I have not posted an "It Fixed it for me" article in a while. Here is one that may help someone else.

Have you ever needed to reinstall your operating system due to a failed hard drive, severe virus infection or just want a fresh start but realize that you either lost your Windows 7 license key card or the sticker on the side of your computer was unreadable or missing?

This week I was asked by a client to repair a pc that was over 5 years old and the owner did not have any documentation that came with the pc. There was no Windows License sticker on the pc case. The pc with Windows 7, was hanging or stalling every few minutes and was completely unusable. At first I suspected some type of malware or virus infection. After attempting to clean it with various cleaning programs I was lead down a path of possible hardware failure.

A full system diagnostic scanned the hardware on the computer to find a failing hard drive. I ordered a new 1TB drive. While waiting for it to arrive I needed to prepare to  reinstall Windows 7 by backing up as much data as possible, downloading the correct iso file and retrieve the Windows 7 product key.

Back up as much data as possible

As this customer did not have any backup of this data (See 7 Ways to backup data for suggestions) I needed to attempt to retrieve as much as possible. I disconnected the hard drive and connected it to another pc and copied off over 100GB of user data.

Download the Windows 7 OEM iso File

As Windows came installed on the pc I had to find the Windows 7 OEM iso file to create a bootable USB drive. (The OEM iso was found a this link  Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool).

Retrieve the Windows 7 product key

To get the product key needed to activate the newly installed software I used a program called Belarc Advisor available here (https://download.cnet.com/Belarc-Advisor/3000-2094_4-10007277.html)

I did have to get this installed on the old pc prior to installing a new hard drive. The process took longer that usual as the drive was in a bad state but it did install and run successfully.  The ouput of the program produced a nice report with a tremendous amount of information including hardware info, software installed, and license keys in use. The Windows 7 license key was among those listed.

The failing hard drive was removed and a new one installed.  A bootable USB key was used to install the Windows 7 OEM version.  The product key from above was used to activate Windows 7.

This may not work for all cases but It Fixed it for me.