Installing Windows 10 on a new hard drive using your free upgrade key

Today I had the (joy) of installing Windows 10 on an older computer after having bought a new SSD disk to boost the performance. Off course using your free installation immediately on a new disk is not one of the scenario’s the free upgrade provides….

Upgrading your current version

There is no way round this, you need to upgrade your current installation first. Which isn’t optimal if you want to move to a new HDD because of performance issues, but that’s the way it is. 
Once that is completed you have a Windows 10 installation that is tied to your hardware configuration. Reinstalling will only work if your hardware does not change too much from the one you used in the upgrade. This is apparently a measure Microsoft implemented from people trying to copy keys to other systems.

Extracting your new product key

The next step on the list is trying to extract your new product key that you got from Microsoft for this new version. 
This isn’t something you can find in a file or can view in the system information screens. Luckily Google was my friend yet again and I quickly found a script to extract this code here!
Using this tool you get information about the version of Windows that is installed and the product key used to activate the system.

Downloading the installation files

After getting the key you need the installation files for the exact same version you have now, to install on the new hard drive. Microsoft has provided a tool for this, it will create a bootable USB stick or ISO file for you. You can get that program here.
After you have done all these things you have your product key to use during the installation of the Windows 10 version you have on your USB stick. Just follow the instructions of the installation, and you’re done!

Enjoy your free upgrade!

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