Installation / Activation FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and Answers

Support is great

All serial number and activation questions are handled by email.

If the tips in the Activation Guide and the Activation Troubleshooting pages do not help, the fastest way to solve any activation problem is to read and apply the instructions in the Activation Keys and Serial Numbers help topic. This page reprints the FAQ section of that help topic together with frequently asked questions about installation.

Please see the Activation Support page for information on contacting tech support for priority assistance with any serial number or activation question. No tech support token is required for activation questions about most licenses if the given procedure is applied. Users who do not wish to use the free procedure may get customized activation support by utilizing technical support tokens.

Standalone Manifold licenses are licensed for standard Windows installations on physical machines. Standalone licenses are not licensed for virtual machines (use License Server with appropriate numbers of floating licenses). Likewise, Manifold is not licensed for time sharing nor can a single Manifold license be used on more than one machine at the same time.

When installing or activating Manifold, you must have a standard Windows installation in operation. Some registry "protectors," third party uninstall programs, network supervisors and other "value added" supervisory programs running on top of Windows may interfere with the installation and/or activation process.

Useful Links

Pages especially useful for installation and activation:

  • Status Page - Get status on a serial number to see what product it authorizes, the number of activations left, whether it has been revoked.
  • Activation Guide - Provides a short, one page overview to Activation.
  • Activation Troubleshooting - Provides a quick troubleshooting checklist that solves 99% of activation problems.
  • Activation Support - How to contact tech support for priority assistance with any serial number or activation question. No tech support token is required for activation questions using the given procedure.
  • Additional Keys - How to acquire additional activation keys if an existing stock of keys has been used up.
  • Activation Keys and Serial Numbers - The complete and comprehensive help topic. This FAQ is taken from that topic.
  • Product Downloads - Download the latest installations for the current release of Manifold System.
  • Administrator Login - Users are sometimes surprised to learn they don't have true Administrator rights in Windows 7 or Windows Vista. This short page describes how to login using the real Administrator account.
  • Windows Installer Notes - Tips on solving problems with Windows Installer in case of de-installation errors.
  • Support FAQ - Overview on support, including info on when support tokens are automatically charged.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

I don't understand any of this. I'm not technical, I just inherited this. Can I get tech support to do all of this for me? No. Tech support charges support tokens (which you must buy) to provide specific answers to specific questions but that's not a realistic route to take for people who are not at all technical. Manifold is not designed for completely untechnical people so if you seriously need to have someone else do all this for you then you should enlist a more technical colleague or hire a consultant with appropriate skills to assist you with your software procurement, installation and GIS work. None of this is rocket science but it does take some basic familiarity with computers and reasonable technical aptitude.

I lost my serial number. What can I do? Can you help? Losing your serial number means you have lost your license. If you do not have a valid Manifold serial number you can procure a license on the Online Store to obtain a serial number. If you lost your serial number, you may or may not be able to recover it by purchasing a Key Recovery service product. Avoiding such inconveniences is why the serial number email that conveys a Manifold license uses the strongest possible terms to advise licensees not to lose their licenses (sample text below). If this doesn't do the trick, what could?

PLEASE SAVE YOUR SERIAL NUMBERS
-------------------------------

DO NOT LOSE THESE SERIAL NUMBERS. IF YOU LOSE THESE SERIAL NUMBERS, THEY CANNOT BE RECOVERED.

If you lose these serial numbers, you will lose the ability to permanently install or to use the products they authorize, you will lose the ability to re-install your products or to move them to a new machine should you ever need to do so in the future and you will lose any ability to take advantage of future upgrade offers that require a Manifold serial number.

Do not expect that after using a serial number once you can safely lose it. Serial numbers are stored in Manifold products in encrypted form and cannot be recovered from the software installation: you will need these original serial numbers, so DO NOT LOSE THESE SERIAL NUMBERS.

PRINT OUT A COPY OF THIS EMAIL AND SAVE IT IN A SAFE PLACE.

I don't remember, or, I don't have any information about when our Manifold license was obtained, who ordered it, what email address was used or any of that stuff. How can I get a serial number? By buying a fresh license at the regular price. If you do not have the information required to use a Key Recovery service product, the detective work required to help you find all that missing information would end up being so expensive that it would be much cheaper to simply buy a new license. That's why there is no "super duper extended" key recovery service: any such service would end up costing more than simply buying a fresh license.

My partner and I have split and I no longer have the serial number or required information. Can you send me the serial number? No. See the User Manual topic on Maintaining Your Manifold License.

Our former employee left the company and neglected to tell anyone the serial numbers and other information. What can we do? If you have the information required to use a Key Recovery service product you can use the appropriate service. If you do not have that necessary information you must acquire new licenses.

If I upgrade to a new Windows version will I need to use another activation key? In general, yes. That is why a Manifold license provides multiple activations and why it is not difficult or expensive to acquire additional activations in case of need. In some cases of Windows upgrades in place between closely-related Windows versions such as transitions from Windows 7 to Windows 8, users report that activation is "remembered" and use of an additional activation will not be required; however, such cases should not be expected since results may vary depending upon many factors such as specific hardware and software configurations as well as specific Windows processes controlled by and known only to Microsoft that are subject to change without warning. The only way to know for sure is to try and to be ready to utilize an additional activation key if necessary, acquiring an additional key if all prior keys have been used.

