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

ABRBeta working with Win 7 Ultimate x64!

I've just backed up and then restored my previously OEM activation in a new fresh Windows 7 Ultimate x64 installation in a MSI laptop.

Thanks for this tool!!

I am not able to extract ABRBeta.exe on a Windows 7 64bit HP laptop. I keep gettng "Can not open C:\ABRBeta.exe as archive"

Try to download the file again. It sounds like it is corrupt

Thought I'd share my experience trying to do a clean install.

I was able to use your Win 7 beta program to successfully reactivate Win 7 Professional after doing a clean install on my new Lenovo laptop, using the OEM key that came with the laptop.

To reinstall, I only had a Win 7 Home Premium OEM install disc that I'd purchased several months ago to upgrade my old laptop when Windows 7 first came out. Unfortunately this disc would only let me install Home Premium. It would not give me a choice of versions to install.

Rather than mucking around to delete files and burn a new disc without the OEM folder etc. as your instructions for Vista clean install suggest (looks like the file to delete might now be called idwbinfo.txt or something like that, instead of pid.txt), I used the Windows Anytime Upgrade feature of the Windows 7 OS to upgrade to Windows Professional, entering the OEM key extracted from the new laptop using your ABR program. I was then able to activate the upgraded OS by restoring the activation using your program, so that I can use the OS version and key that came with my new laptop. Hopefully this is equivalent to if I had been able to directly install the correct version of the OS as I'd wanted to.

Thanks for making this information and the program available. There was so much extra crapware that Lenovo had included, I am glad to be able to clear that out to improve the performance of this machine that I paid a lot of money for!

Thanks for sharing. That was a clever way to get around the issue; good thinking on that.

The file is now called "ei.cfg" if you ever decide to reburn the DVD.

[...] blog awhile back and there is a beta version for windows 7 out now.. full details can be found here http://directedge.us/content/abr-act...up-and-restore Last edited by JayCub; 4 Minutes Ago at 11:21 PM. An idea that is developed and put into [...]


I'm on a VIAO which have a pre-installed Genuine Window 7 Home Preimium,

When I run your ABR Beta which is applicable for Win 7, It reveal a diffrent key and there is no match of this number which is printed at the bottom of the laptop Authintication sticker.

I can't provide the key here,but belive me they are completly different.

Why ? This laptop was purchased from Geniune Sony Retialer and the box opened infront of me(which is sealed by the way),so there is no chance any temparing.

Can anyone have any answer...I'm a little bit worried

This is normal. When an OEM mass-produces computers, they use a key given to them just for that purpose. The key is different from the sticker because it would be impossible to match them up in a factory.

[...] for your windows7 key printed on back of your laptop,thats all. or else you can use this guide: ABR (Activation Backup and Restore) | directedge.us Reply With Quote + Reply to Thread  Bookmark  Email   [...]

his does not work with OEM SP2. BUT I am trying to manually copy the Token.dat and pkeyconfig.xrm-ms.

If you could be more specific about what is not working, that would help. Otherwise, all I can say is that it should work on SP2 (I assume you mean Vista since Win7 SP2 is not out yet), and that I have not heard any other reports of it not working.

I had the same problem as many others here. Trying to backup a windows 7 home premium the program only generated one file, containing the cdkey, but not the activation.

Then I realized that in my hurry I didn't scroll down, but only downloaded ABR-1.0.exe which is not for windows 7.

After downloading and running ABRbeta.exe everything worked perfectly. Maybe someone else did the same mistake as I did :)

Thank you so much for this useful little application! It really saves a lot of trouble, now I can format all I want!

Good luck!

The Beta Version did not create the backup activation certificate, only the backup of the license key. I am using Windows 7 Home Premium (upgrade).

It only works for the original OEM installation of Windows. Since you have an upgrade version, it will not work for you.

The beta version for Windows 7 works great! You're the best, tankyou very much!

I have brand new Sony Vaio with a preinstalled genuine Win7 pro x64 (without install CD, so OEM, I suppose) and just used the beta version for ABR. This created one file with the key, but didn't create the certificate file, as one of the previous posters mentioned.

I didn't reinstalled Windows (yet) nor changed the install in any way. What am I doing wrong, why is the second file not created? TIA!

Any news on this one? I experience the same issue with my Vaio... Any help?

These are the only reports I've had about this issue, so it's hard to say. You can try the following:
- Disable anti-virus
- Right-click and run as Administrator
- Reboot into Safe Mode and try to run the backup from there
If that doesn't work Sony may have changed something in how they identify the certificate.

This doesn't work for windows 7. I tested it (win 7 ultimate 64bits).

