Are you leaving money on the table by allowing unlimited license deactivation?

By Mike Wozniak  |  Software Licensing Tips

Posted:  October 18

Last week’s licensing tip, 4 reasons to allow software deactivation – and how it works, sparked a really good question: should you limit the number of times a customer can deactivate their software?

Electronic License Activation and Management Defined

Traditional “copy protection” or license enforcement means that the customer can’t run the software on more machines than their license allows. In this case, every copy of the software must be activated with a central licensing server tracking the number of activated computers.  As an example, if Mary and Steve both need to run the software on their computers at the same time, they will each need their own activated license.

Electronic License Management (ELM) allows you and your customers to manage the license after it is activated.  If I have both a desktop and a laptop or I am getting a new computer, I can deactivate the license on one computer and activate it on another computer – as allowed by my one computer license. Technically, if Mary and Steve (in my example above) don’t need to run the software at the same time in the office, they can use ELM to transfer the license back and forth.

So Why Limit License Deactivations?

The purpose of setting up policies for limiting the number of computers on which the user can activate is so that you can establish boundaries for use of the software. There will always be the need to make an exception, as in the example where the user’s computer dies and they need to activate the software license on a new computer. Establishing the activation limit stops the user from grossly abusing your software license activation policy. When an event occurs requiring an exception to be granted, the user can contact your customer service department. Your staff member can review the license server logs and assess the situation.

Similarly, limiting the number of license deactivations allows you to establish boundaries for your customers’ convenience. In the example above, it could be easy to catch Mary and Steve passing back the same license activation between two computers. When the central license server hits the deactivation limit, they will need to contact your customer service department. At this time, they can also review the history of the license, discuss their usage, and determine if perhaps a second license might better suit their situation.

Sometimes asking a few simple questions can result in additional sales revenue.

Most license activation systems allow you to track and limit the number of activations assigned to each license. These parameters can typically be easily adjusted over time as your customer’s needs change.  Be sure to verify that whatever licensing system you choose offers the ability to limit the license deactivations also.

About the Author

Mike Wozniak is the founder of 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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