ABR (Activation Backup and Restore)

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.


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

I used my recovery discs to go back to my original factory 32-bit Vista Home Premium SP1 install, then ran activation_backup.exe, then did a clean install of 64-bit Vista Home Premium SP2, then ran activation_restore.exe. It worked fine - it's now activated, which wasn't possible using the Product Key on the COA (it would only activate 32-bit Vista).

[...] om telefonisch te activeren, maak je best even een backup van je activatie. Zo gaat u tewerk: 1. Download ABR vanaf de website en plaats dit op een extern medium (voorbeeld USB-stick). 2. Open dit bestand en [...]

Can this software backup activation from winpe based recovery like vistape? just in case windows crash.

I have not tested it in a winpe environment, so I don't know. In order for it to work, the environment would need to be read/write, and also would have to have the machine's registry mounted as if it were the real system running. I don't think winpe does that.

I just wanted to thank you for this great utility. It certainly saves a lot of hassle when someone needs to re-install Vista.

Thanks! Been looking how to backup the activation cert in Vista. Appreciate your post :)

It is possible to use ABR with any other operating systems. If so,can you tell me the procedure?

No. ABR only works for Windows Vista.

Thanks for providing us with the useful information on ABR backup for Windows Vista. I think I am going to check it out, could be very helpful if my PC crashes again. I don't have much know-how regarding data backup and recovery but want to make my data as safe as possbile and I think this ABR could be something worth downloading.

I purchased an OEM Vista Ultimate - 32 Bit version. My PC is not a branded one - it's an assembled one. However, the OEM version (which I bought and downloaded off the net) is working well. My question is, can I use ABR to migrate to the 64 Bit version of Ultimate?

I await your response!


If you installed Vista yourself and typed in a product key when you installed it, the answer is no, it won't work for you. ABR only works with Vista installations that were done at the factory before you purchased the computer. *IF* your install was done at the factory, then yes, it does work if you want to switch to 64-bit.

my laptop came with basic but i upgrade to premium and i wanna do a clean install will it work

Sorry, ABR will not be able to help you in this case.

[...] Visit Vista Activation Backup and Restore [...]

[...] Visit Vista Activation Backup and Restore [...]

[...] Visit Vista Activation Backup and Restore [...]

I have a laptop which have an OEM Vista x64 Chinese version. My question is, it is possible to use ABR after I've installed VISTA x64 OEM English version?

If you perform the backup on the installed Chinese version, then it should work when you restore on the English version.

[...] ??? ????? ???? ABR ?? [...]

[...] 32-bit and 64-bit. This tool only supports Vista and doesn?t work on XP or Windows 7. [ Visit Vista Activation Backup and Restore [...]

I have a SONY VAIO with english vista home premium SP1 and I want change it to spanish vista home premium SP1.

It will work ????

Thanks in advance


Yes, that should work just fine.

a wonderful program. it work perfect i already change to spanish and work perfect...


Thanks loads!!
Every time I buy a new laptop or desktop I instantly format & install a crapware free version of Windows. ABR makes this so much easier, & less illegal; L0l! I just got the HashString - sha1 for VISTA all versions .iso from the Microsoft TechNet website & download the torrent. Checked the file, so I got the 100% authentic non-corrupt or damaged file & just burn it to a DVD> verify after burning & install a fresh copy. Apply ABR & drivers!

I swear, runs x20 times faster without crapware.
thanks, saved me hundreds.

Also I can offer this service to my clients as I fix computers. They are very happy that there computers run so much faster then even when they bought it new..............!

Hello there,
I used this with Vista without any problem. Will you prepare a new version of this software for Windows 7 or does it support it already?

There is a message about Windows 7 support as part of the main page.

[...] Visit Vista Activation Backup and Restore ] AKPC_IDS += "111,"; [...]

[...] Visit Vista Activation Backup and Restore ] AKPC_IDS += "5650,"; Tags: Computers & Internet, vista Posted under: Computers & [...]

[...] best way to re-install the OS is with ABR. It allows you to save the activation information for your laptop and reapply it to your new clean [...]

[...] f?r Vista gibt es ein kleines tolles Sicherungsprogramm f?r OEM Hersteller Aktivierungen. Unter ABR (Activation Backup and Restore) | directedge.us die ABR-1.0.exe herunterladen und ausf?hren. Damit werden 2 Tools entpackt einmal das [...]

[...] get a retail os disk before hand and make sure you backup the activation key and certificate with ABR (Activation Backup and Restore) | directedge.us and it will be as good as a OEM pre [...]

Just wanted to say THANK YOU. Excellent utility! Well done! Be blessed!