ABR only works for original OEM installs (and if you reinstalled and restored the activation using ABR). If you tried it on a system you installed yourself, or it was an OEM version from a local store, it will not work.

delete... problem solved!

The beta version for Windows 7 worked flawless on different OEM versions, Dell, Sony, Toshiba, etc. Thanks for this great tool.

Hi all,

Is there any chance for me to back up Keys & Cert manually for Windows 7 ? I mean the Directory path or scripts .

You can try to backup the tokens.dat file, though it's not the same thing. You're on your own for they key. There are many sites and tools that allow you to get that.

I made ABR to make it easy.

downloaded the windows 7 version and upon trying to open got message - can not open file C:\users\owner\desktop\ABRbeta.exe as archive ????

Download it again. If you still have the problem, try running it with your anti-virus software disabled.

I have windows 7 ultimate
I have just install ABR Beta With Windows 7 Support
when i click on "activation_backup.exe" ( run as administrator ) , the application created only one file which is backup-key.txt and it did NOT create the other file backup-cert.xrm-ms

ABR only works with Windows installs that were done by the OEM, which means direct from the factory from Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc... If you installed Windows yourself, or you purchased from a small company who installed it for you, ABR will not work.

Let's say I get a netbook with Windows 7 Starter. I then do an anytime upgade to Win7 Pro. Down the road, I want to start over with a clean install of Win7 pro.

Should ABR work after I do the anytime upgrade to pro since an OEM starter install was done at the factory?

ABR would be able to get you back to the Starter edition, since that's the OEM install from the factory. You'd have to run the backup before you upgrade.

The upgrade process effectively converts the install to a Retail version, which will not work with ABR.

So I couldn't do a clean install of pro and then restore my pre-pro ABR backup? I'd have to do a clean install of starter, restore my ABR backup, then somehow enter the key for the Pro anytime upgrade?

Yes, to reinstall using your ABR backup you would need to follow the same process as this install (install Starter, then update to Pro). If you need to reinstall, you might be able to follow this process instead Clean Install Windows 7 with Upgrade Media.

Didn't work for me on Windows 7. Of course it also doesn't help that I have an HP Envy 14 and they did NOT put my product key on the bottom of the computer or anywhere in any materials sent with the computer. DO NOT BUY AN HP ENVY. I mean I love the computer it's great in terms of hardware and looks...But the webcam doesn't work (I imagine driver issues) and it doesn't shut down without waiting an hour for it to ultimately crash. It's terrible. Whatever HP does to Windows...It's bad. Hence why I went to repair the installation. Upon rebooting into a hopefully repaired version, it wouldn't activate. This utility DID get me my product key. Unfortunately manually entering in the product key did not work. I'm not sure if the tool did its job or not but it didn't work. At least it did leave me with a product key which is more than what HP did. Thank you for that.

Most manufacturers now put the Windows license sticker under the battery. I would look there (you need to remove the battery). If they really didn't include the license, that's a breach of contract with MS and would be very unlikely.

The key that ABR recovered will not be usable to install or activate, it can only be used with the OEM backup activation that ABR would have made. I don't know why it didn't work for you, as I had very few reports of it not working, so you will have to use the key under the battery and will have to call MS on the phone to activate it.

Shutdown/sleep issues are almost always related to drivers. Make sure you install all drivers from the HP web site, even if the default drivers seem to work. Default drivers only give basic functionality and often don't support sleep mode.

Worked well with Asus notebook with Windows 7 Home Premium x64. Thanks a lot!

I have reinstalled Win7and want to do it again. I saved my original c: drive in a Windows Image Backup (VBD file). If I mount that drive can I use ABR and have it look at a different drive than the regular c: drive?


You cannot use ABR but will have to do it manually. This is not the best method. If you mount the VBD file and find a file called "tokens.dat", you can save it and copy it to the same location in your current install. You will also need to get the serial number (which is NOT the one on the Windows sticker). That's hidden in the registry somewhere and would probably be much harder to get than the tokens.dat file.

Your other option would be to backup your current installation and then restore the old one. Run ABR to backup from there, then restore your current install again.

I have just purchased Win7 OEM DVD Still sealed.
Now when i decide to intall this on my Custom PC i will have to activate it, Here is my dilema being a OEM install this will of cause lock it to my system and can not be installed on another, So if at some point i buy another Motherboard can i use the ABR or will this be tied to the one install on

No, ABR will not work for this. There are 2 kinds of OEM activation, ones that ONLY come with machines from big vendors with preinstalled Windows, and ones that you typically buy from a smaller computer shop. ABR only works with the ones you buy from the large computer makers like Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc...

Backed up both key and activation no problem.

HP Pavilion dv6, Windows 7 Home Premium.