Someone else got my Manifold license for me and Manifold tech support will not assist me with activation. How do I get assistance with activation? Contact whoever got your license for you for assistance. If that is not an option, then carefully read the links above and this page and with 99.999% certainty you will find the answer you seek, almost certainly in the first three links above. If you are in an organization the designated licensee is the sole and exclusive contact with Manifold. Manifold will only support the original licensee using the original email to which serial numbers were sent.

Why does Manifold provide activation support only to the original licensee? Short answer: to assure privacy and to avoid driving up costs for customers who honor their agreements. Longer: There are three main reasons for this. First, serial numbers and activation keys are confidential information and Manifold will not risk assisting anyone who may be using someone else's license without authorization. Second, Manifold provided important information about activation to the original licensee but has no control over whether the original licensee passed on that information along with the license to some other person. Manifold won't burn customer funds (all expenditures come from customer funds in a commercial company) to remedy any failure to communicate between the original licensee and some other recipient.

Third, the original licensee knows what they agreed to as part of procuring the license, specifically, they know that they agreed any support would be paid support and that any activation support would be for them only. The original licensee also agreed not to transfer their license to anyone who does not in turn also agree to the same. Manifold is not going to argue with people who don't think that the original deal agreed to by the original licensee somehow does not apply to them as well.

One of our employees wasted a few Activation keys. Can those be restored? No. It is unfortunate an employee used a serial number contrary to the wishes of your organization, but that is not a matter in which Manifold intervenes. Manifold's sole role is to issue serial numbers, to advise licensees to be careful not to waste Activation keys and to then leave it up to the licensee how they choose to use serial numbers. Licensees normally choose to deploy serial numbers carefully, taking the usual managerial precautions to prevent unauthorized, inexpert or negligent employees from wasting assets. However, it is up to the licensee what level of care they choose to apply.

Managers will sometimes hear excuses from a subordinate about "accidentally" using up an activation. Note that there are several warnings and confirmations on the way to using up an Activation key to steer inattentive people away from cluelessness. For example, the final confirmation dialog has the following warning text:

Are you sure you want to get an Activation key?

* If you press OK this transaction cannot be undone.
* If you get an Activation key it cannot be given back.
* If you get an Activation key you cannot get a refund for this Manifold license.
* If you do not understand any of the above, do not press OK.

Press OK to get an Activation key.
Press Cancel to abandon this transaction.

Someone cannot fetch an Activation key by accident: they have to deliberately command the system through multiple confirmations to do so, being fully advised once an Activation key is fetched it cannot be given back. Note that it is not normally a financial tragedy to waste a key or two. Keys usually are either free or inexpensive, so it is not like crashing the company jet.

How do I transfer my Manifold license from one computer to a different computer? Login as Administrator for all of the following steps. See Administrator Login. Step 1 - Make sure you have your original serial number email so you can copy and paste your serial number without typographical errors. Step 2 - Check the serial number on the Status Page to verify you have an activation remaining. Step 3 - Uninstall Manifold from the old computer using the Windows Control Panel's applet for uninstalling programs. Step 4 - Download the latest Manifold installation file for your version of Manifold (installation files come in either 32-bit or 64-bit versions) onto the new computer and install it. Step 5 - Launch Manifold and provide your serial number, getting an Activation key.

Is my Manifold license locked to me? Can I transfer my license to another user? Manifold installation files downloaded from the website, licenses, serial numbers or activation keys aren't locked to or bound to or identified with any specific user. That makes it easy for companies and resellers to procure software for distribution within their companies or to their clients. But that also means that anyone who has a serial number for a license can use it, so be careful not to give out a serial number to anyone who you don't trust to use it. But that also makes it easy to transfer a license you have obtained: simply uninstall Manifold from your computer and then give your serial number to the person you want to have it. The transfer is then just like tranferring a Manifold license from one computer to a different computer.

Do not continue using Manifold because if the same serial number is run simultaneously on multiple computers that is a violation of your license and could result in the serial number being revoked automatically. Also, make sure to give all information you received from Manifold, like the serial number email, to the new recipient. Note that you can only transfer your license to someone else if the recipient agrees to all the terms and conditions for the Manifold license.

Must I activate Manifold to get a fully operational license or to remove limitations in the license? No. There is no such thing as a limited Manifold license that is a "demo" or "trial" license with any sort of limitation. Every license issued by Manifold is a full-power, fully complete license right from the very first day and requires no activation for fully functional operation. If you have any difficulty operating the software, don't think you need to activate it to turn on some feature that appears not to be running. That's not the problem (to find the problem, consult the user manual or contact tech support for assistance using the procedure given in the Contact Tech Support page).

