How to Transfer Windows XP Activation Information

How to reinstall Windows XP without having to reactivate with Microsoft

What to Know

  • Go to C:\Windows\System32 > select Show the contents > copy wpa.dbl and wpa.bak to safe location.
  • Reinstall > select No for proceeding with activation > F8 > replace wpa.dbl and wpa.bak with previous copies.

This article explains the steps needed to save and restore Windows XP activation status information.

April 8, 2014, was the last day Microsoft issued security and non-security updates to Windows XP. With the operating system no longer being supported, Microsoft suggests that users upgrade to the newest version of Windows. This article is for reference purposes only.

Save Activation Status Information in Windows XP

Follow the steps below to save the activation status information in Windows XP and restore it once you rebuild your system.

These steps won't work for transferring activation information from one computer to another, or if you alter the hardware because the information contained in your "wpa.dbl" file will not match the configuration of the machine. This trick is only for reinstalling Windows XP on the same computer after formatting the hard drive.

  1. In Windows Explorer, double-click My Computer.

  2. Double-click the C drive.

  3. Go to the C:\Windows\System32 folder. You may have to select Show the contents of this folder first.

  4. Find the files "wpa.dbl" and "wpa.bak" and copy them to a safe location. You can copy them on a floppy drive or burn them to a CD or DVD.

  5. After you have reinstalled Windows XP on your reformatted hard drive, click No when asked if you want to proceed with the activation process.

  6. Press the F8 key to access the Advanced Boot Options menu to reboot your computer into SafeMode.

  7. Double-click My Computer.

  8. Double-click the C drive.

  9. Go to the C:\Windows\System32 folder. You may have to select Show The contents of this folder.

  10. Find the "wpa.dbl" and "wpa.bak" file and rename them "" and ""

  11. Copy your original "wpa.dbl" and "wpa.bak" files from your floppy disk, CD, or DVD into the C:\Windows\System32 folder.

  12. Restart your system. If you started Windows XP in SafeMode, you might need to go back into MSCONFIG to turn off booting into SafeMode.

Windows XP is now reinstalled on your reformatted hard drive.

Reactivating Your Microsoft Product

Users who reformat their hard drives and perform a clean operating system installation must reactivate the product. But, as long as the new installation is on the same system and there won't be any hardware changes, it is possible to transfer the existing product activation and skip going through the product activation process again.

What Is Product Activation?

Software piracy is rampant, and Microsoft is the target for a large percentage of theft due to its dominance in the market. The company has a right to stop or at least control that privacy. Product activation seems to be a fair way of ensuring that only legitimate software owners benefit from using it.

Product activation monitors the system configuration. If it detects a significant hardware change or too many minor hardware changes within a set number of days, it crosses the threshold and requires reactivation.

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