How many times can I reinstall a store-bought OEM Windows XP Home SP3? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I am thinking about buying a couple of copies of Windows XP Home SP3 OEM (http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/PID-MX21800(ME).aspx).

    I like to reinstall my OS frequently (maybe once every couple of months). I have heard some rumours that, when you do a clean reinstall (i.e. reformat hard disk), you may have to use telephone activation instead of internet activation. Is this true? Is there a limit to the number of times you can reinstall before having to use telephone activation?

    Thank you.
    Thursday, November 12, 2009 7:36 PM


  • Hello b.v.,

    After an unspecified number of installations within an unspecified period of time, the Microsoft Product Activation servers will no longer automatically activate that product key using the normal online activation, and instead will cause the display of an error message along the lines of "this product has been activated too many times."  From that point on, that particular product key will have to be activated using the automated or manual telephone activation system.

    If you like to reinstall your Windows a lot, you can work around this situation by doing a base installation of Windows on your computer, then take a disc image of that installation with a disc imaging program such as Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image, or the free DriveImage XML, among many others.  Then, the next time you would have done a fresh installation, just reimage the computer, and you accomplish your goal of a fresh installation of Windows in 1/4 of the time and with no activation hassles.
    For great advice on all topics XP, visit http://www.annoyances.org/exec/forum/winxp
    Friday, November 13, 2009 2:04 AM