Activation is purely a mechanism that allows easy experimentation with different computer configurations during the first 30 days of a license's life while discouraging piracy thereafter, and it provides a way of keeping track of which licenses are still under warranty. For the first thirty days of every license's life no activation is required. You may install it on however machines you like during the first 30 days of the life of a license. There is no need to activate to "turn on" any feature or to remove any limitation. Every license is full power, fully functional, all the time. Note that this is a very different approach than some software, which provides a limited "trial" software version that has some restricted or missing capabilities, such as disabled printing or disabled file saving or some limited number of launches or some other limitation, until an activation code or other authorization code is provided. Manifold software is always fully functional all of the time.

Can't I just keep setting my system clock back every 30 days to run forever without activation? Sure, if you don't mind doing that. Manifold will run forever in that case as a fully operational license with no limitations and no need to activate. Some users do just that if they find Activation is inconvenient, or just if they want to try out different combinations of hardware. Manifold uses a relaxed approach to copy protection that is not as harsh as some schemes that won't allow such relaxed, full-power operation without utilizing a specialized licensing procedure or which limit the software to a limited number of launches, a limited number of saves or otherwise limit functionality. However, if you keep resetting your system clock that is something easy to get confused about or it may interfere with the operation of other software that takes a harsher approach to copy protection.

It's not a good idea to use this method to share one Manifold license with your friends or to try to run one Manifold license on many machines because if the same serial number is run simultaneously on multiple computers that is a violation of your license and could result in the serial number being revoked automatically.

How can I tell if Manifold has been activated on my machine? Easy: launch Manifold and if it launches without showing an Activation dialog the Manifold license on your machine has been activated. You can see what serial number was used for the license by launching the Help - About dialog. The Help - About dialog will also show what extensions have been activated. Extensions listed as installed have been activated.

I have Manifold 8.00 Professional installed. I just bought 8.00 Enterprise and would like to switch to that on my machine. How do I install 8.00 Enterprise? When your Enterprise order is processed a new Enterprise serial number will be sent to you by email. Assuming you are installing on the same computer system on which your Professional license is running: 1. Login as Administrator. See Administrator Login. 2. Launch Manifold. 3. In the Help - Activate dialog enter the new serial number for your Enterprise license that was provided to you in the serial number email. To avoid typographic errors, use Copy to copy the serial number from the serial number email and Paste to paste it into the dialog. Activate it. When Manifold restarts the system will now be running as an Enterprise license.

I have a 32-bit Manifold license. How can I use that to get a 64-bit Manifold license? Visit the Online Store and procure the 64-bit license desired. In earlier times Manifold offered partial upgrade credits for 32-bit license trade-ins to higher priced 64-bit licenses, but now that 64-bit licenses have become less costly than the former 32-bit licenses such partial credits no longer exist.

I have Manifold 8.00 Professional (32-bit) installed on my 64-bit Windows system. I just bought the x64 version. How do I install that? When your order is processed a new 64-bit Professional serial number will be sent to you by email. Assuming you are installing on the same computer system on which your Professional license is running: 1. Login as Administrator. See Administrator Login. 2. Uninstall Manifold using the Windows Control Panel applet. 3. Download and install the 64-bit Manifold installation package from the Product Downloads page. 4. Launch Manifold. 5. In the Help - Activate dialog enter the new 64-bit serial number that was provided to you in the serial number email.

To avoid typographic errors, use Copy to copy the serial number from the serial number email and Paste to paste it into the dialog. Activate it. When Manifold restarts the system will now be running as a 64-bit Professional license.

Note: If any extensions were activated on that computer they will automatically be recognized and will still work but now in 64-bit mode.

I just upgraded from a 32-bit license to a 64-bit license. Do I need to re-install or re-activate my Geocoding Tools, Business Tools or Surface Tools extensions? Not if the upgrade was done on the same computer system. First, note that extensions are never "installed" - there is no such thing as a separate installation package for an extension. There is only one Manifold installation package (which comes in two versions, a 32-bit version and a 64-bit version) and that package installs the potential for all licenses and all extensions. You turn on an extension by activating it using the serial number for that extension. If you upgraded your Manifold license from 32-bit to 64-bit on the same computer system that was running the 32-bit license there is no need for activation of extensions since they have already been activated on that system. Extensions take their "bitness" from whatever is the main Manifold System license.

If you upgrade that main license from 32-bit to 64-bit any extensions that were previously activated will automatically run in the 64-bit license.

Example: John has a 64-bit Windows computer. To save a bit of money he has installed and activated a 32-bit installation of Manifold Personal + Geocoding. This means he has activated his main license using the Manifold serial number provided to him by email and has also used the Help - Activate Extension dialog to activate the Geocoding Tools serial number that was also provided in the serial number email. After a while John starts working with larger data and decides to upgrade to 64-bit Manifold. He buys 64-bit Manifold Personal x64. He reads the FAQ above and then uninstalls the 32-bit Manifold installation, downloads and installs the 64-bit installation and using his new 64-bit Manifold Personal x64 serial number activates it. When he launches Manifold he sees that Geocoding Tools are still there, just now running in 64-bit mode along with all the rest of Manifold.

So how do I upgrade from 32-bit to 64-bit if I move to a new computer system or load a new 64-bit Windows system? That's just like a fresh install of Manifold. Suppose you were running a 32-bit computer with 32-bit Windows and now you buy a new 64-bit computer with 64-bit Windows. Buy a new 64-bit Manifold license. You can then install that new 64-bit Manifold license on the new computer. You'll also have to activate any extensions on the new computer using the same serial number that was provided in the original serial number email for that extension.

