Tip: Save Windows Activation Files Before Reinstall

Filed under: — By Aviran Mordo @ 9:45 am

Like any windows machine at some point you’ll need to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows XP. If you didn’t prepare for that you’ll need to reactivate your Windows XP.

Now if you do not want all the hassle of reactivation you can save your old activation files and use them in your clean system (as long as you didn’t make any hardware changes).

Follow these steps.

Backup your activation files:

1. Open Windows explorer and navigate to C:\Windows\System32
2. Copy the files Wpa.dbl and Wpa.bak to another media floppy, CD-R or another hard drive (if you have more than one installed)

Now you can reformat your drive and reinstall Windows XP.

At the end of the installation, when Windows asks you to activate your product, decline and do not activate.

Restore your activation files

1. Restart your system, and as your system boots up press F8 to access the boot options (Windows Advanced Options)
2. From the menu options select to start Windows in safe mode (minimal)
3. After Windows loads in safe mode, open Windows explorer and navigate back to C:\Windows\System32
4. If you find the files Wpa.dbl and Wpa.bak in this folder, rename the files to something like Wpa.dbl.backup and Wps.bak.backup
5. Copy your original Wpa.dbl and Wpa.bak from the CD or floppy back to C:\Windows\System32
6. Restart Windows

You should now have a clean and activated Windows XP


27 Responses to “Tip: Save Windows Activation Files Before Reinstall”

  1. question Says:

    what if you don’t have the wpl.bak file and only the wpl.dbl in the sys32 folder

  2. bering Says:

    Yeah, same thing here. Only a wpl.dbl file available. What to do?

  3. David Says:

    Since the .bak one is just a backup, I guess you can just ignore that.

  4. Mike Says:

    When you format the drive, use FAT32 or you will get the message “nddr not ffound” You can sellect format to NTFS when you reinstall. If you into networking your PCs. Then can you install Windows on all your PCs and activate thm as you go.

  5. marco Says:

    a friend of mine installed me a copy of his own original windows cd ( he had already registed his copy ). we installed windows and he asked to activate. we went to internet and got a crack for it and inserted that key code and the windows “said” thay was now activated, but now and can’t enter my session. what can i do?

  6. Bob Says:

    Followed the steps but it doesn’t work. Same computer same config - exactly. Just reformatted and re-installed after a major spam attack. Has it ever worked for anyone? I’ve tried twice.

  7. XP_Whizz Says:

    What’s the point? I mean, after approx. three months, Microsoft gets rid of your activation information (I think it has something to do with storing data about individuals). After that period you can re-activate Windows, and it really only takes a couple of seconds, plus you have thirty days to do it, so it’s not like it’s a pain or really worth the effort.

    The only real reason you may want to do this, is if you install Windows, activate it, realiase you’ve made some major error, and then re-install again immediately, you then can’t activate. Even if you do cock it up, there is a free phone number (in the UK at least) that allows you to perform manual activation, and surprisingly they seem to be open all hours, I’ve tried it.

    To be fair however, you’re unlikely to activate Windows and then decide you need to re-install. The only use this is for is pirates… Just buy a bloody copy.

  8. Steve Says:

    XP_Whizz says: “The only use this is for is pirates.”

    Clearly XP_Whizz is actually XP_Wrong. This is a perfectly legitimate strategy for preserving your activation on THE SAME HARDWARE. If it was useful for pirating XP, it would have to be effective on variable hardware, which it is not.

    Further, it is MUCH quicker than phoning that damn number and talking to some idiot in Bangladesh. I have had them hang up on me for no reason, talk so fast I couldn’t understand them etc.

    For those of us who build our own workstations and constantly revise them, this is an ongoing irritant. If you don’t know what you are talking about, and don’t want to appear ignorant, say nothing.

  9. David Says:

    Just go to system32 folder and change wpa.dbl to wpa.noact and wpa.bak or the one with the keys to wpa.dbl in safe mode and then restart your done no activation required

  10. Sean Says:

    worked good ..thanks for that david : )

  11. gaute Says:

    Thanks David. Will I still be able to use automatic windows updates?

  12. Bronco Says:

    I am with steve, I have been building computers for 12 years now, I found an easy way to make this permanete make an ISO copy and add the files to the CD. You will need to make an unatended file that will automatically copy them when installation is done. this will work as long as you keep the same harddrive (becuase bleepsoft uses the harddrive I/O address for activation)

    if anyone has issues with this let me know thanks for the file locations Dave it made my life easier

  13. sachin Says:

    what if i get the message that i have activated mine window xp more than the recommended times

  14. white_ravn Says:

    Thanks for the info, David. To XP_WHIZZ: My laptop crashes frequently… the need to refomat comes about 1/month. This helps me reload windows without having to deal with calling microsoft. So, this is useful for people with pos laptops, not just pirates!

  15. Michael Says:

    I did this, and now when I turn Windows on I must activate before I log in. What did I do wrong?

  16. Ami Says:

    can u pl send me the evidence as to when we try saving .ppt files in windows xp a dialog box prompts us to save the file,whereas it is not the case in windows 2000….why???

  17. Clyde Says:

    my windows is requiring me to activate before i log in however when i click activate it says that windows is already activated ….then i click ok and it logs me off the computer …what can i do?

  18. Joe90 Says:

    Thanks to david for the tip :)

  19. Cambion7 Says:

    I actually tried this, and it did not work for me. I had installed XP SP-2, phoned the activation line because my hash changed (new sata hard disk and video card). I imaged my activated installation, then copied my WPA.DBL and WPA.BAK files to a floppy. Formatted my hard disk, installed Windows XP anew, used a VolumeID proggie to put my Volume ID to what it was when I activated, rebooted twice, the second time went into safe mode. Renamed the existing files, copied over the “activated files” rebooted into normal mode, and activation was still required.

    I’ve been building computers for 16 years myself, and this is my first time dealing with the Windows XP activation nightmare.

  20. xtech Says:

    Cambion7–And you didn’t use the activated image CD because? If you have been producing systems for 16 years you must be old enough to stop calling programs “proggies”.

  21. kevin Says:

    Does this trick work for Vista as well?

  22. Aviran Mordo Says:

    Don’t know, I try to stay away from Vista as far as I can

  23. Junaid Says:

    I’m not able to find any wpa.bak file in system32 folder
    plz tell me how can i save my geniune windows copy before formatting my hardisk

  24. daren Says:

    no solution yet. it means this the only file of ms not yet cracked.
    use antwpa
    that gives u life time solution

  25. daren Says:


  26. Systemic Says:


    Yes, no doubt however you can undo the nightmare vista lays down on your boot sector. Just acquire an old start up disk with fdisk on it.
    If you don’t have a floppy Xcopy the image and make a bootable cd. use fdisk to remove the vista partition and you will be able to access your boot sector again with older OS. peace.

  27. kamal Says:

    windows rejisterto computer dont format who to windows rejister

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