I've heard that changing the date on your computer can extend the use of a trial for software X.

The idea being that you have a limited license on some software local to the computer. Say Software X, and you find a Y-day free trial.

  • Would it be possible to "extend" the free trial period by tricking the software by changing the time on the computer?

  • Could this be done retroactively? Say the license ran out 31 days ago, could I set the computer back 14 days to have it work again?

  • What could be done to secure again taking advantage of this?

  • Yes it can if Software X uses the date, but if they simply count the number of days you out of luck. – Ruskes May 4 '13 at 22:02
  • also, notice that file access dates won't be changed accordingly. – user144773 May 5 '13 at 6:17

Turning your clock back used to work many, many years ago. However, developers got wise to this and have many different ways of checking how long software has been running. Even though you change the date and time of your system, the system still keeps track of that change. Software developers can see the fact the time was changed, so they can still do a check for how long the software has been running. Also, there are other internal timers for your system, like uptime, that the software can track. The software might also have its own built in timers. Im sure there are many other methods as well.

On a side note, changing your system date and time is not a necessarily good thing to do. Changing your date and time can break other software on your computer. Many programs rely on having a proper time to run correctly and you could end up having issues.

  • 1
    One good example of changing your time and breaking functionality would be if your computer was part of a Windows domain. If your clock is off by 15 (or is it 5?) minutes, you will not be able to authenticate to the domain. – Keltari May 6 '13 at 14:34

Depends on the software.

Changing the clock isn't a long term solution, and there's probably smarter ways to extend a trial than that (I've run trial software on disposable VMs for example, its a nice way to keep a system clean). I've done it once or twice when I've had school supplied software stop working a day or two before a big deadline, and I didn't have the time to go get a new key.

There's a lot of good reasons not to do this though. If you're doing this for work, this opens up your employer to liability for piracy, you're running inaccurate clocks which may screw up other things (notably HTTPS), it might not work at all... etc etc.

If you really need a software for longer than the trial period, man up and buy the damned thing, or find an alternative.

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