a new reinstall can i then overwrite it will the saved image file?

I want my xp back!!!

Thanks for your help.

If you clone your drive using something like Acronis Trueimage, you should not need to reactivate or reinstall any of your programs. However, I recommend making a backup of all of your data before changing the drive, just to be safe.

ABR

Thank you a great tool, helped me immensely, i now have Vista 64 bit installed on my pc that i purchased from Dell which had arrived pre-installed with a 32 bit oem Vista ultimate.. and after reading so many threads that wrongly said i could not install a 64 bit without getting a disc from the manufacturer or ordering from Microsoft (Although i don't think M/S supports oem), i just used a Vista DVD and installed the 64 bit using this software to activate

Tom, I had bought a laptop with pre-installed Vista Home premium SP1 and I want to upgrade to Ultimate 64bits. Can you tell me how did you do it?

If you want to upgrade to a higher version like Ultimate, you will need to buy an upgrade license from Microsoft. They have an "Anytime Upgrade" product, which is probably already installed on your Vista install. Once you get the upgrade license, you can install 32-bit or 64-bit, it does not matter.

PS. ABR will not be able to help you with the upgrade license, but it's a good idea to run ABR to backup the Home Premium license before doing the upgrade.

Is there a minimum of a chance that ABR will someday also work with windows server 2008?

gbb

I don't know if Windows 2008 uses the same kind of activation as Vista. If it does, ABR might support it eventually.

[...] leicht deaktiviert werden. Wenn Du eine Vista OEM-Version hast, dann hilft Dir das hier weiter: ABR (Activation Backup and Restore) | directedge.us Wie man ein OEM-Vista installiert und aktiviert (bei Systemen mit BIOS-SLIC), findest Du [...]

[...] (especially in bootup time.) All you need is a copy of the Vista Anytime Upgrade DVD. There is a third party utility which saves your OEM activation data to a text file and then re-activates it after you're finished [...]

[...] (especially in bootup time.) All you need is a copy of the Vista Anytime Upgrade DVD. There is a third party utility which saves your OEM activation data to a text file and then re-activates it after you're finished [...]

how but windows 7, will work

I have not done any investigation on Windows 7 to see if it will work. As Windows 7 gets closer, this is something I will probably look into.

[...] ABR : bisa didownload di sini [...]

[...] Vista Activation Backup & Restore [OEM only] - Today, 06:37 tips ini dikhususkan untuk pengguna PC atau lappie yang udah include Vista OEM didalamnya (hanya untuk OEM version, bukan retail dan laennya). pernah ngerasa males ga sih, vista bawaan beli udah keisi ama aplikasi-aplikasi manufaktur yang bjibun dan bikin bete. mo coba clean install tapi cuman dikasih DVD recovery, atau ga dapat DVD recovery (tipikal acer yang make disk to dick revocery) dan cuman dapat DVD anytime upgrade. pengen coba insatll ulang agak susah kan. pa lagi yang sering eksperimen make OS laen bikin ragu kalo udah ada bawaan OEM di lappie/PC. sempat googling, nemu aplikasi yang mantap nih, Activation backup & restore, dengan make aplikasi ini bisa backup aktivasi Vista OEM dan di estore kapan aja (in case of clean install) what you need :ABR : bisa didownload di sini [...]

[...] This app could be abused but it has  major legal implications. You can download this utility here… I am only promoting this app for legal use with clean Vista installs on new machines with oem [...]

[...] Vista Activation Backup & Restore [OEM only] - Today, 11:40 tips ini dikhususkan untuk pengguna PC atau lappie yang udah include Vista OEM didalamnya (hanya untuk OEM version, bukan retail dan laennya). pernah ngerasa males ga sih, vista bawaan beli udah keisi ama aplikasi-aplikasi manufaktur yang bjibun dan bikin bete. mo coba clean install tapi cuman dikasih DVD recovery, atau ga dapat DVD recovery (tipikal acer yang make disk to dick revocery) dan cuman dapat DVD anytime upgrade. pengen coba insatll ulang agak susah kan. pa lagi yang sering eksperimen make OS laen bikin ragu kalo udah ada bawaan OEM di lappie/PC. sempat googling, nemu aplikasi yang mantap nih, Activation backup & restore, dengan make aplikasi ini bisa backup aktivasi Vista OEM dan di estore kapan aja (in case of clean install) what you need :ABR : bisa didownload di sini [...]

Can you describe how ABR performs the backup and recovery process? I would like to learn how do the procedure manually. Which files and information would I need to backup?

Hi,

can I extract with ABR the activation directly from the recovery disk or recovery partition? I have both, but cannot install from them due to an error with the bootmgr (msg 0x4001001300001002). So can I make a clean install with another media and then use abr to extract productkey and activation from the recovery disk/partition and use them on the clean installation?

[...] Or a Vista Anytime upgrade DVD (this needs to be 64-bit). 2) A program called ABR (available from here, you want the .EXE file as I had trouble with the .ZIP one) 3) A USB Memory key. 4) The original [...]

I have Vista Business w/ SP1 32 bit which came from my school (CD says "For use only by students and faculty"). Right now it is installed and activated on my computer. However, I'm going to upgrade my hardware and need 64 bit (Got a Core 2 Duo, new mobo, 6 GB RAM, etc). I went to the MS website to order the 64 bit disc with my key, but it said "no offer found." Does this mean my Vista key is an "OEM" key? When I put in the new hardware I plan on doing a completely clean (i.e. format HDD) install. I understand I should obtain a Vista Anytime Upgrade DVD and will install the Business version again.

Should I do a clean install after my hardware install with the 32 bit version I have now, then run ABR, then install the 64 bit business? Will that work for me? Thanks for the help guys; I just want to make sure this will work before I end up without a computer to do my work on.

I'm not sure what key you have, as there may be other types of licenses as well. It sounds like your license is probably an educational license, which probably would not qualify for them to send you a 64-bit disc.

As far as upgrading your computer goes, it does not sound like an upgrade, but a new computer. If you change everything like the CPU, mobo, etc... but only keep the case, that's still a new computer. It's only what's inside that counts. You should check the license terms and see if you are allowed to move the license to a new computer.

The first thing you should do now is run ABR to backup, however I don't think it will work. ABR is for OEM installations only, so the Vista you are using right now would have to have been installed at the factory. It will not work if you installed it yourself or someone else (like at the school or something) installed it. Only if HP, IBM, Dell, etc... installed it.

Even if it does work to backup, it will almost certainly not work when you restore on the new hardware, since you will have changed the mother board and with it the BIOS. Again, you're getting a whole new computer, not "upgrading" the one you have.

I understand what you're saying, but what if I put my new comp together, then install the 32 bit business version I have. Then use ABR w/ the new hardware. Would that then work? When I did this install, I wiped my HDD clean, installed XP 32 bit, then used my Vista Business CD (from school) to upgrade to Vista Premium, albeit 32 bit. So no, it's not a Dell, HP, etc. install, but since my key doesn't work on the MS marketplace site (which I understand all retail keys will), I can only assume it's an "OEM-style" key. Does that make any sense?

Since you installed it yourself, it is not an OEM installation, so ABR will not work. ABR is only made for OEM installations. However, you should have no problems installing the 64-bit version using the same key you have now, but ABR cannot help. Keys are not locked to 32bit or 64bit, so you can install it and then you will have to activate normally (internet or by phone).

[...] ABR : bisa didownload di sini [...]