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How to Retrieve the REAL Hard Drive Serial Number

, 17 Feb 2004 CPOL
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Shows you how to obtain the hardware serial number set by the manufacturer and not the Volume Serial Number that changes after you format a hard drive.
Sample Image - hard_disk_serialNo.gif

Introduction

Making sure your software is used by legal buyers is a concern for programmers around the world. My professor once said that we shouldn’t give 100% of our code to the users because there are people out there that are smart enough to decompile our programs and find the various verification algorithms used. He suggested that we give users 99% of our software, but keep the remaining 1% to ourselves. This 1% is the verification algorithm to confirm only valid users can use the program; this is commonly known as “activation.”

Activation is good, but it means our software users will need to have Internet access and that means small programmers like us have to set up a server that can validate users. Of course, only big companies with big clients can afford to do this. For the rest of us, we have to think of other ways.

One method programmers have used since the DOS era was to bind their software to the Hard Drive Volume Serial Number. This is not a good choice, as later we all find out that every time we format the same hard drive, a new Volume Serial Number is generated.

Background

A better solution is to get the Hard Drive Serial Number given by the Manufacturer. This value won't change even if you format your Hard Drive. Of course, if people buy new hard drive, we have a problem. But at least we keep the regular hard-drive formatters happy!

The Code

First, let's create a class to store information about a hard drive:

class HardDrive
{
 private string model = null;
 private string type = null;
 private string serialNo = null; 
 public string Model
 {
  get {return model;}
  set {model = value;}
 } 
 public string Type
 {
  get {return type;}
  set {type = value;}
 } 
 public string SerialNo
 {
  get {return serialNo;}
  set {serialNo = value;}
 }
}

Next, add a reference to your project. Scroll down to System.Management under ComponentName. This reference is not provided by default, so you need to add it.

Add a "using System.Management;" at the top of your source code. System.Management allows us to access WMI objects. Put simply, WMI contains a lot information about your hardware.

Now there's a problem: the hard drive model is found in the Win32_DiskDrive class and the serial number is found in the Win32_PhysicalMedia class. Thus, we need to query twice and integrate the information into our HardDrive class.

Let's first create an ArrayList to store our HardDrive objects: ArrayList hdCollection = new ArrayList();. Next, we query the Win32_DiskDrive class:

   ManagementObjectSearcher searcher = new
    ManagementObjectSearcher("SELECT * FROM Win32_DiskDrive");

   foreach(ManagementObject wmi_HD in searcher.Get())
   {
    HardDrive hd = new HardDrive();
    hd.Model = wmi_HD["Model"].ToString();
    hd.Type  = wmi_HD["InterfaceType"].ToString(); 
    hdCollection.Add(hd);
   }

Now we need to extract the serial number from the Win32_PhysicalMedia class:

   searcher = new
    ManagementObjectSearcher("SELECT * FROM Win32_PhysicalMedia");
   
   int i = 0;
   foreach(ManagementObject wmi_HD in searcher.Get())
   {
    // get the hard drive from collection
    // using index
    HardDrive hd = (HardDrive)hdCollection[i];

    // get the hardware serial no.
    if (wmi_HD["SerialNumber"] == null)
     hd.SerialNo = "None";
    else
     hd.SerialNo = wmi_HD["SerialNumber"].ToString();
    
    ++i;
   }

Luckily, the WMI objects from Win32_DiskDrive are in the same order as from Win32_PhysicalMedia, so the simple code above works. Otherwise, we will have to match them using their unique DeviceID. Start a thread in this article if you think Win32_DiskDrive objects are not the same order as Win32_PhysicalMedia objects returned.

We are done! Now we display our hard drive's information:

   // Display available hard drives
   foreach(HardDrive hd in hdCollection)
   {
    Console.WriteLine("Model\t\t: " + hd.Model);
    Console.WriteLine("Type\t\t: " + hd.Type);
    Console.WriteLine("Serial No.\t: " + hd.SerialNo);
    Console.WriteLine();
   }

Conclusion

If a user has more than one hard drive, I suggest you display the available hard drives to the user. Ask him which hard drive he's not planning to upgrade soon, then use that hard drive serial number to generate a license key. This will prevent your user from nagging for a new license key in short time.

If your user finally decides to upgrade hard drive, you may give this article's demo application to the user and ask him what the serial number is. Alternatively, you can create a much more user-friendly GUI one. Smile | :)

Hope you find this useful.

