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Charlie asked: “I’ve got a hand me down Sony Vaio laptop and it’s got some strange problems. Back in the day, I installed the Windows 10 upgrade from the Internet. I filled up the 50 gig hard drive, which was pretty easy. Then I installed System Mechanic to free up some space and everything worked good. Then I removed a few more programs that were indicated as “not necessary.” And somehow I managed to lose Wi-Fi and ethernet connectivity. From what I can tell, the laptop is stuck in airplane mode. I’ve attempted everything I can find on Google with 0 success. Do you have any suggestions to re-installing Windows 10? Is there an activation code somewhere for the upgrade, or will I need to pay for a new OS. I guess even that would require repairing the registry so I can get online.”
Charlie, it sounds like System Mechanic may have prompted you to delete the ethernet and WiFi drivers.
If you had any network connections still active, you could just open the start menu, type in Device Manager, select the network adapter and have it search for drivers on its own, but without a gateway to the internet, that option is gone.
You can try to reinstall whatever drivers came with the laptop originally by using another computer to go to esupport.sony.com and downloading them from there and copying them over on a flash drive.
If you’d rather go ahead and reinstall Windows 10 after all, your license depends on how you upgraded. If you bought a physical copy you need the product key, but you probably didn’t since you’d otherwise have that physical copy with the code and you wouldn’t be asking.
If you upgraded on the Microsoft Store, you have what Microsoft calls “Digital Entitlement.” That means that when you’re reinstalling Windows 10 you’ll be asked for your Microsoft Store credentials instead. The Windows 10 image itself can be downloaded from Microsoft’s site.
There is an easier way to reinstall Windows though, you can go to Settings, Updates and Security, and Reset this PC. According to Microsoft, you should not be promoted to activate Windows, it will just know that it was already installed on that computer.
This way of reinstalling Windows will give you the option to keep your data intact. If Windows needs to download anything as part of the process, you will have to look into the other option we gave you, but if it doesn’t this option should be simpler and save you a few steps and it’ll keep your data in place.