If you continue running that old license on the 32-bit computer while also running the new 64-bit license on the new computer you risk auto-revocation of the new license as well as the old. A "trade in" replaces the old license with a new license.

It is not getting a new license in addition to retaining the old license. It's just like trading in an older automobile when buying a new automobile: you don't get to keep and use the old automobile while still getting the benefit of a reduced, trade-in price on the new automobile.

I have licensed a 64-bit Manifold edition. Can I use my 64-bit license serial number to activate a 32-bit Manifold installation? Yes. The serial number you get for a 64-bit Manifold license can activate either a 64-bit or a 32-bit Manifold installation. For example, suppose you have 32-bit Windows computer today but you know in a few months you'll be upgrading to 64-bit Windows. You could use a 32-bit Manifold installation file to install 32-bit Manifold on your 32-bit Windows system and use the serial number from a 64-bit Manifold license to activate it. In a few months when you upgrade your computer to 64-bit Windows you could use a 64-bit Manifold installation file to install 64-bit Manifold on your 64-bit Windows system and use your 64-bit Manifold license serial number to activate it.

I have licensed a 32-bit Manifold edition. Can I use it to install Manifold on a 64-bit Windows computer? Yes, albeit limited to 32-bit operation only. You must download the 32-bit installation package and install using that. When Manifold runs on your 64-bit Windows installation it will run as a 32-bit program. You can't use a 32-bit Manifold license to turn on a 64-bit Manifold installation. If you want to run 64-bit Manifold on 64-bit Windows, you'll have to license a 64-bit version of Manifold. Well worth it for the performance possible with 64-bit software through better memory utilization!

I downloaded and installed the 64-bit Manifold installation on a 64-bit Windows computer and then used a 32-bit Manifold serial number and now it won't work. What should I do? It will work fine in 32-bit mode. Begin by reading the 32-bit and 64-bit Manifold Editions topic. Don't skim or skip words. Read every word carefully. Now you know how to launch Manifold in 32-bit mode on a 64-bit system. If you do that you'll see that Manifold works fine, just only in 32-bit mode since you used a 32-bit serial number to turn it on. If you are making an installation for inexpert users it is a good idea to login as Administrator and then uninstall the current installation, download and install the 32-bit Manifold installation and then just use that. It won't need activation since the previous 32-bit activation will be "remembered."

A better long term solution if you have 64-bit Windows, of course, is to get a 64-bit Manifold serial number so you can use the 64-bit installation in 64-bit mode.

I acquired my license and received a serial number more than thirty days ago. Can I still install Manifold System? Yes. You can run Manifold System but you will need to activate your installation since the time period available for preliminary installation has already expired. Launch Manifold and in the Activation dialog provide the serial number and then get an Activation key via the web. Done!

I received my serial number a long time ago and never got around to installing Manifold. Can I still activate my license? Yes. Serial numbers never expire. As long as you haven't used up the activations allotted to your serial number, you can activate the license using your serial number. Note that re-activation of old or obsolete licenses may not continue to be supported once future versions of Manifold are released. Although manifold.net may voluntarily support use of activation keys for outdated versions of Manifold for some reasonable period of time (such as three years) licensees should not expect such support, or expect it to continue forever.

I tried to get an Activation key for my 30 Day Lease but I cannot get an Activation Key? Activation is not necessary and is not possible for a Lease. Activation allows a license to run forever after the initial 30 days. A 30 Day Lease is limited to the first 30 days of operation and cannot be activated for extended, permanent use beyond the initial 30 day term of the Lease. A serial number for a 30 Day Lease cannot be used to activate the license for permanent use. Note that as with all Manifold licenses, no activation is required for full use of the product during the initial 30 days of the license.

After a previously successful installation and activation I need to activate again, but the System ID box is empty. Something has changed in your system that has made it impossible for Manifold to find a .NET assembly that needs to be used. Uninstall Manifold and then reinstall it. If it doesn't fix the problem, try repairing the Microsoft .NET framework using the Microsoft control panel applet, and then uninstall Manifold and reinstall it.

I tried to get an Activation key on the Manifold activation web site (doing a manual activation) with my serial number and the web site would not give me one. Check the obvious first:

