Has your computer reached the point where you are forced to reinstall Windows? It’s a painful point to reach, but it happens to just about everybody! Whether it is uncontrollable spyware, a deadly virus, or simply too many programs installed over the years, a fresh install of Windows can make things a million times better.
Working in IT myself, I find that I have to reinstall Windows at least every 6 months to a year. It simply gets too slow because of all the registry changes and modifications. And it’s also great if you got a used computer from somewhere and you would rather wipe it clean and start fresh.
The only issue with re-installing Windows is that you have to be careful about the reactivation process. By default, if you use the OEM CD that came with your computer when you first bought it, re-installing Windows should be a breeze and you won’t have to reactivate.
However, this may not always be the case. If you don’t use the original CD that came with the computer, you may have to re-activate. Also, sometimes even when you use the same CD, it may not force you to re-activate XP.
You can avoid having to reactivate XP by simply copying a file from your Windows directory and saving it on a USB stick, floppy drive, or CD. When you first activated Windows, XP creates a file called “WPA.DBL” and stores it in the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 directory.
Now copy this file to some sort of external storage device and keep it in a safe place. When you go to reinstall Windows, you’ll reach the point where you have to activate. Decline the activation and complete the installation.
Now you’ll need to restart your computer in Safe Mode by pressing F8 on startup to get into the Advanced Boot Options menu.
Go to C:\Windows\System32 and you should see a file called WPA.DBL already there. Simply rename it to something like WPA.BACKUP and then copy your backup version of WPA.DBL to the current location.
Restart the computer and Windows should now be activated and working fine. Remember that this will only work if you use the WPA.DBL file on the same computer that it was originally activated on. If you install XP on a different machine and try to copy the WPA.DBL file there, it won’t activate. Basically, XP looks at the hardware of the computer to create a unique profile for just that one computer.