Sometimes the files on your Windows computer are so much messed up that your only option is to format and re-install Windows. We never forget backing up all our important files and folders, web browser bookmarks and other settings, before we format our hard disk. But we often forget to backup the license keys of various software installed on our system. You can use free License Crawler application to scan your system for license keys and serial numbers and save them in a text file.
The License Crawler is a freeware Windows application that can help you discover software product keys and other serial numbers or licenses very quickly. It allows you to save the discovered keys and serial numbers in a plain text file or an encrypted file. It supports all versions of Windows operating system starting from Windows 95 to Windows 8. It also has a feature to scan the registry for serial numbers of a remote networked computer.
You can download the License Crawler from the Klinzmann website. The download is a portable application of around 1.3 megabytes. You can extract the contents of the downloaded zip file and run LicenseCrawler.exe to start the program. The program is coded using Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 and might pop-up an error that some ActiveX object is not registered. In such a case, you can use the regsvr32 command to register the mscomctl.ocx file included with the downloaded License Crawler application.
When the License Crawler window opens up, you can just click on the Start Search button to start the scanning of your registry for serial numbers and other licenses. If you want to scan a networked computer, then choose the computer name from the drop down list – otherwise just leave it to localhost which means your local computer. You can also select a registry hive from the drop down list box, but since most of the serial numbers are stored in the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive, it is better to leave it as it is. In a short time, you would see all the serial numbers and license keys found on your computer (or a networked computer).
Now you can save the results in a text file by choosing File → Save from the menubar. If you want to save the results in an encrypted file, then you can select File → Save Encrypted. This would ask you a password for encryption. The encrypted file can only be opened using License Crawler after you supply the correct password.
The License Crawler also has a batch processing feature which you can use to scan multiple computers over a network, one ofter another, for license keys. It also has a tool for encoding and decoding text which you can use to encrypt or decrypt text strings or calculate their checksums or hashes.
So if you are going to setup a new computer or trying to re-install Windows, you are going to need all those serial numbers for various software installed on your PC. You can use License Crawler to scan your registry and find all the serial numbers. This includes the MS Windows license key, MS Office license key and serial numbers for other applications like ACDSee, Nero, WinZip, mIRC, VMWare and pretty much every other application. You can download it from its website at http://www.klinzmann.name/licensecrawler.htm.