License

This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)

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About the Author

zeddy
Web Developer
Indonesia Indonesia
Zeddy Iskandar, computer science student. Writes freewares on free time. Regularly rambles on his blog. Likes to experiment on emerging software technologies.
 
www.zedilabs.com

Comments and Discussions

 
QuestionWhy not get all the data PinmembertheMadCoder20-Nov-13 11:21 
QuestionC++ PinmemberBogdan Calita19-Nov-13 2:25 
AnswerRe: C++ Pinmemberkezhu18-May-14 18:15 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberjgodino20-Sep-13 10:51 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pinmemberhims05631-Oct-12 20:35 
Questionsimple solution Pinmemberazhar.bandri29-Sep-12 2:49 
GeneralMy vote of 4 Pinmembersnorkie12-Sep-12 5:00 
BugBUG Pinmembersehathesam7-Aug-12 23:32 
Questionwhy it's not the same Pinmemberbeyondlwm16-Jun-12 1:24 
QuestionHard Drive Serial Number in UBUNTU PinmemberJ. manuel vargas14-May-12 8:29 
GeneralGood Pinmembery_sir10-May-12 2:29 
Question[My vote of 2] Nice try, but needs more work. PinmemberJan Zumwalt28-Feb-12 9:01 
QuestionThe code above is unaccurate and misleading PinmemberMember 6925361-Oct-11 18:36 
GeneralAdministrator and ordinary user give different result. Pinmemberorionkubilay9-Jun-11 23:23 
GeneralRe: Administrator and ordinary user give different result. PinmemberBronek17-Jul-14 3:04 
GeneralSATA PinmemberIssa.Alkaht5-Jun-11 6:03 
GeneralMy vote of 2 Pinmemberhafizhanif1-Feb-11 0:36 
GeneralVMs problem Pinmembermla3beh17-Jan-11 8:00 
GeneralMy vote of 2 PinmemberMember 164379218-Dec-10 6:01 
GeneralMy vote of 5 PinmemberMember 41797622-Nov-10 3:39 
QuestionWhy is it returning null?? Pinmembernethsu24-Oct-10 23:55 
GeneralJunk code PinmemberTotte Karlsson20-Oct-10 14:42 
GeneralNot Work with Framework 4.0 Pinmemberkalpesh280428-Sep-10 23:42 
GeneralIndex was out of range PinmemberSamanُSami9-Jul-10 3:21 
GeneralRe: Index was out of range Pinmemberxpectworld11-Nov-12 6:37 
GeneralMy vote of 3 Pinmembervikaskardode8-Jul-10 23:23 
GeneralWin32_PhysicalMedia empty retrieving from a webservice Pinmemberjavitgal22-Jun-10 7:18 
GeneralA mistake Pinmembernamarie9-Jun-10 3:14 
SuggestionRe: A mistake PinmemberDLChambers15-Jul-11 11:52 
GeneralMy vote of 1 Pinmemberforcedregsux1-Jun-10 1:47 
GeneralSerial No as None Please Help PinmemberMember 166023030-Sep-09 21:33 
GeneralRe: Serial No as None Please Help Pinmemberdmihailescu18-Nov-09 14:16 
Generali have a question -wrong in wndProc PinmemberMember 466405819-Sep-09 7:54 
Generalhard driver serial number PinmemberWendel Renner18-Jun-09 3:56 
GeneralRe: hard driver serial number PinmemberMichael Patterson II25-Aug-11 15:14 
GeneralMy vote of 1 PinmemberMember 396415912-Apr-09 13:09 
GeneralMy vote of 2 PinmemberPatricker27-Mar-09 17:34 
GeneralLink Police PinmemberJerry Hammond11-Apr-09 13:51 
GeneralWhy it does not work, and how you can sort of fix it. PinmemberPatricker27-Mar-09 17:32 
GeneralRe: Why it does not work, and how you can sort of fix it. PinmemberDLChambers15-Jul-11 11:55 
GeneralWMI query doesnot return record for user having less previleges!! Pinmemberdeep@Pune2-Mar-09 21:02 
GeneralSerial No. : None PinmemberMartin Vermehren24-Feb-09 20:25 
GeneralRe: Serial No. : None Pinmemberibhatti819-Nov-09 9:00 
GeneralSerial number for USB drive. PinmemberShashi.Shinde23-Nov-08 20:51 
GeneralRe: Serial number for USB drive. Pinmemberjdadhaniya10-Feb-09 5:56 
Questiondoes anybody know how to do it without windows ? PinmemberAbstractCure4-Nov-08 11:12 
QuestionDoes it work when the SMART... [modified] Pinmemberx-freestyler17-Jul-08 12:01 
QuestionDon't Work in Windows Vista PinmemberArmadar23-May-08 14:17 
AnswerRe: Don't Work in Windows Vista Pinmemberjrwiskerke26-May-08 0:54 
GeneralRe: Don't Work in Windows Vista PinmemberDerek Bartram28-May-08 1:36 

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