How To: Bring your giveaways (and other programs) with you when you reformat

Background

Okay I knew about this method for a while now, but never really had a chance to test it out. Well recently I had decided that it is time to reformat my Windows partition because it was getting filled with too much junk. The only problem was that I was going to lose 3 months+ of giveawayoftheday software! So I decided to put my ‘method’ to the test and see if it would allow me to keep my giveaway programs across the reinstall.

What you need

  • A partition manger (Windows partition manager will do).
  • Application Mover.
  • Time.
  • Patience.

Some Assumptions

This method is assuming that you are reformatting your Windows partition and installing the same OS on that partition after you reformat. Also, the partition must have the same letter designation before and after the reformat, i.e. C:/.

Some Cautions

  • This method will in no way gaurauntee that you will be able to successfully use your giveaway of program after you have reformatted. If your program will work depends on the program and how the developer coded it. So far, I have a 66.66% success rate with this method.
  • Application Mover is a shareware program that limits you to 10 program ‘moves’. I figured out a work around this limitation (a way to reset the limit once you reach it), but I was not willing to use it (damn self conscience) and I am not willing to share it – that would be unethical =D (if the developer of Application Mover is reading this, please contact me and I will explain the work around so you can get it fixed). If you are not willing to purchase a license for Application Mover (it is only $15), pick and chose the 10 applications you want to keep before we go any further.

The Good Stuff: How to keep your programs across a reinstall

This method been tested on Vista Home Premium 32-bit. It should work for Vista and XP, 32 and 64 bit users, but use this at your own risk – I am not responsible for any lose but I will take credit for any gain =D.

First thing you need to do is open up Windows Partition Manager (“Disk Management”). You can also use any other partition management tool that you desire. Shrink your Windows partition if you have no free space left. How much you will shrink your Windows partition depends on how big, in total, are the programs that you decided to keep. 5 GB should be enough for most people. With that 5 GB of free space create a new partition in NTFS format. Name your partition whatever you please. Something like Programs could be appropiate – I have my partition named “Important Files”.

Next download Application Mover.

Install and run AM (Application Mover).

When you run AM, you will be prompted with this (assuming you did not buy the software):

Click “OK”. You should then be brought to the ‘main’ screen of the program:

The only thing that concerns us is the “Current Path” and “New Path”. Sure the other settings are important, but leave them at default…we don’t need to mess with them. “Current Path” is where the program you are trying to move is located. “New Path” is where you want to put it. Click the “…” button next to “Current Path” and browse to the location where the program you want to move is located. For example, if I want to move Linkman Pro (which I did btw =D), I would find the folder “Linkman” and chose it. Since I installed Linkman Pro under Program Files, I would go to C:/Program Files/ and select on “Linkman” which is the folder where Linkman Pro is installed. Then for “New Path”, copy and paste what is in the box for “Current Path” but replace the partition letter, i.e. C:/, with the partition letter for your new partition, i.e. F:/ (assuming your new partition is designated F:/):

At this point some of you may be thinking must we place the program in the same location on the new partition as we did on the old. No you do not have to – in fact you don’t even need to name the folder the same thing. But for simplicity’s sake, lets just keep it that way. If you have enough computer knowledge and are confident in your skills, by all means, change whatever you want.

Ok so, after you are done with that, click “OK”. The program will start to do its thing. It will scan the folders and start moving files. On the way you may be prompted to replace some files. Be sure to replace all of them. Every time you are prompted, select “Replace” or “OK” – if you don’t your program might run into problems later on. At the end it will ask you if you are sure you want to delete your files. Hit “Yes”. If you get an error after that, don’t worry about it. In the end it will prompt you to restart your computer. Do so. After you have rebooted, open up your new partition and see if the program was successfully moved. If so, well done. If not…try again. Keep repeating the same process until you have all your programs moved into the new partition.

Here are screenshots of an example of me moving InPaint:

After you have moved all your applications into the new partition, you should be ready to reformat your Windows partition. Be sure not to format the partition that holds your programs when you are reformatting or else you will lose all your programs! After you have installed Windows and you get back to your desktop, you can, if you want, move the programs out of your partition (i.e. F:/) and move them back into your Windows partition (i.e. C:/) if you want. Or you can just leave them in the F:/ partition like I did.