  • Check the serial number on the Status Page to verify it is a valid serial number for a Manifold product. Note the product reported - is it the product you are trying to activate?
  • Did you correctly enter the serial number? Use Copy and Paste from the original serial number email sent to you by Manifold to avoid typographic errors. Include the hyphens, do not change upper case to lower case and make sure to otherwise enter the serial number exactly as it was given to you. Don't use a version of the serial number that may have been edited by word processing software that automatically does "smart" editing to change the characters used for hyphens or which makes any other changes. Use Copy and Paste from the original serial number email sent to you by Manifold.
  • Has the serial number been revoked? If so, it cannot be used to fetch an Activation key. See below.
  • Did you provide the System ID copied exactly from the Activation dialog for the target system? You can't re-use a System ID from a different system.
  • Copy the serial number from the original serial number email message. Don't copy it from the Activation dialog where it is masked off by XXX characters at the end so that it cannot be stolen.
  • Did you obtain the serial number from Manifold? If you obtained your license and serial number from a third party it might not be a valid serial number.
  • Has the serial number been used up? You can only get five Activation keys for each serial number at the activation web site. If you or anyone else has been getting Activation keys with that serial number, it could be used up. Keep in mind that if you or someone else has been fetching Activation keys using the Get Activation Key via the Web button, each time you activate Manifold in that manner you use up one of your five Activation keys. You might be able to get additional Activation keys: See the Additional Activation Keys page for details.
  • Some serial numbers allow a limited period of operation without the ability to obtain an Activation key. Such serial numbers are issued to journalists or other reviewers to allow a limited period of operation. If you have such a serial number the key server will not give you an Activation key.
  • Try using Internet Explorer 5.5 or 6.0 as your browser. Some other browsers have JavaScript errors without reporting those errors. Firefox may be a cool browser, but some versions of it are not able to deal with elementary javascript without errors.
  • Make sure scripting is enabled in your browser. Some people turn off scripting for security reasons, but that prevents the Activation web site from working.
  • Make sure you are using a PC. If you are using a Mac, make sure your browser settings are the same as would be used on Windows.

The serial number Status Page says my serial number has been revoked. Why would that be? There are several reasons why a serial number might be revoked. The most common are:

  • Has your serial number been traded in for an upgrade or upgrade credit? Example: if you have traded in a serial number for a 32-bit license to get an upgrade credit for a 64-bit license the old 32-bit license serial number is revoked. Use your new 64-bit serial number. Example: if you have traded in any Manifold serial number for upgrade credit to obtain a higher Manifold license at a discount the serial number that was traded in has been revoked. Use the new serial number for the higher product you obtained. Example: if you have upgraded from 7x to 8.00 and have traded in your 7x serial number to get a new 8.00 serial number the old 7x serial number has been revoked and will no longer function. An upgrade is not a free second license: it is a replacement for a previous license.
  • A special case of upgrades: If you have increased the number of floating licenses in a Manifold License Server installation that results in a new serial number issued for your License Server. The old serial number, as with all serial numbers replaced by an upgrade, is revoked.
  • Serial numbers for 30-Day Lease products are reported as revoked since Leases run for 30 days without activation and cannot be used to fetch Activation keys.
  • Did the credit card holder who paid for your license issue a chargeback, attempt to reverse a payment or raise any dispute regarding payment? If so, the serial number has been revoked. As they say, "no pay, no play!"
  • Have you installed and operated at the same time the same serial number on more than one machine? If so, your serial number may have been auto-revoked for software piracy. A Manifold End User License Agreement (EULA) authorizes you to use the product on only one machine at a time. If you have obtained Manifold lawfully you have agreed to this condition.
  • Have you otherwise violated your EULA? For example, if your serial number appears in a public forum such as an Internet posting or in hacker lists of serial numbers used to steal software it will be revoked.
  • If you obtained your serial number from a third party you have trusted that third party not to cheat or otherwise do something that will get your serial number revoked. For example, if that third party used their credit card to obtain the license they passed on to you and then they attempt to reverse charges your serial number will be revoked. For example, if that third party retained a copy of the serial number and continued to use it after supposedly transferring the license to you that may trigger the auto-revocation provision. Do not obtain licenses from third parties who might endanger those licenses.
  • Very Important: It is up to licensees to keep track of which serial numbers they have upgraded, whether they have attempted to reverse charges, whether they have attempted to commit software piracy or otherwise violate the EULA. If you are the original licensee and you have not kept track of why a serial number has been revoked Manifold tech support is happy to investigate and report to you why the serial number has been revoked; however, that will automatically cost one standard tech support token.

I tried to visit the Activation web site and got a Javascript error. Use a browser that functions correctly with Javascript. Since you must have IE6 installed for Manifold, we suggest using Internet Explorer. If you are using a non-Microsoft browser, try using IE.

If I accidentally press the "Create New Activation Key" button twice on the Activation Keys web page, will I waste an Activation key? No. Once an Activation key is generated for a serial number, if the same serial number is used again the web site will return that same Activation key throughout the first 24 hours of the 72 hour life of that Activation key. If you press the button several times you will get the same key back several times. This is a safety measure to avoid wasting keys. The same Activation key will be returned even if you use a different System ID with the same serial number so if you intend to install the same serial number on a desktop machine and also on a portable computer (the only licensed use of the same serial number on more than one machine), you should wait at least 24 hours between activating the desktop machine and getting an Activation key for the portable computer.

