signofzeta I'd like to take a stab at some realistic scenarios
On the computer with the dead motherboard; it's a dead PC
--- If you were replacing a component and the motherboard was ok, you'd have a chance to recover whatever you have in mind
--- Keep in mind, I cannot see your PC, so I have to interpret by what I perceive is going on
--- Since the hard drive is good, we need to know whether or not you just want the data from it or do you want to continue using it
"Is Belarc Advisor useful in retrieving product key in the scenario above": Not that I'm aware of
"provided I have another PC and a means to attach that hard drive externally or internally as a second hard drive?"
--- On this other computer, what OS is on it compared to your hard drive you want to continue using or get the data from
--- I don't recall what it's called but I have a kit in which I have connected someone's hard drive externally to my computer and pulled out the data they needed but it's been a while since I've done so
--- So we need to know, what do you want to do
"I see two obstacles"
1) "I heard that Belarc Advisor only displays information from the boot drive, or at least that is what Google search tells me."
--- What's the obstacle, what are you expecting from Belarc?
--- Belarc doesn't fix anything, it provides important information about someone's computer and Cat has covered that pretty well
2) "The second obstacle is an OEM license of windows cannot boot onto another computer, so I can't boot the OS in order to run Belarc Advisor on it."
--- Yes this is an obstacle and Cat has covered that pretty good also
"Belarc Advisor only works on the boot drive true, or does it also scan stuff in external drives?"
--- I'm not aware of Belarc scanning stuff in an external drive, it generates a reprt of a computers OS, CPU, memory etc.
I summary, it sounds like you have another PC you can work with or will get and you'd like to continue using your good hard drive or just get the data of of it
This was a good read for me: Windows 8 activation & BIOS explained
To retrieve the product activation key 2 free utilities are mentioned
Nirsoft ProduKey: http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/product_cd_key_viewer.html
Belarc Advisor: http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html
In another thread, I mentioned how I used to have an OEM license of Windows XP, but the motherboard it was supposed to work on was fried, so I am stuck with using a 30 day trial of windows XP on virtual box, in which I can reset that 30 day timer by deleting that virtual hard drive and reinstalling XP. In order for me to keep the saved files, I decided to make a shared folder between the host and the guest machine, and save pretty much everything in that guest folder. I mainly use XP to run certain programs that do not run properly on Vista or newer. I basically want to know if virtually disconnecting the guest machine from the internet will block all viruses from entering the guest machine from an outside source, and not via the host machine. I don't really mind if the guest gets infected, as I can just delete the virtual hard drive and reinstall windows XP, but what I am more concerned is if a virus can get into my host machine via the guest machine, even if the virtual network cable is unplugged, but this here is not what we are trying to talk about.
In that same thread, someone mentioned hard drive caddies, and Belarc Advisor, in hopes of being able to use the same OEM key to activate windows XP on a virtual machine running on a totally different computer. At first I didn't believe him. First thing he did was somehow, he got an OEM key, from his Dell desktop, which is currently dead, working on a virtual machine on an Acer all in one PC. I don't know how he did it, but he did it. He mentioned using one of those Dell reinstallation discs, so I don't know how the dell windows XP reinstallation discs are different from any other recovery disc, then again I see a bunch of Dell windows XP reinstallation discs on Ebay, so it could be that those discs work like Windows retail discs more than it works like a recovery disc from another PC manufacturer, I don't know. He also used Belarc Advisor to find out what his key was from his Dell desktop, but I assume that he ran Belarc Advisor before his Dell died.
Here is the thread that is discussing this.
Just start reading at post #14
In my scenario, I have an 8 year old HP desktop that ran Windows XP, and a half year old Asus laptop that is running Windows 8.1, and also has Virtualbox and VMware installed. Wizardfromoz is trying to help me salvage that Windows XP OEM key from the 8 year old HP desktop, but maybe I should have just told him that I haven't run Belarc Advisor on it, meaning that Belarc Advisor is useless with respect to trying to salvage that Windows XP OEM key from the 8 year old HP desktop.
This is probably why I am asking all these questions about Belarc Advisor.
As for the 2 obstacles.
The first is that Belarc Advisor cannot look at specifications and product keys unless you boot into that specific drive. Meaning that if I have 2 drives attached, and each of them have its own OS, Belarc Advisor can check the specs of Drive 1, but not Drive 2 unless you boot into the OS that is in drive 2. What if there is a restriction that denies you access in booting drive 2, maybe because the OS is an OEM OS, and it only works on a specific motherboard?
The second obstacle is the OEM obstacle. I theoretically can't boot an OEM operating system on any PC except for the PC that this OEM OS came in, but I have read of someone who has achieved that task. So if I can't boot an OEM operating system on a different PC because the motherboard is fried, I can't check the product keys and specifications of that PC whose motherboard is fried. Do you know what I am getting at?
From what I read on Google, Belarc Advisor has a huge weakness, in that it cannot display the specs and product keys from a hard drive that was attached to an OEM PC with a dead motherboard, because the PC itself won't boot or power on, and the OS won't boot on a different PC, so if I have a product key hidden inside that hard drive, Belarc Advisor won't retrieve it.
Back to that discussion I had with wizardfromoz, can anyone here tell me the difference between the product key and license number?
Edited by signofzeta, 04 November 2014 - 02:37 AM.