Does this actually work?

As I mentioned above, sucess rate is not 100%. I have had a 66.66% sucess rate. I moved 9 programs into my F:/ partition before I reformatted my C:/ (Windows) partition:

  • PDF to HTML
  • PDF to Image
  • PDF to Text
  • PDF to Word
  • Linkman Pro
  • Edraw Max
  • Wondershare Photo Collage Studio
  • InPaint
  • AVS Video Editor

Out of all of those, AVD Video Editor, Wondershare Photo Collage Studio and InPaint all had either errors or were unregistered when I tried to run them from my F:/ partition after I reformatted my C:/ partition and installed Windows. The rest have been working perfectly so far. 6/9 = 66.66% success! And somehow, by stroke of luck, InPaint was offered by GOTD today so I had a chance to get it back after my reformat =).

TIP: For some programs, the developer enable you to use the provided registration code to activate the programs after the giveaway date. If you keep the registration codes in hand, you may be able to reinstall some of the giveaways after you reformat. YMMV. I am not giving out any registration codes, sorry!

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41 comments

  1. Watcher1924

    For a couple of days I and other GOTD users (probably many) were not able to install the giveaway programs. It was the first time I noticed this specific behavior during the installation: very high CPU usage for very long time (I don’t know how long because I felt sorry for my computer so I killed the process every time), not completion of the “connecting with GOTD” process and maybe some other details that I don’t remember.
    I suspected something about a change in the installation procedure so I thought about checking their blog for some announcement and I was right; the GOTD wrapper was updated!
    http://blog.giveawayoftheday.com/gotd-wrapper-is-updated/
    There are complains from the users because of a special protection program called “Themida” (btw, as a user there noted: “Themis or Themida was the Greek Goddess of justice”!). After this update the wrapper was tweaked again to resolve some problems for the users and now I can install again but they didn’t make clear if “Themida” stoped being used or if -in some other way- they made the procedure less strict.
    Anyway, I believe that it worths reading until the last comment (21st, by the time this comment was being written).

    @Ashraf (or anybody that knows the answer), why the date of this dotTech article is more recent than the date of the first comments?!!

  2. Raeldin

    Ashraf,
    I second JeanJean. I have used SVS for several years now and it has been great. I started using it because the more stuff you install the more cluttered your system gets, and I haven’t found any program that completely removes itself from your system on uninstall.
    SVS, or SWV (Symantec Workspace Virtualization) as it is called now, removes those issues. Once you delete a layer the software is completely gone. And if you suspect that a certain program is causing you trouble, just disable the layer and reboot. See if the issue goes away.
    I use a XP VirtualBox to install all my apps then just import the xpf file into my Windows 7 machine. The program is not able to capture every piece of software, but it has around a 98% chance in my experience.

  3. Blue

    A much easier way is to install the giveaway program with Advanced Uninstaller Free; using it to track the installation. Then uninstall the giveaway program and Advanced Uninstaller Free will make a backup of the installation. Copy that backup to a safe location and you can then install it whenever you want.

    Easy, simple and (as the name of the program implies) free.

    Of course, perhaps a better solution would be to use Linux, where most Windows programs have a free alternative. If you *do* encounter a program that doesn’t have a Windows equivalent, use Virtualbox to run an XP machine. Save that virtualbox image file and you can reuse it on your newly formatted disk.

  4. jayesstee

    @pceasies: Please explain further – I see the words but don’t understand, particularly:
    “You copy the ID from the download link and say 123, and paste it on the activation link” and
    “Then you save that page as an HTML file. When you want to install you set Fiddler to redirect to the saved file instead of allowing the program to access the internet”
    Perhaps a dotTech [CC] article is the way to go?

  5. pceasies

    Also, for Giveaway of the Day I found it far easier to download the zip and save the activation page. You copy the ID from the download link and say 123, and paste it on the activation link. Like: http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/activate/?id=26105

    Then you save that page as an HTML file. When you want to install you set Fiddler to redirect to the saved file instead of allowing the program to access the internet. The great part is, it’s super easy to automate and ensures you can run activate.exe or setup.exe. The only downside is you still won’t be able to use programs you had to go online and get a reg key from the dev to activate.