I entered my serial number into the Activation dialog but Manifold will not launch or reports an authentication error or that the serial number is invalid. Check the obvious first, including the Troubleshooting section at the top of this topic:

  • Did you correctly enter the serial number? Use Copy and Paste from the original serial number email sent to you by Manifold to avoid typographic errors. Include the hyphens, do not change upper case to lower case and make sure to otherwise enter the serial number exactly as it was given to you. Don't use a version of the serial number that may have been edited by word processing software that automatically does "smart" editing to change the characters used for hyphens or which makes any other changes. Use Copy and Paste from the original serial number email sent to you by Manifold.
  • Did you obtain the serial number from Manifold? If you obtained your license and serial number from a third party it might not be a valid serial number.
  • Has the preliminary installation period expired? If it is after 30 days from the date the serial number was created you will also need an Activation key to activate Manifold.
  • Is your system date set accurately?
  • Have you tried to get an Activation key for the same serial number twice in less than 24 hours? You must wait at least 24 hours before getting a different Activation key for the same serial number. This is to discourage piracy and to save people from accidentally using up their Activation keys.
  • Are you trying to use a serial number issued for an extension (such as Business Tools, Geocoding Tools or Surface Tools) to activate Manifold System itself, or vice versa are you trying to use a Manifold System serial number to activate an extension?
  • If you are entering both a serial number and an Activation key, have you mixed up a serial number for one license with an Activation key that was fetched using a different serial number? Activation keys only work with the serial number with which they were fetched.
  • A specific case of the above error: are you trying to use a serial number for a 32-bit Manifold product with a 64-bit Manifold installation? Running Manifold System in full 64-bits requires purchasing an x64 Manifold System product to get a 64-bit serial number. See the 32-bit and 64-bit Manifold Editions topic.
  • Is the serial number for the same Manifold release that has been installed? You can't use a 7x serial number to launch an 8.00 installation, for example.

I entered a serial number and Activation key and Manifold worked OK, but now it does not. It is most likely that you did not use the Administrator login in Windows or that your login did not have Administrator privileges in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 or 2003, Windows XP or Windows 2000 when you used the Activation dialog to permanently install Manifold. The usual scenario is as follows:

  • The user has a non-Administrator account that they use for daily operation.
  • When first installing Manifold, the user reads all the material, logs in as Administrator and installs the product. When the Activation dialog launches, the user provides a serial number (only) and the product launches OK.
  • Over the next few days and weeks the user logs in via the non-Administrator account and continues using the system in a routine way, including launching and using Manifold.
  • One day when launching Manifold, the Activation dialog launches and announces to the user that activation is required. This happens because it has been 30 days since the serial number has been issued so now it is time to activate the license for continued operation.
  • Right away, the user presses the Get Activation Key via the Web button to fetch an Activation key and presses the Accept button, ignoring all warnings about not having Administrator privileges. Manifold launches OK, but it is running in emergency mode for one session only.
  • However, that previous step was an error because the user was logged in using his or her routine non-Administrator account. What has happened is that because it was several days or weeks after the initial installation, the user has forgotten the warnings to log in as Administrator when either a) installing Manifold or b) providing keys to the Activation dialog.
  • Manifold will accept an Activation key in non-Administrator mode, but it only does so for that session as an emergency way of allowing Manifold to function even if the user cannot find someone right away with Administrator privileges.
  • If you are sure it is not an Administrator privileges issue, something was changed in your system (Windows re-installation, restore from pre-installation image, hard disk changed, etc.), or you have tried installing on a virtual machine, through terminal server or some other unlicensed Windows. Someone might have tried to jump back to a previous Restore point in Windows, for example.
  • Not Administrator? - You must be logged in as the Administrator account in Windows 7 or Windows Vista and must have true Administrator privileges in Windows 2008 or 2003, XP and 2000. Perplexed that Manifold says you aren't Administrator in Windows 7 or Vista when you think you are? See the Administrator Login page.

I activated Manifold and it ran OK for years but now it has suddenly stopped working and has raised the Activation dialog. I have installed no new programs or made any changes to my computer. What is the problem? Something has destroyed the activation status on your computer. The most common reasons:

  • The system date has changed. Old laptops can have unstable clocks, so you might find your system date is not today's date. Reset the clock to today's date to solve the problem.
  • A Windows restore has been done to a point before Manifold activation. Undo the restore.
  • "I have installed no new programs or made any changes to my computer." Often said, but never believed by the veteran tech support engineer. People install new programs all the time. Every time you visit a web site with "active" content you install new programs, to name just one of zillions of ways in which people install new programs without realizing it. Some such programs can have very destructive effects.
  • There has indeed been a change in your Windows system that can affect activation status. For the same reason people don't realize when they get hit with a virus, it is easily possible that without realizing it you have installed some program or virus that has changed things. Some viruses make significant alterations in the registry and elsewhere as part of attempting to prevent anti-virus software from eradicating them, and such viruses can affect activation due to the havoc they wreak upon Windows.
  • There has been a serious change in your hardware or intermittent failure of key components. Setting aside the obvious case of someone who changes hard disks, changes the motherboard and upgrades from XP to Vista and still insists "I've made no changes," there can occur very serious changes in hardware that users might not realize have happened. Especially with aging laptops it might be the case that your hard disk or disk controller or motherboard is failing in a way that has blotted out key sectors on your disk, much as degenerative dementia blots out parts of human brain function. In computers as in humans this can be a destructive result of the aging process.
  • You are utilizing virtualization software and have forgotten that each such virtual machine is a true machine: bring those machines into existence and out and you are indeed changing your computer.

