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Create Trial Softwares

Posted on 2004-04-16
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Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Is there a way to create a trial software for a VB project, like 15 day trial or 30 day trial?
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Question by:janu_s
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by:vinnyd79
vinnyd79 earned 20 total points
ID: 10845880
Have you tried ActiveLock:

http://www.activelock.com/about.html
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by:frodoman
ID: 10846442
I agree - this is good software but be sure to read this for some cautionary things that are easy to miss: http://www.internetion.net/ActiveLock/activelock.asp

Basically what this does (and what you could do for yourself) is to create a registry key when the software is installed with either a datestamp or counter, etc.  You simply check the key every time your software runs to see if it's "expired" yet.  Obviously the better hidden and more cryptic the key is, the more secure it'll be - never foolproof, but enough to furstrate the casual pirate.
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Cayce earned 30 total points
ID: 10849796
1) Easy way:
Whenever the program starts, go and read some registry key under HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\CLSID\{random-clsid}
If it doesn't exists, create if with current timestamp. if it does exist compare that timestamp vs current timestamp. if it's newer it means that the user tampered with the system date (took it back), give 1 or 2 hours of slack, the user may have changed the timezone or daylights savings applied (use GMT time for better results), if it's older check how older is it, if it's older than N-days (7,15,30,etc), then the software is expired.
Make sure your installer/uninstaller don't mess with the registry key, so uninstalling/installing the application won't reset the timestamp.

2) Hard way:
Get one of those commercial software protection engines. Backslash, they're expensive, they are trash. Most of them need to be very carefully implemented unless you want that the common script kiddie with a web browser can use  a generic cracking tool to reverse your protection scheme.

3) Harder way:
Develop your own software protection scheme. Remember that any half baked scheme can be easily broken. Most in-house software protection schemes can be easily cracked by changing a JNZ to a JZ or viceversa (it's a single BIT patch).

4) Hardest way:
Develop your own software protection scheme and make it really work. Remember that more security means less freedom. Users won't like software activation or hardware dongles.

The truth is that no software protection scheme is crack-proof. And if it is nearly crack-proof your users won't like it. The best way to go (on my beliefs) is to go with #1, which would make the standard user buy the product if they really like it. but won't keep the crackers away (if you're a small company, a little bit of "illegal" copying could help you on gaining some momentum in your popularity rates).
You must offer the users some incentive to buy your software other than just unlocking the time lock. A good technical support is ever appreciated, so is extra features. The best way to revenue in the software business is innovation. Most of software businesses get their gross income from upgrades, support and contract services.


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