  6. Don

    All this rigamarole and jury-rigging is exactly why I don’t bother with GAOTD offers. Almost everything I have ever seen on GAOTD that I wanted was later available as a true freebie (via infopackets.com or DotTech newsletter) or as a publishers special deal (aShampoo is great for special free offers). Where a freebie of the product is not available otherwise another software package that accomplishes the same thing usually is.

    If I hear about something on GAOTD that I think I want I might download and install it but only to play with it a bit to make sure I want it. Then I go elsewhere to find a true freebie doesn’t require all the extra effort to keep after a format.

    Don

  7. kcs3295

    Paragon has an app that allows coping to boot on new hardware but have not tried so far.

    I download the GOTD app from the developer’s site but sometimes they give a special serial key for the GOTD app which will not work to re-install.

    Also, an app called WhatChanged will capture the system changes & registry files.

    If not mistaken, PC Mover only allows 10 uses for a license. Read before buying since it would be a rip-off to pay for this.

    Give Ashampoo Burning Studio a try as it may extract all related installed files to burn to cd. Even if it wont install (auto-run) – a copy & paste may work using the same directory of the old pc. This would be using M$ Volumn Shadow Copy which works for me. Ashampoo offers MyAutoPlayMenu which may build an exe of the copied file – haven’t tried this yet either but on my list.

    Ken

  8. Adrian

    Assuming that the new OS installed is same as the old, why don’t just backup the whole registry in a .reg file, copy all your program files (including those hidden) to some DVDs, copy them over to the new computer, and install the .reg file into the new OS registry. Done!

  9. Dave

    @giovanni:

    Giovanni, I have been looking at the different methods espoused on this subject and have just finished backing up most of my wife’s laptop. I was wondering if you could elaborate on making a transport file with SystemSuite as I have a copy of ver 9 around here somewhere and will likely upgrade to 10 when I finish with upgrading her from Windows 7 beta to Windows 7 Ultimate. With this kind of upgrade could I use System Suite?

  10. sos4ever

    In response to Ashraf’s comment

    “I was actually about to post a HOW TO on how to track what is being installed/being changed on your computer (including serial keys) whenever you install a program.”

    @Ashraf: Wouldn’t the program that you recommend, Zsoft uninstaller fill that order?

  11. OmegaReport

    Both Seagate (and now) Western Digital offer free software that comes on a CD when you buy a new HDD from them.This allows you to clone your entire old drive to a new one – OS, programs, settings, documents, etc.

    With the Seagate software, at least one of the drives (old or new) must be a Seagate or Maxtor. I assume the same is true for the WD program. I’ve used the Seagate program a number of times and it works flawlessly.

  12. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    Dave,
    I have never used Laplink PCmover and I don’t know much about it but taking into account what the purpose of it is, I am thinking that yes it should allow you to move your giveaways just fine.

  13. Unknown Name

    For programs where GOTD releases a text file contianing registration info (like reg name and serail) or just a serial, simply save that text file then go to the publisher site and download their software from them (not GOTD) – It’s worked everytime for me and you don’t have to worry about the time frame to install.

  14. normofthenorth

    Assuming (1) I want to replace a working HDD with a new one, (2) I have a bunch of GAOTD programs installed on the old HDD, and (3) I’m generally happy with the way my computer is operating, except that the HDD is too small or getting old.

    Couldn’t I just use an Image Saver program — Acronis or a free alternative — to copy everything from the old HDD and paste it onto the new one? Wouldn’t my GAODT programs work fine, as if nothing had changed?

    Now, if I wanted to clean up my primary partition by reformatting and reinstalling the OS, etc., I can see that this wouldn’t work — at least not simply. . .

    Norm

  15. Jeanjean

    I think still need to clarify some points regarding GAOTD in particular.

    The downloaded zip file of GAOTD contains either a “setup.exe” with a text file specifying the registration code of the program, either a “activate.exe” to perform before the start of setup

    The simplest case is the first. The only thing to watch in this case is to introduce the code before the end of the registration of the virtual layer (icon on the taskbar turns on itself).
    To do this, we must not close the program and not close the website of GAOTD, which is launched automatically, before the introduction code. That seems logical.

