What's new

Activation and validation problems - the beginners guide to how to ask for help.


Forum Moderator, Windows Update Analyst, Contributor
May 31, 2012
North Wales
We've probably all had them at one time or another....
.....that wonderful black desktop, with the notification in the bottom right-hand corner telling you either that you've been conned, or that you're a pirate (depending on how you read what's actually written):eek:

..... You go to download MSE and either then, or at install time, you're told 'you've failed validation - please cough up $$$ for a new Key':eek4:

First of all 'DON'T PANIC!'

While the problem is serious, it frequently can be solved for free - and you can learn a little along the way :smile9:

The first thing to do is to download a little tool from MS, called the Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostic tool (MGADiag for short).
Download it from here.... http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=52012 (direct download)
(for those of you who can't access the desktop because you're using Vista RTM or SP1, there are instructions at the end)

Save it to your desktop - you may need it a few times :)
Once you've got it, now Run it (either double-click it, or highlight the icon and hit the Enter key).
Accept the User Access Prompt to elevate privileges for the program.
You'll get a small window come up with a prominent 'Continue' button.
Read the guff - and the privacy statement! - and then click on the Continue button.
After a while (anything from a couple of seconds to a couple of minutes), the Continue button will turn into a Copy button (and there may be a 'Resolve' button as well)

Before doing anything else, click on the Copy button. This places a copy of the data onto the clipboard (where you cant't see it) and also tries to save the backup files it creates to a folder in the root of the C: drive.
Sometimes, the save will fail and you'll get an error message - IGNORE the error message, just close it and continue (it just means that for whatever reason, the program was unable to complete the save properly).

Now open a Notepad window
Right-click in the Notepad window, and select Paste from the options.
Now you can read your report.

OK,OK - please stop screaming 'I can't make sense of THAT!!!' at me - no-one is expecting you to be able to read it - that's what people like me are around for.

What you CAN do, though, is add at the top or bottom of the report the problems you are seeing and anything that you think relates, such as:-
1) what happened immediately prior to the problem surfacing?
2) Have you had any virus or malware infections lately?
3) Are you seeing any other problems with the machine (running slow, Blue Screens/reboots, etc.)
4) The EXACT wording of the notification (different causes can give different messages)

ALWAYS include your machine's make and model (or just tell us it's a self-build).

ALWAYS include the following data.
1) The Licensed version of Windows from the COA sticker on the case (if applicable) - but NOT the Product Key from the sticker
2) If your installation is an Upgrade, please tell us (it makes a difference!) If it was an upgrade using a Full License, please tell us.
3) If you have any reason to think that it may have been tampered with (by a repair shop or a friend) please tell us - it prevents us from accusing you of doing what they did :)
4) If you already know the installation actually is counterfeit - please tell us what you want to do about it so we can properly advise the best course of action!
Save the file, but do NOT exit Notepad.

Now click inside the Notepad windows and use Ctrl+A to select everything in the window, then right-click in the window, and select Copy.

NOW log back into the forum, and start a NEW thread of your very own, and create a suitable Subject/Title - 'Fred's MGADiag report' will do so long as it's different to anything else there!
in the Content box right-click and select Paste.

Hey presto, all your hard work is now in the post (hopefully!)

Now submit the post (you can add a few grovelling pleas, if you like :grin1: )

...and sit back and wait.

Hopefully someone will pick it up fairly quickly (an hour or two) and you can go on from there, but PLEASE remember that MGADiag reports are fairly esoteric, and there's not many of us can read them properly.
As a consequence, if we both happen to be in bed (in different countires <g>) or out in the pub, it may be up to 24 hours before we can get back to you.

Please don't 'bump' the thread unless at least 48 hours have gone past without response

In Windows 7 and Vista SP2, there is no real time-pressure on a solution. In earlier Vistas, there may be pressure, as Reduced Functionality Mode may come into play. For those using particularly Vista RTM, here is an alternative set of instructions.....

If you do not have access to the Start Button:
1) Login to Vista and click the option that brings up Internet Explorer.
2) Type: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?linkid=52012 into the browser address bar.
3) A window will come up asking if you want to “Run” or “Save”, Select “Run”
4) When the program runs, click the “Continue” button, then click the “Copy” button (IGNORE any error messages at this point).
5) Return Sysnative forums, and start a New thread of your very own with a decent title (see above)
6) paste the Diagnostic Report (by right-click select Paste or by using Ctrl+V)
7) add any relevant detail (see above)
Last edited:

Artan Ramaj

New member
Nov 16, 2012
Hello, Mr Noel, I am Artan Ramaj, from Albania is it legal to install windows with a cd that is a copy of the original windows cd? my little brother said that he did the instalation this way before I started to use my laptop, we have discussed about my case on Saturday, November 17, 2012 9:32 PM, you gave me this reply at the last thread of this case windows updates not working , please Mr. Noel , what is the right definition Legal or Not Legal?
Last edited: