Hardware ID (HWID): A Unique Identifier

Every computer is assigned a unique Hardware ID (HWID), a code that identifies and distinguishes it from other devices. This code is generated using a combination of information from various hardware components, including the motherboard, processor, graphics card, and network card. The HWID serves as a digital fingerprint for each machine, akin to a serial number.

Location of HWID Storage

The HWID is stored in different locations, depending on the operating system. In most cases, it is embedded within the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) or UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) firmware of the motherboard. The BIOS or UEFI is a small program that initializes the hardware during the boot process. The HWID is securely stored in a dedicated section of the firmware, ensuring its persistence even when the operating system or hard drive is replaced.

HWID Storage in Windows

In Windows operating systems, the HWID is stored in several places for different purposes. The primary location is the Windows Registry, specifically under the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\HARDWARE\Description key. This registry key contains detailed information about the installed hardware components and their associated HWIDs. Additionally, the HWID can be found in the System Information tool, accessible by pressing Windows Key + R and typing msinfo32.

HWID Storage in macOS

In macOS, the HWID is stored in the System Information utility, which can be accessed by selecting About This Mac from the Apple menu. Under the Hardware tab, users can find a section labeled Serial Number. This serial number is essentially the HWID for a Mac computer. It is also stored in the EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) firmware of the motherboard.

HWID Storage in Linux

In Linux distributions, the HWID is typically stored in the /proc/sys/kernel/hwid file. This file contains a unique identifier for the system. Additionally, the HWID can be found using various command-line tools, such as dmidecode and lspci.


The HWID is a crucial piece of information that uniquely identifies a computer. It is stored in different locations depending on the operating system, ensuring its persistence and accessibility for various purposes, including hardware identification, software licensing, and troubleshooting.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Why is HWID important?

The HWID is important as it provides a unique identifier for each computer, allowing for various applications and services to distinguish between different machines. This is particularly useful for software licensing, where a HWID-based activation system can prevent unauthorized usage on multiple computers.

  1. Can I change my HWID?

In most cases, it is not possible to change the HWID of a computer without replacing significant hardware components, such as the motherboard or processor. However, some software tools may claim to change the HWID, but their effectiveness and reliability can be questionable.

  1. How can I find my HWID?

The methods for finding the HWID vary depending on the operating system. In Windows, you can find it in the Windows Registry or through the System Information tool. In macOS, it is located in the System Information utility. In Linux, you can use the /proc/sys/kernel/hwid file or command-line tools like dmidecode and lspci.

  1. Is HWID the same as MAC address?

No, HWID and MAC address are not the same. While both are unique identifiers, the MAC address is specific to network cards, whereas the HWID is generated from a combination of various hardware components.

  1. Can HWID be used for tracking purposes?

Yes, HWID can be used for tracking purposes, as it provides a unique identifier for each computer. This information can be collected and used to track online activities, license compliance, or even for targeted advertising.

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