4 reasons to allow software deactivation – and how it works

By Mike Wozniak  |  Software Licensing Tips

Posted:  October 12

There are 4 main reasons why you may need or want to deactivate a software license on a customer’s computer:

  1. The customer may claim to have a dead computer and is asking to activate the software license on a new computer.
  2. The customer may not have paid for your software or otherwise broken the terms of your purchase agreement, and you want to terminate the use of your software on their computer(s).
  3. The customer may want to legitimately transfer the license between two working computers.
  4. The customer has asked for a refund during the warranty period, and you want to make sure they actually stop using the software.

Deactivation Via License Transfer

It is inevitable that your customers will need to transfer their software licenses at some point during the lifetime of the license.  When a customer changes computers, the best way to transfer the license is for them to first deactivate on the current device and then activate the license on the new device.  However this is not always possible because:

  • The customer may have forgotten to deactivate the license on the old computer before formatting the hard drive or giving the computer away.
  • The old computer may have had hardware failure and is unbootable.

Can I Remotely Disable / Deactivate the Software?

It is not possible to send a remote message (sometimes called a “push” message) to the software application to deactivate it immediately.  For one thing, it is unlikely that the computer running your software is directly connected to the publically-accessible internet.  There are likely layers of routers and firewalls blocking all inbound traffic to the computer.

Store License Status in Central Server

So how can I deactivate the software when I can’t send a “push” message to it?

No matter why you may want to support license revocation / deactivation, it is most easily implemented using a central licensing server. A database can store the overall status of not only each license, but every activated copy of every license.

If the customer wants to initiate a license transfer or you want to revoke a license, you or they send a message to the central licensing server which causes the license status to change. The software can then periodically communicate with the central licensing server to request or “pull/poll” the computer’s license status to see if it has changed.


Allowing license deactivation is a useful feature for both you and your customers, and using a central licensing server ensures that you can enforce deactivations, including remote deactivations.

Does the SoftwareKey System Allow Remote License Deactivation?

Yes, the SoftwareKey System allows you to implement license deactivation and other Electronic License Management features using the combination of Protection PLUS and SOLO Server.   These two systems communicate with each other during the lifetime of the license.

About the Author

Mike Wozniak is the founder of SoftwareKey.com and responsible for marketing, content and product strategy. When he isn't plotting new ways to help customers solve licensing and business automation challenges, he likes to travel and entertain guests who come to visit the Orlando area.

Mike Wozniak


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