Many users encounter the “Windows 10 failed to validate product key” error when upgrading or reinstalling the system. Don’t worry. This post of MiniTool summarizes several effective troubleshooting methods.

According to user reports, the “Setup has failed to validate the product key” error often occurs when upgrading Windows OS from an older version via the media creation tool or the ISO file. Here is a user in the forum who got the error when upgrading Windows 7 to Windows 10:

Hi, I am running a Windows 7 Pro desktop that meets all the criteria for windows 10. I decided to install using the media tool and now every time I try to finish it, I get “Windows 10 setup has failed to validate the product key” and I am forced to close it. How do I fix it? Please, help!

What Causes the Windows 10 Failed to Validate Product Key Issue

After investigating extensive user reports, we find the “setup has failed to validate the product key Windows 10” error can be caused by various factors. Here we list them as follows:

  • System files get corrupted or missing: Once these important system files get corrupted, the upgrading process may be interrupted and trigger different error codes. In this case, you can try running an SFC or DISM scan.
  • Installation files present in the Temp folder: If you previously use the installation media on your PC, the media could detect the installation files in the Temp folder. To fix the error, you need to clean up these temporary files.
  • The Config file is missing: An config file is required for the upgrading process. If the config file is missing or corrupted, you may get the error message.
  • The product key is not attached to the installation media: Some users report that the error code can occur when they are trying to upgrade using an installation media without the product key.
  • Third-party antivirus program interferes with the process: An overprotective third-party AV suite can interfere with the upgrading utility. In this case, you can try disabling the real-time protection or uninstalling the program.
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How to Fix the “Windows 10 Setup Has Failed to Validate Product Key” Issue

According to the above analysis of the possible causes, we summarize 7 applicable solutions to the “Windows 10 setup failed to validate the product key” error. Let’s try them one by one.

Solution 1. Check for Windows Updates

As you know, Microsoft often releases new features or patches to troubleshoot the common errors. So, we highly recommend you check for the latest Windows updates before you upgrade to a higher version. Here’s how to do that:

Step 1. Press Win + I keys to open the Settings app and navigate to the Update & Security section.

Step 2. Click on the Check for updates button to start updating Windows 10. If you can’t find the button here, you can also download and install the available updates manually.

check for Windows updates manually

Once installed, you can reboot your computer and try upgrading again, and see if the “Windows 10 setup has failed to validate product key” error is fixed.

Solution 2. Run a DISM or SFC Scan

Corrupted system files can trigger various error codes, including the “Windows 10 setup failed to validate product key” error. Some affected users have proven that the error can be solved by running a DISM or SFC scan. Both two utilities are commonly used to repair corrupted system files. Let’s have a try:

Step 1. Type cmd in the search box on the taskbar. And then right-click the Command Prompt app and select Run as administrator.

run Command Prompt as an administrator

Step 2. In the elevated Command Prompt window, type the following commands in order and hit Enter after typing each one. Then a full DISM scan will start running.

  • Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /CheckHealth
  • Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /ScanHealth
  • Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth

Once completes, restart your computer and check if the issue gets solved. If the error code persists, you can try running sfc /scannow in the elevated Command Prompt window.

Solution 3. Clean up the Temporary Files

The “setup has failed to validate the product key Windows 10” error can occur when the installation media tool detects the unpacked installer files in the Temp folder. In this case, you can delete the temp files by running the Disk Cleanup tool or a professional cleanup tool.

Way 1: Use the Disk Cleanup Tool

Disk Cleanup is a Windows built-in junk file cleaner that can scan your drives for download program files, previous Windows installation files, temporary files, and so forth. To use it, follow the guide below:

Step 1. Press the Win + E keys to open the File Explorer and select This PC on the left pane.

Step 2. Right-click the Local Disk C drive from the disk map and select Properties.

Step 3. Click on the Disk Clean-up button in the pop-up window.

click on Disk Cleanup

Step 4. After a while, you will see the following interface that shows the total disk space you can regain. Select the Temporary files types from the list and click on OK.

select the Temp files to delete

Step 5. Click on Delete Files to confirm this operation. After that, the selected Temp files will be deleted. Then you can restart your computer and check if the Windows 10 failed to validate product key error is resolved.

click Delete Files to confirm

The Disk Cleanup tool can be used to delete Temp files, but you may need to find more details like file extension, file path, or a particular file name that the tool can’t help you with. Here MiniTool Partition Wizard comes.

