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

The original laptop came with Vista Home Premium SP1 pre-installed. It is possible to use a Vista Ultimate SP2 to reinstall the system using ABR?

Yes, that should work fine

If I use ABR to backup the key/cert from a Win7 Home Premium 64-bit, then install Win7 Ultimate 64-bit and restore the key/cert with ABR, will I then have a fully functioning Win7 Ultimate? Or will it revert back to Home Premium? TIA.

No, Windows will detect the problem and will probably go into 30-day evaluation mode for Ultimate.

Tried this for Win7-x64 RTM and it doesn't work. Tried restoring after clean install. Didn't give an error msg, went smoothly but when checking System, there was no more product keys, even after rebooting!

[...] Download ABR v1.7 Beta 1 | Visit ABR Official Website [...]

[...] you can only reinstall with Home Premium. You can, however, switch between 32-bit and 64-bit. ABR (Activation Backup and Restore) | directedge.us [...]

[...] Download ABR from here. [...]

[...] Download ABR v1.7 Beta 1 | Visit ABR Official Website [...]

ABR Beta With Windows 7 Support
It's worked on win7 x64, Great, Thanks

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

So, I have Windows 7 home premium which is pre-installed on my new laptop.. i dont recieved any windows recovery disc from ir.. i want to do clean install this laptop.. so is this the program i need to do the clean install??and if yes, did someone have done it successfully using this?? thanks

You can use this program to backup and restore the product key and activation only. You will need to get a Windows 7 home premium DVD to obtain the actual windows install files.

Beta seems to have worked to convert a pre-installed Win 7 to 64 bit on a Samsung laptop.

Failed to make cert file turned off anti-virus ran as administrator still failed what do I do now?

If you're on Win7, are you using the ABR beta version? Also, ABR only works with OEM installs, so if you installed Windows yourself, or someone built the computer for you and installed it from a boxed version instead of a major OEM, it will not work.

No I have a Toshiba Laptop that came with Vista Home Premium installed. I did need to get a new hard drive installed a few months ago.

When you installed the new drive, how was the system transferred over to the new drive? If it was a new Windows install, it may not have been installed using the OEM discs. If that's the case, there's not much that can be done to make ABR work.

Thank you for the reply I didn't do the repair work it was given to a computer repair specialist to do so I don't know what he did. I was just thinking about doing the reinstall to get rid of all the Toshiba programs as I never use any of them.Not really a problem to just leave them there. (Just junk that's all)
Good program though already recommended it to others. Thanks.

I tried to backup the activation of my Vista Ultimate 32bit SP2.
I received an error 'it could not find' some kind of certificate and there were several script errors ?¿?

I have had reports of this once in a while, but cannot determine the cause. Try these things to see if it helps:
- disable antivirus before you run the backup program
- try to download ABR again, as the program might be corrupt
- When you run the backup, right-click on it and select "Run as administrator"

I can confirm that the beta version with Windows 7 support definitely works with Lenovo OEM images of Windows 7 Professional.

It successfully backed up the information from a Win 7 Pro 32b, allowing me to successfully activate a clean Win 7 Pro 64b install.

Thank you so much!!! My computer is clean and tidy now! And legitimate, I must say.

[...] Download the program called ABR short for Activation back and restore and follow its instructions here: Now here are the links. You must remove the ei.fg file in order to unlock all versions of windows [...]

Nice utility. Tested 1.7b1 with Windows 7 Pro 32-bit on Motion Computing J3400 slate. Worked fine.

I'd like to request that you make the version of the new beta part of either the link or the filename, so that when I check back, it will be obvious if there is a newer beta. Also, how about an MD5 checksum for the beta file, too, just like the 1.0 release? I was little nervous downloading it without that extra bit of assurance.

was wondering if this has been confirmed to work with OEM Vista SP2 (was an integrated SP1 which is now updated to SP2)...would I need to remove all the SP2 and other updates prior to ABR backup of My SLIC activation.

I wanted to run Win7 but fancied keeping the OEM Vista Activation..just incase I sold the laptop and wanted to keep the Win7 for Myself.

handy tool this nonetheless

Yes, it works with all versions of Vista and service packs.

I purchased the DVD OEM version of Windows 7 Home Premium and I used ABR 1.7 beta for backing-up my OS infos... the tool ABR BackUp backed-up only the product-key since this is a OEM installation and there isn't a certificate. I reinstalled Windows 7 Home Premium and I used ABR Restore that gived me an error: certificate not found... press enter to exit or something like this... I suspect that your utility cannot restore OEM OS without certificate... I used the telephone activation. I used "slui.exe 4" to enter in mode telephone activation. Please... give me an update of your tools. Bye bye.

If you purchased the DVD yourself and did the initial installation, you would have had to activate by phone or online. ABR is not meant for this type of activation -- only the activation that comes pre-installed with a computer from a big company, like Dell, HP, etc...

