By Delia / Last update January 11, 2022

Computer technology evolves rapidly, and so do the needs and conditions of personal use. Sooner or later, you will want to replace and optimize your computer components for better performance. The problem is that if you replace major hardware such as the motherboard, processor or primary storage drive, Windows 10 may not recognize it as the same device, resulting in settings being deactivated and cause issues such as Windows Activation error 0xC004F211.

windows activation error

To resolve such issues, one frequently used method is to contact Microsoft Technical Support to request a reactivation, but this requires going through cumbersome steps. In fact, in Windows 10, you can already associate your computer's digital license to your Microsoft account so that you can use the Windows Activation Troubleshooter to reactivate the license after a hardware change or a fresh installation.

This mechanism means that you can resolve the Windows 10 activation issue yourself, but first, you should check the activation status and associate the digital license to your Microsoft account before hardware changing. Thus even if your Windows 10 fails to activate afterward, you can reactivate the device through the "Activation Troubleshooting" feature.

Part I. Check activation before changing hardware

1. Open Start menu to access "Settings", click on "Update & Security" and click on "Activation".

2. Under the "Windows" section, make sure the activation type is "Windows is activated with a digital license". If the activation is set to "Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account", then the product key is already linked to your Microsoft account and the following settings are not required.

windows is activated with a digital license

3. Under the "Add a Microsoft account" section, click the "Add an account" option.

4. Confirm your Microsoft account credentials. Click the "Next" button to confirm your account password.

5. Confirm your local account password and click the "Next" button.

After completing these steps, you should see on the Activation settings page that "Windows is activated with a digital license linked to your Microsoft account" message. You can now upgrade your device with the new hardware and later reactivate Windows 10 by referring to the steps below.

windows is activated with a digital license linked to your microsoft account

Part II. Reactivate Windows 10 license after changing hardware

1. Open "Settings", click on "Update & Security", click on "Activation".

2. Under the "Windows" section, click the "Troubleshoot" option.

3. Select the "I changed hardware on this device recently" option.

windows activation troubleshoot

4. Confirm your Microsoft account credentials and sign in.

5. Select the computer that you want to activate with the new hardware. If your computer does not appear in the list, you can view other devices linked to your Microsoft account, and then select that computer.

6. Check the "This is the device I'm using now" option and click the "Activate" button.

this is the device I'm using now

After completing these steps, the Windows 10 installation will activate again even if the hardware is changed and you can start using the device normally.

If activation does not work, you may need to purchase another product key to reactivate Windows 10. If this is the case, the best option is to obtain a Windows 10 Pro license to access all features that must be used on the system.

Situations that may cause activation to fail

If your computer does not appear in the "Reactivate Windows 10" list, or the troubleshooter fails to activate Windows, there are many possible reasons, such as the fact that you used the wrong Microsoft account to save your activation information.

unable to activate windows 10

However, if you have confirmed that the account is correct, then you need to consider ruling out more possible problems, such as:

  • The computer you activated does not match the device linked to the digital license.
  • The computer does not have a genuine copy of Windows 10 installed.
  • You have installed the wrong version of license activation.
  • You have reached the activation limit. For example, if your Windows 10 was upgraded from a retail copy of Windows 7/8, you can indeed migrate it to different hardware, but only once.
  • The computer is managed by your organization, in which case you will need to contact the computer administrator to have it activated.

If after troubleshooting various errors, you are still unable to activate Windows 10, then you may need to contact Microsoft Customer Support to confirm that you have this Windows 10 license and ask for their help.