Unfortunately, given the inherent complexities of the latter three scenarios it is up to you to debug what is going on with your system. If you are sure the hardware is not failing, the best course to recover from chaos caused by unknown programs or viruses is to re-format the hard disk, to reload Windows from original Microsoft media (to avoid infected backups), to install industrial-grade antivirus software with current virus definitions and then finally to restore data and programs from backup media after careful screening for viruses. You can then re-install Manifold and use one of your remaining activations to activate the new Manifold installation.

My computer used to run an old Manifold license or application. I uninstalled that and installed Manifold and wanted to use my new Manifold license, but when I launch Manifold to give it my new serial number no Activation dialog comes up and instead I see the error message "Can not launch in interactive mode." What gives? A Manifold runtime license was previously installed on that computer so now that runtime serial number is "remembered" on that computer as how Manifold should configure itself when launched. That "memory" will persist even if you uninstall the old installation and install a new Manifold installation using the latest product download. Since runtime licenses do not have an interactive user interface you must use command line activation to force the Activation dialog open so you can provide your new serial number.

Read carefully and follow the instructions in the Command Line Activation section of the Activation Keys and Serial Numbers Help topic. You must, of course, be logged in as the Administrator. Once you force the Activation dialog open you can enter your new serial number in the usual way.

I have several Manifold System licenses and serial numbers. Can I freely mix Activation keys? No. Each Activation key will work only with the serial number and System ID that was used to obtain it from the Manifold Activation key server.

I entered my serial number and Activation key into the Activation dialog but Manifold will not launch or the serial number and key are not accepted. Check the obvious first:

  • Did you correctly enter the serial number and the Activation key? Use Copy and Paste from the original serial number email sent to you by Manifold to avoid typographic errors. Include the hyphens, do not change upper case to lower case and make sure to otherwise enter the serial number exactly as it was given to you. Don't use a version of the serial number that may have been edited by word processing software that automatically does "smart" editing to change the characters used for hyphens or which makes any other changes. Use Copy and Paste from the original serial number email sent to you by Manifold. Be sure you are copying the entire string and pasting correctly without any errors. Do not make any changes, such as removing hyphens or changing from upper to lower case. Use the original serial number, not the version masked off with XXX characters at the end.
  • If you own multiple Manifold licenses, have you mixed up a serial number for one license with an Activation key that was fetched using a different serial number? Activation keys only work with the serial number and System ID with which they were fetched.
  • Did you obtain the Activation key from the Manifold Activation key web page? If you obtained your serial number or Activation key from a third party it may not be valid.
  • Have 72 hours passed since the time the Activation key was created by the Manifold Activation key web page? If so, the Activation key has expired. You will need to get another Activation key.
  • Are you trying to use a serial number and Activation key issued for an extension (such as Business Tools, Geocoding Tools or Surface Tools) to activate Manifold System itself, or vice versa are you trying to use a Manifold System serial number to activate an extension?
  • Is the system date reasonably accurate? Serial numbers and Activation keys encode the date they were issued and will not work with system dates that are obviously wrong such as a system date before the date of issue of the serial number or Activation key.
  • Are you using a nonstandard program that replaces or modifies the standard Windows interface so that Copy and Paste operations are modified?
  • Are you running any programs in background other than standard Windows processes and services? When running the Activation dialog, make sure no other programs are running in background except standard Microsoft Windows processes and services. Do not run anti-virus checkers, uninstallers, registry "protectors," network checkers, special administrative protection programs or other such programs. These may interfere with the activation and permanent installation process.
  • Did you install using the 64-bit installation file but then tried to activate using a 32-bit Manifold serial number? If so, you've activated Manifold in 32-bit mode. You can launch the 32-bit installation that is there, or you can uninstall Manifold, download and install the 32-bit installation file and that will already be activated.

Can I transfer a Manifold System license from one computer to another? During the preliminary installation period you can install Manifold System on any computer system using only the serial number. After the preliminary installation period has expired, a license transfer will require normally require reinstalling Manifold System and using up an activation.

Can I upgrade my computer system without re-installing Manifold? As long as you don't make major changes in hardware or software, probably yes. Simple upgrades such as adding a new graphics card will normally not require a re-installation of Manifold. Some changes in hard disk structure will require re-installation of Manifold and the use of an activation. The only way to know for sure is to try. Accordingly, it is wise to do any major upgrades during the period of preliminary installation.

Can I upgrade Windows without re-installing Manifold? In some cases, such as upgrades from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10, yes. In other cases, installing a new version of Windows will usually require a re-installation of Manifold and use of an activation.

Can I remove and re-install Manifold without a new activation? Yes. Even if you remove Manifold, on the next installation Manifold will know that you have already activated Manifold on this system so it will not require a new activation, provided that you have not made any changes to your system in between the uninstall and the re-install that would wipe out activation.

Can I remove Manifold from one computer and install it on a different computer without using up an activation? No. Installing Manifold on a new computer will use up a fresh activation.

Why can't I install Manifold on a new computer using the original activation for the old computer? Activations are only good for 72 hours for the specific computer for which they were fetched. If you could re-cycle an old activation forever to new computers that would not be an effective protection against software piracy.

