Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Discussions about using Windows guests in VirtualBox.

Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby bluec0re » 25. Oct 2013, 17:51

j.ledun wrote:Hey !

I'm working since more than 1 year with my Win7 64 bits guest (arch linux 64 bits host). I originally activated it with the activation code provided for my Laptop, I've never had trouble with that.

And now, after VirtualBox 4.3 update, my Win7 guest is asking me to activate it again. What's happening ?

I've updated virtualbox + extension pack + guest additions on all my machines.


I've possibly found a fix/workaround for this one. It seems that VBox4.3 doesn't use the hardwareuuid from the Machine tag in the vbox file anymore.

I was able to reuse MS Office in a XP VM by adding the uuid to the Hardware tag. (It had detected hardware changes after the 4.3 upgrade).

Maybe it would also affect the hardwarechecks from Win7.

Workaround:
Before
Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view
<Machine uuid="{30761f24-1e22-49c8-a4a5-dedc4a7ed74c}" ...>
    ....
    <Hardware version="2">

After
Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view
<Machine uuid="{30761f24-1e22-49c8-a4a5-dedc4a7ed74c}" ...>
    ....
    <Hardware version="2" uuid="{30761f24-1e22-49c8-a4a5-dedc4a7ed74c}">
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby mpack » 25. Oct 2013, 23:49

Ty for that info! Well spotted.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby hank » 25. Dec 2013, 00:43

Just got an activation requirement for Office 2007, on a VM that hasn't been changed for a year or more other than routinely updating it.
It was the first time I used Excel, which may be coincidental.

Oddly, there's no place on the phone menu nor anywhere else to enter a product key. Nor does /File/Help bring up the place the Help says it will, to enter a new product key.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby mpack » 25. Dec 2013, 11:40

MS Office installations do checks over and above the activation checks of the host OS. E.g. my host copy of Office 2003 notices when I image and restore the drive, which is how I often bracket big software updates. I suspect that it keeps marker data hidden in parts of the disk considered unused, so cloning, defragging or compacting a disk might produce a similar effect. Being a VM shouldn't have any bearing.

Difficulties reactivating the software after one of these should be reported to Microsoft, as should mysterious deactivations.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby jh001 » 23. Feb 2014, 23:34

I want to use a Windows 7 Pro VM as my home/work "PC". I have the VDI on a portable HDD and have VirtualBox installed on my home & work PC's. Will there be an issue with activation if I copy all the settings (UUIDs) from one host to the other, given that:

1. Different CPUs
2. Work VirtualBox is older (4.3.6 vs 4.3.2)

Anything in particular that I have to watch out for? Thx.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby mpack » 24. Feb 2014, 01:00

You don't copy the VDI, you move the entire VM folder. That will minimize the chance that VirtualBox settings changes will contribute, but I won't guarantee that Win7 won't want to be activated for other reasons. That's in Microsoft's camp.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby jh001 » 24. Feb 2014, 03:01

I don't want to move the VM, but keep it on the portable HDD so that I can transition seamlessly between work & home. But I get what you're saying, it should contain the whole VM including .VBOX file. So there is no way to "spoof" the CPU?
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby mpack » 24. Feb 2014, 13:52

Perhaps. I've never needed it, but have a look at "VBoxManage modifyvm --cpuid". Bear in mind that this identifies the cpu to the guest as a whole, not just the activation mechanism. That could have unfortunate consequences if you don't know what you're doing.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby mingle » 9. Aug 2015, 05:09

A bit of an old thread, but one which I stumbled across while looking for solution to a recent problem I ran into with Windows 10...

Here's a summary of the issue I have:

I successfully upgraded my WIndows Guest from 8.1 to 10, I then created a 'backup' of the newly upgraded using the "Export Appliance..." option - all good.

Once I had a safe copy of my Windows 10 Upgrade, I then ran a clean install of Windows 10 onto of the Windows 10 Upgrade I just performed - all went well.

Both the Windows 10 Upgrade and Windows 10 clean-install activated successfully.

