Computer manufacturers affix serial numbers to each unit they produce to identify any unit in question. The serial number helps identify what hardware is inside the computer and what kind of software is necessary to make that hardware function properly. The serial number also helps manufacturers keep track of which version of Windows, as well as which Windows build number, was preinstalled on the computer. And, most important, a serial number is vital when identifying a unit that may have been stolen. For these reasons, users should never remove the serial number from their unit.
On a Laptop/Notebook PC
- On laptop or notebook computers, the serial number is always placed on the bottom of the unit and will always appear on some sort of sticker. Usually the serial number is identified as "Serial Number," "Serial #," "S/N," or "Service Tag" and is often within the vicinity of the manufacturer’s name or the unit’s model number. Depending on the manufacturer and year of the unit, a bar code sometimes appears near the serial number as well.
On a Tower/Desktop PC
- The appearance of a serial number on a tower/desktop PC is similar to that of a serial number on a laptop. The sticker that identifies the "S/N," "Service Tag" or "Serial Number" is the same, but the location will be different. Most often, the serial number on a tower will appear on either the right or left side of the unit, very close to the top and front. Again, it is often accompanied by a bar code, as well as the unit’s manufacturer and model number. Some older computer models, Dells in particular, will have their serial numbers stuck to the back of the tower, although the stickers are identifiable in the same way as on newer models.
In Windows XP
- If the serial number is not physically available on the laptop or tower (perhaps the sticker has been peeled off or the number itself is faded), it is possible to find the unit’s information in Windows XP.
Click on the Start button at the lower-left corner of the screen, and then click on "Help and Support." On the Help and Support screen, there will be a list on the left side. From this list, select "My Computer." On the right side of the page, information about the unit will appear. The serial number of the computer will appear in the Service Tag table.
In Windows Vista and Windows 7
- In Windows Vista and Windows 7, there is a character series the user can enter to retrieve the unit’s serial number.
Click on the Start button—the little Windows logo at the bottom left of the computer—type "cmd" in the search field and then press "Enter." A black box with white lettering will pop up. This is the command prompt. In this box,
type "wmic bios get serialnumber" and press "Enter." The computer’s serial number will appear in the box.
To retrieve model name of the computer run the following command
type "wmic csproduct get name" and press "Enter."