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Serial Number

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Definition: A serial number is a unique, identifying number or group of numbers and letters assigned to an individual piece of hardware or software. A serial number for a piece of software is not usually the same as a product key but they are sometimes used interchangeably.

You've probably seen serial numbers before. Nearly every piece of the computer has a serial number including your monitor, keyboard, mouse and sometimes even your entire computer system as a whole. Internal components such as hard drives, optical drives and motherboards also contain serial numbers.

Serial numbers for software programs are typically used to help ensure that the program's installation is only performed one time and only on the purchaser's computer. If you're planning on reinstalling a software program you've purchased, you'll need the serial number to do so.

Below are some of the more common questions I get about software serial numbers:

Serial numbers are used by hardware manufacturers to track individual items, usually for quality control. For example, if a piece of hardware is recalled for some reason, customers are usually made aware of which particular devices need service by being provided a range of serial numbers.

Also Known As: S/N, serial code
Examples:
"Thousands of batteries were recalled by my laptop's manufacturer last week. I knew that mine was not effected because my battery's serial number did not fall in the range provided by the manufacturer."
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