I have purchased Adobe Creative Suite CS6 for Windows and am using it on my desktop and notebook computer. This is the maximum number of computers I'm allowed to use it on. Since the software has an activation and deactivation feature and requires an internet connection, I assume that an activation on a third computer would not be possible. So I really have to make sure that I don't lose any of the two systems because I'd also lose one activation with it. (Or I'd need to mess with the support which I'm trying to avoid.)
Today I've noticed that my notebook shows strange error messages. Applications were missing or would not start due to wrong reasons (not compatible with x64, although this was specificly the x64 version, and it's always worked fine). I ran a chkdsk and it fixed tons or filesystem errors. Now other programs are missing and I can't even install any new ones... Unfortunately I noticed the error while trying to perform a Windows system backup. That stupid thing deleted the old version and messed up the new one. So I haven't got any right now. There's also no system restore points, so I can only reinstall the system.
Don't worry, no user data is lost, but I'm kind of lucky that Photoshop still started and I could deactivate it before that wouldn't work anymore as well. (Computer systems often die slowly...)
So my question is: What files or registry keys do I need to copy to a safe location to backup Adobe's software activation on my computer? Would it be possible to restore such a backup on the very same hardware (maybe another disk drive in case the previous one died) but with a freshly installed Windows (same version)? I've learned several times that I cannot rely on a complete system image backup. The only backups that have ever worked 100% reliably for me were those where I copied files to a known location in a known format. But that doesn't include the activation I guess. I'd like to know where it is located so that I can perform a decent backup of it.
So my question is: What files or registry keys do I need to copy to a safe location to backup Adobe's software activation on my computer?
None. You are wasting your time looking for something that doesn't exist. It's genuine cryptography and the keys are calculated fresh every time a new activation is produced even on the same system and then stored in a secure, invisible part of your file system.
So even a complete system backup would not help in this case? What is Adobe's suggested backup strategy to comply with their licence terms? Computers break, there's nothing to prevent that. There must be a defined strategy to recover from that.
So even a complete system backup would not help in this case?
As long as nothing in your computer has changed, a system backup/restore will keep the activation. There are various things that activation looks at to produce the activation key, MAC address & HD are two of the obvious ones (there are more). So, as long as the backup is used to resotre on the same hardware, you shouldn't have to worry about re-activation.
If the computer breaks and you need to install on a new computer, you'll need to contact the Adobe Activation customer service to reset your activations. For more info see: Activation, deactivation | Adobe products
As long as nothing in your computer has changed, a system backup/restore will keep the activation.
To elaborate: That's assuming your disk image tool captures all invisible sectors and the disk mapping doesn't change at all in terms of sector sizes or how the drive is hooked up to your SATA bus or whatever even. Even tiny changes can make it refuse. Therefore even with image-based backup strategies it is always recommended to deactivate...
What the hack are invisible sectors? If it's not managed by the file system, it is subject to be overwritten at any time by the file system (saving new files, defragmenting). If it's outside of a partition, e. g. in a boot sector, it is subject to be overwritten at any time by a boot loader (parallel Windows or Linux installation, TrueCrypt). It would be highly unreliable to save any information outside the control of the operating system.
Adobe does not discuss how the license manager system stores activation data. Such information would be useful to software pirates, so any more detailed posts on this topic will be removed.
If you managed to deactivate your installation before rebuilding the faulty drive, it will reactivate just fine. If you didn't, just call Customer Service using the information in Mylenium's reply, they can reset the activation count in a couple of minutes once they verify your license key. There's no reason to 'avoid' talking to them.
Every drive has sectors not even visible to operating systems and then other ones that require specific lowest-level function calls not using the standard file I/O APIs of any operating system... There are some rather obscure sides of disk metrics beyond just boot loaders...