    In the second case, first run the file “activate.exe” in SVS.
    A virtual layer is created for this operation. Disable it and rename the layer (at the name of the program that you install).
    Then in the menu of SVS, click the second entry “Edit existing layer” where you specify the existing layer first (normal !) and the setup.exe of the program to run.

    At the end of these procedures, your layer will include all relevant data and you can keep it forever if you want.

  16. Jeanjean

    Hi,

    Yes, you can:

    1) activate and deactivate the virtual layers (one or all) at will (“à volonté” ?). It should be that all layers are turned off before you can turn off the PC … (which excludes the closing of the PC if a virtualized program is in use!)
    2) export / import the virtual layers in files with the extension vsa on another drive or external media;
    3) activate one or more layers at the start of the PC;
    4) when a program does not interest you, or when a new version of a program is proposed, simply drop the (former) layer.

    One detail yet : it is possible that during the installation of a program you receive one or several messages saying that it’s impossible to rename a file … Just make a click on the retry button! I have not yet been established whether this phenomenon was caused by SVS or another program on my PC.

    Finally, the program has other opportunities that I don’t need and why I do not know, therefore, say nothing.

    The links to consult:

    http://www.svsdownloads.com/
    http://forums.altiris.com/categories.aspx?catid=28&STARTPAGE=1&FTVAR_FORUMVIEWTMP=Linear
    http://www.symantec.com/connect/articles/stuff-you-need-know-about-svs-part-1
    http://www.svsdownloads.nl/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=3 (site néerlandais)
    http://www.symantec.com/connect/forums/how-do-i-capture-installation-when-its-installer-restarts-my-computer (which explains how to do in case of reboot!)
    http://www.symantec.com/connect/forums/issue-creating-layer-itunes- (explanation to virtualize iTunes 8
    http://www.symantec.com/connect/articles/virtualizing-microsoft-office-handy-collection-tips
    (Virtualizing Microsoft Office)

    Have fun !

  17. Jeanjean

    Excuse my English, I’m Belgian, and it is not perfect.
    Having recently discovered your blog, I find your subject by chance.
    I actually completely solved this problem by using the free program “SVS Client 2.1 Personal Edition” Altiris (reproduced by

    Symantec).
    Download : http://juice.altiris.com/aff/3239/7
    This program allows you to virtualize the installation of programs.
    As a result, they don’t clutter (?) your PC and can be deleted with a single click!
    Another advantage of this system is that these “installations” (which are not in reality) can be exported (backup) and reimported … and even exchanged with other people who have the program. Imagine that you have missed a GAOTD and someone else can send it to you or give it to you on a site… (attention to spyware and viruses in this case …!).
    The only disadvantages (there are always, is not it?) :
    - difficult (but not impossible!) to virtualize when rebooting the PC is necessary;
    - impossible to install permanently on the PC.
    If anyone wants further explanation, I will try to answer.
    I have a set of links (in English) if anyone is interested.

  18. ksp797

    This option is not free. But FYI I have used VCOM Systemsuite to backup/transport programs to reinstall at a later time and thus far all have worked fine. Not all giveaways have I wished to keep so not all have been tested. Just another option to consider or test for those interested.

  19. Ashraf
    Author/

    Giovanni,

    I was actually about to post a HOW TO on how to track what is being installed/being changed on your computer (including serial keys) whenever you install a program.

    EDIT: Still trying to get my lazy ass around to writing it :D

  20. giovanni

    Hi Ashraf!!

    I still didn’t prove your method but it looks great and ingenious!!

    I know other 2 methods (probably easier than yours…LOL!!) to bring our GAOTD back once reformatting our System, but once again I still didn’t prove them so can’t guarantee that they work 100% all the time!!

    1)To recover older GAOTD previously installed on your PC you can also download and run the freeware BELARC ADVISOR and then print its output so as to recover the GAOTD serial numbers and other info.

    But most GOTD programs require online activation the day when they were offered. A few might work just by entering the serial numbers, but most of them I’m afraid won’t.