Way 2: Use MiniTool Partition Wizard

MiniTool Partition Wizard is a multifunctional partition manager that can help you analyze disk space and find temporary files easily. Moreover, it can help you extend partition, wipe a hard drive, migrate OS, measure hard performance, change cluster size, etc.

MiniTool Partition Wizard FreeClick to Download100%Clean & Safe

Step 1. Launch the program to get its main interface, and then click on Space Analyzer on the top panel.

click on Space Analyzer

Step 2. In the pop-up window, select the C drive from the drop-down menu and click on the Scan button.

Note: You may need to wait a while. The specific time depends on the number of files and folders on the drive.

select C drive to scan in the MiniTool software

Step 3. Once the scan completes, navigate to the File View tab, and then type temp or a specific name in the File Search Filter box and click on Apply. After that, various types of temporary files will be shown in the list.

Step 4. Right-click the temporary file that you want to remove and select Delete (Permanently).

permanently delete temp files in MiniTool

Solution 4. Create an Ei.cfg File for the ISO File

If you are trying to upgrade your system using an installation media that doesn’t contain the config file, you will receive the “Windows 10 failed to validate product key” error. To fix it, you need to extract the Windows 10 ISO file and manually create a .conf file. Some users have fixed the error by doing so. Here’s how:

creating a config file is useful

Step 1. Use an unzip tool to extra the Windows ISO file that contains the installation media into a folder.

Step 2. Press Win + R keys to open the Run dialog box, and then type notepad.exe in it and hit Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open Notepad with admin rights.

open Notepad via the Run box

Step 3. In the elevated Notepad window, copy and paste the following content into it.






Step 4. After you added the contents, click on File > Save as from the top toolbar.

create an Ei config file in Notepad

Step 5. Set the Save as type to All Files and set it File name to ei.cfg. Here make sure that the config file is saved in the Sources folders of the ISO installation. Then click on Save.

change the file name and type of the config file

Now, you can run the set.exe file from the same installation media and check if the “Windows 10 setup failed to validate the product key” error disappears.

Solution 5. Manually Apply the Product Key

If you encounter the “Windows 10 setup failed to validate product key” error due to the missing license key, you can run a command to add the key manually. For that:

Step 1. Open the Run box, and then notepad.exe in it and hit Ctrl + Shift + Enter to open an elevated Command Prompt window.

Step 2. In the pop-up window, type the following command and hit Enter to locate the place where you save the media installation files. Here you need to replace the CD: C: with the actual location of the ISO file.


open the ESD folder in Command Prompt

Step 3. Type the following command and hit Enter to add the product key to the media installation tool.

Note: Replace the “x” section with the actual license key that you use for the upgrading process.

Setup /pkey xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

Once done, close the Command Prompt window and restart the upgrade process to see if the “Windows 10 upgrade failed to validate product key” error gets solved.

Solution 6. Disable the Third-party Antivirus Program

If you recently installed a third-party antivirus program, it may overprotect your system and trigger some errors like the one discussed here. In this case, we recommend you disable the real-time protection and check if it works. If not, you can try uninstalling the AV software from your computer.

Step 1. In the Run dialog box, type appwiz.cpl and hit Enter.

Step 2. Scroll down the list of installed programs to find the third-party antivirus software, and then right-click it and select Uninstall.

Step 3. Click on Uninstall to confirm the operation. Once uninstalled, restart your computer and see if the “Windows 10 upgrade failed to validate product key” error is gone.

Solution 7. Disconnect Your Computer from Domain

The domain-joined system may block you from upgrading the Windows system. If this situation applies to you, you can disconnect your system from the domain.

Step 1. Log in to your domain controller via an authorized administrator account.

Step 2. Launch the Active Directory Users and Computers tool, and then select Computers and a list of computer objects will show in the right pane.

Step 3. Right-click the computer object that you want to disconnect and select Delete. After that, you should disconnect the computer from the domain.

I have been troubled by the “Windows 10 failed to validate product key” error for a long time. Finally, I fixed the error by using solution 4 in the post. Are you still trying to fix it? Here is what you need. Click to Tweet

What’s Your Opinion

How to fix the “setup has failed to validate the product key Windows 10” error? The top 7 solutions have been illustrated. If you have any better ideas on this subject, leave them in the comment zone. For any questions or difficulties when you use MiniTool Partition Wizard, send us an email via [email protected].

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