Backing up Windows Product Activation file

What is Windows Product Activation?

Windows Product Activation is an anti piracy alpha numeric key
used to validate an installed copy of Microsoft Windows Operating System.

It was introduced with Windows 2000 because of the
rise of piracy with software.

What it does is, it makes sure the copy of Windows installed
is legal. That the copy is not pirated. Basically.

Every time you reinstall the operating system you must re-validate
your copy.

If you install more hardware, you must re-validate.
by hardware i mean, other than optical drives and RAM and peripherals (keyboard mice, etc)
If you switch the Motherboard, Video Card,
Sound Card, etc. Big items.

If the file that maintains it gets corrupted,
you must re-validate it.

The point is, you can back this file up manually
when you get ready to install more hardware
or uninstall hardware from your computer so that
you don’t have to keep validating.

You can do this for going back and forth.
Or testing hardware.

WPA.DBL – The Keeper of the Keys (windows product activation database log)

You’ll need to locate and backup the wpa.dbl file
that sides on the local primary hard drive, in the
\Windows\system32 directory.

This file holds the hardware configuration information
and activation state of the current Windows installation.
The WPA.DBL file is actually an RC4-encrypted database
of the expiration info of your installation, the confirmation
of activation, the hardware configuration at activation time,
and the current hardware configuration.

WPA.DBL – The Keeper of the Keys (windows product activation database log)

When you first install Windows, this file is approximately 2K in size.
When you activate Windows, this file grows to approximately 12K-13K,
recording the hardware status of your machine.

At each boot, Windows analyzes your current hardware and
compares it to the stored configuration information it has to see if it
has changed. When you make hardware changes, Windows makes
a note of the changes in the WPA file, but keeps the original
configuration for reference. If you make too many changes, Windows
will reset the WPA.DBL file back to its original non-activated (2K file size)
state, and you have to reactivate.

As mentioned above, the WPA.DBL file can be backed up to permit
activation if you reload Windows. You can also experiment with
different hardware configurations. You would back up WPA.DBL for
each configuration change, so you can roll back whenever desired,
similar to what developers may do frequently, as mentioned above.
If you save a copy of the WPA.DBL file at each change of hardware,
you can roll back to almost any state.

I mention this because if the file does become corrupted
or reset or deleted, using Windows System Restore will not
restore the wpa.dbl file to it’s validated size (12-13k).

So manually backing up this file to a safe location is
an easier method if you will be doing multiple configurations
with your computer.

NOTE: If you have a valid legal copy of Microsoft Windows,
validating it over the internet is real easy these days.
If you have no internet and must use the phone, validation is
still easy, as long you have the Certificate Of Authentication key
handy. You will get an automated voice to guide you through
the process and validate your copy. Shouldn’t take long.

NOTE: The WPA.DBL file was not protected similar to other system files.
If you delete the file, you need to reactivate.

NOTE: The WPA.DBL is not included in Windows XP’s system restore utility.

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