In the line of business I occupy, I deal with Windows licenses frequently, particularly in virtual machines and test hardware that I set up. Although activating a legitimate copy every time I go to throw up a new container is not particularly arduous, I do fear activating a key one too many times and then having the key blacklisted. Bear in mind that I don't have the previous installation in this instance and I am starting completely anew, so I am not doing anything tacky with my license, like using the key on multiple live installations at once. Unfortunately, Microsoft really isn't going to know if a key is only being used on one machine at a time or not.
Advanced Tokens Manager
· Product Information:
- Title: Advanced Tokens Manager
- Company: Josh Cell Softwares
- Product URL: http://www.joshcellsoftwares.com/2011/09/AdvancedTokensManager.html
- Supported OS: Windows Vista, 7 and 8 (optionally Office 2010)
- Price: Free
- Rating: 4 out of 5
- Bottom Line: When you need to back up your Windows and Office 2010 activation, this utility is quick and efficient. Just don't expect to use this on Windows XP or older versions of Office.
Since I see myself as someone who doesn't like to tempt fate with Microsoft customer service, I've called on Advanced Tokens Manager by Josh Cell Softwares to save the day. Basically, this utility does one thing and one thing only. It backs up your Windows license activation for safe-keeping so that you don't have to make the dreaded call to Microsoft again. You can even do the same process for Microsoft Office 2010 keys that are active on your system if you like, for added convenience.
When you run a backup on the utility, it takes a snapshot of your tokens.dat file in Windows and creates a backup, ready to be restored anytime you go to rebuild the system. For those who are curious, the tokens.dat file contains all the Windows and Office activation information and it is digitally-signed.
This probably goes without saying, but if you change a significant part of your system and don't back up your activation afterwards, you might still have to call Microsoft in even after performing a restore. This is an obvious security measure from Microsoft, as anyone could just share their tokens.dat backup with anyone and become fully activated at a moment's notice and effectively stealing a copy of Windows or Office.
Advanced Tokens Manager essentially takes the place of a series of command-line operations that can be considered inconvenient to less technically-savvy Windows users. Commands like slmgr and the like, can be a bit dicey and, even when you think you typed it in correctly, it still manages to throw up errors or not perform the intended operation during a restore. Even if you are an IT manager, it can still be more convenient to use this tool in lieu of an in-house script or a visit to each machine to perform backup and restore operations by hand via the command-line. At least this tool keeps the process easy.
Finally, it should be noted that this tool only supports Windows Vista and up; users of Windows XP as well as Office 2007 and older need not apply. Even though Windows XP and other older versions of Office might be nearing the end of their useful and supported lifespans, I still find it annoying that there is no real good way to back up the activation on those products, likely due to the completely different activation methods they employ.
For what it is, Advanced Tokens Manager is simple and to the point. I have little to complain about it aside from the obvious limitation of not being able to use this on Windows XP systems. This software does require version 4.0 of the .NET Framework, so you might need to grab this if you are running either Windows Vista or 7 on your system. As a piece of advice, consider keeping this software alongside your activation backup so that you don't have to re-download it.
An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Customer Success Professional for Ultimate Software in Santa Ana, California.