You have thirty days to activate a new installation of Microsoft Windows XP before it stops working until you fully activate the operating system. Activation works over the Internet or phone. In both cases, an activation code needs to be entered to make the system fully functional. If you change hardware or install the operating system again, you may have to activate the product again as well which can be a big nuisance if you regularly do that. This does not make sense in my opinion but hey, they surely have an important reason for this procedure.
Now as I said earlier there is a way to reinstall Windows XP without having to activate the product again. Windows XP creates two files when the activation process has successfully completed: wpa.dbl and Wpa.bak - those two files are normally located in your system32 folder of your windows installation. You need to back them up because they hold the information that Windows is already activated.
Install Windows XP again or use a backup. After you have finished that process, and you see that Windows is not activated, start Windows in safe mode. Navigate to the system32 directory and rename the files wpa.dbl and Wpa.bak to something else, for example wpa2.dbl and Wpa2.bak.
Now copy your backed up files wpa.dbl and Wpa.bak into the folder, reboot windows and you will notice that Windows is again activated. This only works of course if you do not change relevant hardware like the motherboard for instance. If that is the case you will have to activate Windows again and there is nothing that you can do about that. source
If you prefer a software solution for the process, try Windows Reactivator. It is a free program that can backup and restore Windows XP activation information, making the whole process comfortable and less of a nuisance. Note that the program is only compatible with Windows XP and no other Microsoft operating system.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.