A hardware ID, also known as hardware identifier (HWID), is a unique identification string created by the operating system using the serial number of the hardware devices attached to the host computer at the time software is installed. It’s mostly used by Microsoft to stop piracy of its products. Windows operating system uses HWID to identify the hardware platform on which it is installed. This unique number is transferred to Microsoft company. Every few days and after every reboot, a new HWID is generated and compared to the HWID at the time of first software installation. If both the HWIDs are close to each other, then the operating system assumes that it is running on the same device.
However, if a user changes some hardware components of the computer, for example, random access memory (RAM), graphics cards, or sound cards, the new HWID created after the system reboot may not match with the one created during the software installation, which may lead to the operating system being blocked. In such a situation, the user must contact Microsoft customer support to report their hardware changes to reactivate the operating system. Software licenses are typically anchored to a specific Hardware ID. The hardware ID of computer hardware can be checked by browsing to Control Panel → Device Manager → Select the device → Properties → Details → Select Hardware Ids from the dropdown list.« Back to Definition Index