    So to really move a lot of active working programs from an old machine or hard drive to a new machine or new hard drive with fresh OS, the best program I know is PCMOVER from Laplink. It’s primarily designed to move working programs from old machine to new machine, but there is a way to use a third drive, so you can install a fresh OS on a new drive, use PCMOVER to move working programs from the old drive to the third drive, then install the hard drive with fresh OS and move things back from the third drive. The only other way is to individually make a “Transport” file of each working program, using System Suite, but this way also may not work with most GOTD programs. PCMOVER should ALWAYS work.

    2)alternatively there is another method discovered by an Italian GEEK.

    Here is the link where he explaines his method with detailed screenshots:

    http://pelligragiuseppe.wordpress.com/2008/07/15/giveaway-of-the-day-ecco-come-salvare-le-license/

    Unfortunately for you, as you can see, his explanation is written in ITALIAN LANGUAGE but you can try to translate the web page in English using the FIREFOX ADD-ON FOX LINGO (the translation is awful but at least you can broadly understand the main points of his method…LOL!!).

    In short, as you should already know, the operation of activation is quite simple.

    The file you’ll find along with the setup, called activate.exe, allows you to connect with the Giveaway of the Day website and if the period of validity has not expired yet it adds a registry key in your PC that will register the new installed software.

    So all we have to do is to save this registry key in order to restore the license for a future installation! To do so, there are two ways:

    1) using the REGEDIT COMMAND to search the registry key involved manually

    2) using a freeware tool called “RegFromApp” by Nirsoft that can be downloaded from here:

    http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/reg_file_from_application.html

    Once you have unpacked the archive and launched RegFromApp.exe, a new window and a secondary one with a list of all running processes will be opened.

    Close that window, go to the main window and click on the second green button as depicted in the first picture.

    Then select the ACTIVATE.EXE FILE to activate the software from the Browse button and then check the box at the bottom which says “Start tracing immediately” and press ok (see second screenshot).

    At this point the program will start to register the software and at the end of the operation you should be able to see the REGISTRY KEY containing the GAOTD LICENCE.

    You can save this KEY simply by clicking on the SAVE BUTTON of the program (see third picture)so as to get back the GAOTD LICENCE KEY again with just a double click! Quite simple, isn’t in Ashraf?

    But what happens when the INSTALLER during boot connects to the Internet to check the date and the period of validity has expired?

    As we know very well many GAOTD PROGRAMS include a file called “setup.exe” which doesn’t allow users to install it beyond the GAOTD deadline.

    We can bypass this hindrance quite easily, at least according to this Italian Geek mentioned above (he’s graduated in Computer Science…so no stupid at all…LOL!!).

    In short he said that whenever we install the GAOTD SW a particular file is extracted from the “temporary files folder” but unfortunately not only it’s “disguised” in some ways (usually it’s called “we219.tmp” but can have often have different numbers) but it has also a hidden attribute.

    The only thing we have to do is to find that file and rename it in the “.Exe” file removing its hidden attribute as well!

    So according to him in this way we can save the GAOTD LICENCE in order to activate the software at a later time even if the GAOTD LICENCE should be theoretically working only during the day of its launch in the GAOTD website, meaning by this that you can format your OS without saying farewell to your GAOTD licence.

    PROVARE PER CREDERE = THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING IS IN THE EATING (sometimes Italian language is much easier than the English one, isn’t it?)

    Hope my post can help!!

    Waiting for your feedback!!

    Good night from Italy (here it’s 1 am now…LOL!!)

    Giovanni

  21. Ashraf
    Author/

    I know about Regshot. And you are right, that using RegShot to keep track of the installation key is one of the best methods to enable you to reinstall giveaways after you reformat. But there are three problems with your suggestion:

    1) Some developers disable the activation of a product after the giveaway date. Some don’t.

    2) For your method to work, you would have to do that before hand – as in when are you actually installing the software. My method is for those people who did not prepare for this beforehand. Like me =D.

    3) For 99.9% of software you do not need to get the setup.exe/installation file from the temp folder because you can usually download a free trial off the developer’s website – you just have to activate it.

  22. Tim Owers

    When activate.exe is used, why not just use a utility to compare the registry before and after activation, find the entry that ‘registers’ the app, export the key et voila!
    When Setup.exe is used, just copy out the app’s setup that is extracted to the user temp folder (of course renaming the ‘tmp’ extension back to ‘exe’.