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There's a few portals I've taken over and want to link, but I can't get a portal key to the portals I want to link to, even after hacking them repeatedly until they're burned out.

Is there something that can be done to help improve the odds of getting a portal key when you're hacking?

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With newer version, key drop algorithm have changed. You can check my answer. – FallenAngel Aug 31 '13 at 12:12
up vote 7 down vote accepted

None seem to be known. I have not observed any biases either. (I'm Level 4, so I've hacked a few …)

"Just hack more often" might not be the answer you're looking for, but …

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That's the answer I expected, but thought I'd ask just in case and will happily change the accepted answer if anyone figures anything out. It's also worth noting that the odds of getting a portal key seem to have decreased with a recent update (late December), so it's noticeably different than it used to be. Also related to that update is you can now get multiple copies of the same key without dropping your current copy first - assuming you can get any copies at all.… – mmrobins Jan 2 '13 at 7:13
This answer is outdated, in current Ingress versions you will never get another key if you already have one in your inventory. Drop all your held keys for a given portal before hacking. – intgr Jan 8 '14 at 19:41
@intgr is correct – currently (Jan 2014) the rate for getting a key hovers around 72% if you already have one, and ZERO if you don't. – Matthias Urlichs Jan 9 '14 at 0:12
I've heard 90% claimed, and now 72%. I don't believe 90% for a minute, given the number of times I've come up keyless after two or three or four consecutive hacks. 72% is more plausible, but is it still correct in 2015? – c roald Jun 11 '15 at 1:19

With version 1.33 (or 1.34 I am not sure about the exact version number), you will get a portal key (about 80% or something like that) if you do not have the key of the portal already. If you own at least one (or more) keys of that portal, then percentage of obtaining key with hacking is really low.

If you already have some keys in your inventory; you can drop them on the ground and take them back after you hack the portal. By that means, you can obtain a lot of key belong to that portal.

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"Really low" seems to be zero, actually. – Matthias Urlichs Jan 9 '14 at 0:13

Discounting "hack more" as an answer, there is one technique you can use - destroy links. Some percentage of the time (I'm not sure how much), destroying a link will result in a portal key being dropped near one of the portals. If you want keys for a specific portal, try destroying things that link to it.

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Actually, if you want keys for a specific portal, destroy that portal – and then check all the portals which linked to it whether you can find a key for it there. Frankly it's faster (and you're more likely to be successful) if you just put a multihack in … – Matthias Urlichs Jan 9 '14 at 0:15

I haven't done any systematic data collection on this, but when a portal is near death (via enemy attack or natural decay) i sure seem to farm portal keys with much more frequency. Anyone else experienced this?

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