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Hardware identification

(also HWID)

Hardware identification definition

Hardware identification is a method utilized by the Windows operating system (OS) to determine what kind of computer hardware is running the OS. The OS utilizes hardware identification during the activation process as a security precaution. When an OS is first installed, it creates a unique string of characters called a hardware identifier. Sent to Microsoft, this identifier is a representation of the host computer's hardware. The HWID is updated every 10 days and after each reboot and compared to the one created at installation. The OS will presume it is running on the same hardware if the two IDs are relatively close to each other. In every other case, activation from Microsoft is required for the OS. Windows devices frequently have numerous hardware IDs. They are only allowed a maximum of 64. There is a possibility that device users will be able to generate a new HWID for that device.

Steps for finding the list of hardware IDs for a given device:

  • Open “Device Manager.”
  • Locate the device on the tree.
  • Right click on it and select “Properties.”
  • Choose the “Details” tab.
  • Choose “Hardware” or “Compatible Ids” from the Property drop-down.