All installations have a certificate, some are obtained via phone or online activation, and others are pre-installed by the OEM. ABR only works with the pre-installed kind.

If you reinstall again, you will have to activate by phone or online, just as you did the first time.

[...] is to backup the activation info prior to the re-installation of the OS using a program called Activation Backup & Restore and then restore it afterwards once Windows is up and running. This saves you from having to find [...]

I recently bought a new acer laptop which came with windows 7 home premium 64 bit but I wanted 32 bit so I reformatted and partitioned the drive, reinstalled win 7 32 bit and used ABR to reinstall the activation and it worked perfectly. MANY THANKS!!

Excellent tool!! I've backed up my OEM Vista and restored it successfully, but my question is, can I back up the activation that I've restored in the new Vista? I've deleted the OEM installation.

Once you've backed it up there is no reason to back it up again. Those files can be used to restore the next time you reinstall.

I no longer have the backup files... :-O

Yes, you should be able to backup again from your new install, and this time save the files. What purpose is there to not save them? It's obviously something that will be useful to have in the future if you install again.

[...] Incorruptible Join Date: Jun 2009 Location: Kolkata Posts: 1,347 Use this file for backing up your activation . Then follow the links to install a clean Windows 7 ( the same [...]

Works like a charm for OEM Windows 7 Home Premium. Great tool to help with clean install of my new ASUS laptop!

I'd like to use your software by my win7 OEM installation does not want to boot anymore and I did not have time to burn recovery DVD's.

So I wonder if you could tell me how to do the activation backup offline (without actually booting windows).

I presume it just copies the files from one place to another, so it should be doable offline (I have access to windows partition in question).

Thank you.

You can locate the tokens.dat file which is in a hidden directory under C:\Windows. Obtaining the product key is more difficult since it's inside the registry. You will need to find a program that can read the registry files directly, and then look for the DigitalProductID for Windows. I can't help you with that.

Hi, I have a big problem because this tool doesn't works here, say error line 163... any ideas?

Make sure you are running on an OEM version of Windows installed by a large company (HP, Dell, etc...)
Redownload and try again.
Disable anti-virus software
Make sure it is running as administrator

If that doesn't work please copy/paste the error message here.

I downloaded the ARBbeta version for Windows 7 from the link on this site. When I run it, I get a message stating that it can't run as an archive. When I clock OK it terminates. I tried it in both Windows 7 and XP with the same result. I have used ARBbeta for Windows Vista successfully, so I am familiar with what to expect. Can you help?

Try to download it again as it could be a corrupt download. Also make sure to disable antivirus when you run it.

As suggested, I tried a new download, several times, always with the same error. I have had UAC disabled for some time. I double checked to be sure it is still off. Here is the exact message I get.

The title bar of the message window says " 7-Zip diagnostic messages:"

Message text:
Can not open file 'D:\Archive\Windows 7\ABRbeta.exe' as archive

Note I stored the executable in directory 'D:\Archive\Windows 7\

I also tried it on a different computer with Windows XP and got the same result.

One final point my Windows 7 is 64 bit, Windows XP is 32 bit.

Make sure to disable antivirus programs. Also, if you are downloading using a download manager or something that might interfere, try without it. The file you are downloading may be getting corrupted somehow.

Also, save the file to your desktop instead of your D: drive folder. There could be other permissions problems there, as it looks like you've customized your filesystem layout a bit.

Thx !! AFTER disablling UAC it worked perfectly on my new Acer (Wiondows 7 Starter).

As I understand ABR cannot be made to work with activations made online, only with OEM installs. Is there some technical hurdle to doing this? Are there any other programs that can do this? (I see a problem in that I could possibly get the activation information from one computer and use it in another computer while still having the original computer online, thus having two computers working with the same activation simultaneously.) The problem is I have several 1-time-use keys obtained through my college, and they cannot be activated after a reinstall. So the only solution I see for the time being is to make a 1:1 image of the hard disk just after installing and updating. This would be problematic if I were to change any hardware, though. Any ideas?

If you locate the "tokens.dat" file and save a copy of it, as well as the key, you should be able to restore that file and the key after you reinstall and get the activation back.

thanks for the quick reply!., So I have found those two files, do I still use abr beta, or are you saying I just replace the tokens file manually, (then presumably, it'd ask me for the key, and i'd put it in)? I notice also for ABR that a certificate is backed up as well, so that certificate is not necessary for non-oem installs?

Once you have the tokens.dat file and the product key, you don't need to use ABR. You will have to enter the key manually when you reinstall, then then manually restore the tokens.dat file. You can also add the key by changing it in the System control panel or by using slmgr at the command line. Use google.

I'm curious to understand this a bit more, would it be at all possible to take a look at the source code?