If you're preparing to reinstall Windows Server 2003 you'll need to locate your copy of the Windows Server 2003 product key. Normally this product key is on a sticker on your computer or located with the Windows Server 2003 product manual.
If you've lost your product key, it's located in the registry but is encrypted and not readable, making finding it difficult. The key was not encrypted in previous versions of Windows like Windows 98.
Follow the steps below to locate your Windows Server 2003 product key code.
Important: Please read my Windows Product Keys FAQ for more information.
Time Required: Finding the product key for your Windows Server 2003 installation usually takes less than 15 minutes
Manually locating the Windows Server 2003 product key from the registry is nearly impossible due to the fact that it's encrypted.
Note: The manual techniques used to locate the product key for operating systems like Windows 95 and Windows 98 do not work for Server 2003. That method will only locate the product ID number, not the actual product key used for installation. Luckily, a number of free programs exist to help find product keys.
Choose a free product key finder program that supports Windows Server 2003.
Download and run the key finder program. Follow any instructions provided by the software.
The numbers and letters displayed by the program represent the Windows Server 2003 product key. The product key should be formatted like xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx - five sets of five letters and numbers.
Write this key code down exactly as the program displays it to you for use when reinstalling Windows Server 2003.
Note: If even one character is written down incorrectly, the installation of Windows Server 2003 that you attempt with this product key will fail. Be sure to transcribe the key exactly.