I bought a Sony Vayo laptop with windows vista preinstalled. I had to reformat it because it wouldn't start. I tried to install windows XP but it didn't work because my computer cannot accept any earlier versions of Windows it only accepts Vista. I tryed to use the abr but it gives me this message.
Warning; File already exists
i don't know what i am doing wrong. I am not a computer genious so I don't know what I am doing really. I really need to install Vista this weekend because i have a lot of homework to do but i cannot figure it out please help.
I was also wondering if i could call microsoft and give them the number that is in the bottom of my computer and see if they can
resend me the disc or something
Please help me out people!!! I am desperate

If you ran ABR backup before you reformatted, then you should not run the backup again. You need to run the restore program after you reinstall Vista.

If you need a Vista disc, you will need to borrow one from someone. Microsoft will not send you the disc because you have an OEM version. Sony should have sent you some discs with the laptop called "Recovery Discs". You should use those to reinstall Vista on the laptop so you can get your work done.

Thanks for a great, simple to use utility. It was key to upgrading my OEM 32-bit Vista installation to retail upgrade 64-bit Windows 7. I'd like to backup my Windows 7 activation now, and would like to encourage you to pursue that.

Okay... Windows 7 has been officially released for more than a week now. I have my new Sony Vaio Z, and unfortunately it came with some crapware in Win 7. I will like to do a fresh install of Win 7, Are we going to have an updated ABR for Win7?.... Any time in the future, or if there is an alternative, can someone point me to where i can find it...

I hope to have a beta version with W7 support out sometime in the next few weeks.

[...] ??????????directedge.us ????ABR?Activation Backup and Restore??????????????ABR-1.0.exe???????????ABR-1.0.zip???????ABR-1.0.exe??????????????????????????????????????activation_backup??????????????????? [...]

As the soon to be proud owner of an HP DV8t, I was wondering if you are still a couple of weeks away on the windows 7 version?

I also had a quick question. Does ABR work on a restored version of the OEM disk? For instance, I am going to wipe windows, install linux and then use virtualbox to run windows. If I later decide to go back to a windows install, and I do a restore, Will I then be able to run ABR on the restored laptop to retrieve the activation again?

If this is true, then as long as you restore, can you always get back the activation? If this is the case, please count me in if you need any beta testers for the software.


[...] still afterwards, but in XP it was easy to back up those files for future use. In Vista, I used ARB - (Activation, Backup & Restore) which always worked a treat. Doesn't look like ARB is compatibe with Win7 yet [...]

needing a way to backup windows xp activation, currently I tryied to restore and there is a great big hole in the registry, it doesn't show the services patches installed or other software that has been previously installed now I have to format the drive and fix the issue. please I really need a way to back up the wpa files so I can in the future restore confidence in my computer use.

I only know about Vista activation. Windows XP is completely different. Search google to find info on backups for XP. I know it's out there.

Hi experts,
i have changed my hard disk from 250 GB to 500 GB
and later on installed my vista from recovery disk provided by company.
My question is can i run the ABR for activation restore.

If i am running activation restore system is showing error " the activation certificate is empty ( empty or missing backup- cert.xrm-ms ? )
Please suggest me how to overcome to this problem


After you reinstall using the recovery disk, you should then run the backup program and save all of the files it creates. When you install a clean version of Vista, you should then use the files you created and run the restore program.

If the backup-cert.xrm-ms file is empty or missing, then there was a problem when the backup was created or these steps were not followed in order.

Hi Brian,

Thanks for your reply.
One more thing i want to know can ABR-1.0 work in Dual boot also.First i installed win XP then install vista and When i am running ABR it is giving error @backup-cert.xrm-ms file is empty or missing "

Please clarfy whether ABR will work for dua boot or not.


Activation that is restored by ABR on a dual boot system should work fine, given that the initial backup process was successful. Because you are getting that error, it means that the initial backup failed. Until you can create a successful backup, you will not be able to perform a restore after reinstalling.

The only way to perform the backup is to restore the computer using the Recovery Discs, and then run the backup from that installation. It must be from the original OEM recovery discs -- it will not work if you install Vista manually and activate it online or by phone.

Hi Brian,
Once again thank you very much for your reply.
One last question i want to ask you.

1. Can you please tell me how to run the ABR effectively please provide me the steps.

2.How can i ensure that i have run a successful back.Because i am only getting for files in folder after running the ABR-1.0

Can you tell me how can i check the backup run is sucessfull.

Note :When ever i am installing vista from recovery disk in window it is not showing any validity like 30 days.Means recovery is original and it is perfect.

Also tell me while installing Retail copy vista what steps i have to do carefully actually i followed the steps mentioned by you
But not work


1) The quick steps are listed in this posting, with steps 1, 2, 3, etc... I have written an complete Vista reinstall guide which can be found here: Clean Vista Install. That information should be enough to help you through the process.

2) After you run the "activation_backup" program, 2 files will be created. Open each of those files in Notepad and make sure they both contain something. If either one of them is blank, then the backup did not work correctly. Make sure to save both of those files somewhere so you can restore with them after you reinstall.