I then created another 'backup' of the clean Windows 10 Guest (I am a bit fussy when it comes to backing up after major changes to the system!) also using "Export Appliance...".

Then I completely removed the Windows 10 Guest from VirtualBox (Machine>Remove>Delete all files) so I could import the Windows 10 Upgrade Guest again (using "Import Appliance..."

It imported successfully.

However, once I booted into the Windows 10 Upgrade Guest, Windows 10 was no longer activated.

The questions I have are:

1: Is the "Export/Import Appliance" option the best way to create a 'backup' of a guest?
2: Is there any way to prevent the 'de-activation' of Windows after the "Appliance Import?""
3: Would it be better to use the "Clone" option, or to use an image backup program like Acronis True Image, from within the Guest, to create a safe backup?

Any suggestions or comments greatly appreciated!

Cheers,

Mike.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby loukingjr » 9. Aug 2015, 05:45

The best way is to copy the entire VM Folder for the guest to somewhere safe. Exporting or Cloning a guest are not meant to be used for backups.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby mpack » 9. Aug 2015, 10:47

Export does not create a backup copy, it creates a clone. A clone has all UUIDs changed. As far as Win7 and later is concerned, it's a different PC. The rest follows.

To copy/move a VM without changing it, see How to move a VM.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby mingle » 10. Aug 2015, 12:57

Thanks for the replies...

I've managed to copy the entire folder to make a 'backup'. Not the most elegant solution, but at least Windows remains activated!

The Export of an entire machine to an OVA file is a very neat way of moving things around, it's just a pity it doesn't retain and exact copy of the source 'machine'

Would it be possible (in a future VB release) to include an option in the Export process to retain the UUID/Machine ID to avoid these problems?

Cheers,

Mike.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby loukingjr » 10. Aug 2015, 13:21

Not to quibble but a VM Folder is one item. An .ova file is one item. I'm not sure how moving one item with one method is more elegant than the other. My guests are on my host and I use a incremental backup program so the guests are always backed up.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby scottgus1 » 10. Aug 2015, 14:13

Mingle, the Export process to make an OVA is a standard for exchanging virtual machines, so a guest in one hypervisor type can be moved over to another hypervisor type. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Virt ... ion_Format. If Virtualbox tried to change how they export a machine, then the format wouldn't be followed, and then Virtualbox's OVA exports might not be importable on other hypervisor platforms.
If you don't intend to move your guests to VMware or Hyper-v or Xen, and they're going to be restored to Virtualbox for sure, then a good copy of the complete VM folder is a perfect backup, as recommended.
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Re: Which changes trigger reactivation in a Windows guest?

Postby HeadScratcher » 26. Dec 2015, 17:56

I'd better start with an apology: I'm confident that I'm about to ask a question that's been addressed before, but I haven't been able to find the answer I seek, although I've searched this forum and read through this thread. I'm sorry, forum regulars! I'm new.

I installed and activated a legal OEM edition of Win 7 Home under VirtualBox 5.0.2 in Linux Mint 17.2. The VirtualBox program files are on an SSD; the 50+ gig VB directory is on a HDD.

I have copied the 50+ gig VB directory to backup media, and could copy it back over to a new HDD if my current HDD were to fail.

Would this trigger a call for a Windows reactivation?

A related question: let's say the SSD fails instead, and I install a slightly newer version of VirtualBox -- 5.0.12, say, instead of my current 5.0.2 -- on the new SSD, then try to point it to the VB directory on the HDD.

Would that trigger reactivation? Would I be safer by instead installing my current version of VirtualBox 5.0.2 on the new SSD?

Finally:

I found a post elsewhere suggesting that I first fire up VBoxManage on the command line, then add a new hardware ID to my current installation through the command:

VBoxManage modifyvm --hardwareuuid


This new hardware ID will supposedly allow me to copy the VB folder without triggering activation calls. Sounds like an interesting experiment, but I'm worried that I'll trigger an activation call by adding a hardware ID that wasn't there before.

Any feedback will be appreciated.
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