Can I install a new Manifold serial number without a new activation? No. Installing a new serial number requires a new activation. Activation is locked to only one serial number and system ID. For example, if you have installed Professional Edition and you would like to switch to Enterprise Edition you will need an Enterprise Edition serial number and a fresh activation for that new Enterprise Edition serial number. See the Help - Activate topic for discussion and an example.

Can I install a Manifold Update or Service Pack without a new Activation key? Yes. You can uninstall the previous Manifold installation and then install the update, which also may be known as a Service Pack (SP), without requiring a new activation. The system will "remember" the previous activation even though Manifold was uninstalled. Of course, this assumes you have made no other changes to your system that would require a new activation in between uninstalling the previous Manifold installation and then installing an update. You cannot, for example, uninstall the previous Manifold installation, install a new version of Windows, and then expect to install an update without requiring an activation.

Can I use a serial number from one edition of Manifold with a newer edition of Manifold? No. Each new major release of Manifold requires a new serial number. For example, a Manifold 6.50 serial number will not work with newer editions such as 7x or 8.00. Manifold provides low cost, limited time upgrade offers to licensees of the previous release whenever a major new release is issued.

What is a "substantial" change in Windows that requires a new Activation key? Any re-installation of Windows or upgrade to a different edition of Windows will require a new activation. Other major configuration changes (such as Registry configuration or rollback to a pre-Manifold restore point) may require a new activation.

Why do serial numbers allow only a limited time period of preliminary installation? This is a measure against software piracy that is designed to allow legitimate licensees time to experiment with different machine configurations and to sort out any hardware or software configuration issues before they commit to a permanent installation.

Why do Activation keys have a limited life of 72 hours? Activation keys have a limited life of 72 hours from the time they are issued in order to discourage attempts to clone installations in violation of the license and to otherwise discourage software piracy.

Why are serial numbers limited to five activations? This is an anti-piracy measure. The preliminary installation period allows time to sort out the initial Manifold installation before the first activation is used. After that, four additional activations will allow users to re-install should Manifold ever need to be re-installed in the future. Five activations are plenty to allow users to deal with changing system configurations for a single license, but they are not so many that people can afford to be careless with them or to give them away to enable piracy. After time, additional keys might be available for use over very long periods of time. See the Additional Activation Keys page for details.

I upgrade my computer system frequently and I need more than five activations. What do I do? See the Additional Activation Keys page. You get a free additional activation every year and can procure two additional activations every year at low cost. If you run out of activations despite such free or low cost additional activations, you can always trade in a license for upgrade credit and possibly get additional activations at even lower cost per activation. If taking advantage of all that is not enough, you must buy additional Manifold licenses to get the activations you need. If you are a member of an organization that is operating a Manifold System License Server you can avoid burning up activations by taking advantage of the License Server.

What is to prevent me from giving my serial number to four friends who each then obtain an activation? If you are willing to break the law, nothing prevents you from doing so except your own self-interest. From a legal perspective, that is a crime and a violation of the License agreement. Engaging in software piracy risks criminal and civil penalties. As a practical matter, it is risky to do because your friends may use up the activations you need yourself. If you ever need an activation to re-install Manifold (if case your hard disk blows up or if you must re-install Windows) you might not have an activation remaining. In addition, whenever you disclose your serial number to anyone else you take the risk that they will not keep it secret. The sort of person who trades serial numbers to commit software piracy is often the sort of person who cannot resist passing on the serial number to yet another friend.

Before you know it, your activations could be used up. Your serial number might even be published on a hacker web site and your serial number could be cancelled by Manifold, permanently denying you the ability to use Manifold System. Even if your friends don't publish your serial number openly they might use it to try to get tech support in some utterly idiotic way that will use up your tech support tokens. For example, if your friend contacts tech support using your serial number for support on getting a free additional activation key to work they'll waste one of your tech support tokens. Last but not least, if you disclose your serial number to someone else they might use it to upgrade to some wonderful new Manifold release before you can do so. They'll have the wonderful new release and you won't be able to get it, because your serial number will have been revoked when it was traded in on an upgrade. It is easy to avoid such problems by keeping your serial number secret.

Can I use the same Activation key to install Manifold to more than one system during the 72-hour period the key is enabled? No, because each Activation key is good for only one machine.

What happens if I run the same license on more than one machine at the same time? Do not violate the License by using the same license on more than one machine at the same time. Manifold System can detect when other instances of the same license are running on machines that are accessible to it. If you use the same license on multiple machines at once, sooner or later Manifold will automatically cancel that serial number and will cease functioning. To discourage software pirates who attempt to find and disable such protective measures, this auto-detection function is set to a very long trigger time: it could be many weeks or months of simultaneous usage before Manifold decides that "enough is enough" and permanently stops functioning.

My organization needs to use many Manifold licenses. How should I install them? Use the Manifold System License Server product to centrally manage your licenses.

I acquired my Manifold license from a reseller and have not received a serial number. Can Manifold help me? No. If you acquired your Manifold license from a third party and have not received your serial number you must contact the third party to resolve the difficulty. Manifold will not intervene in a dispute between you and a third party. Manifold does not enter into any special agreements with any dealers or distributors to represent the company so any third party who offers to transfer a Manifold license to you is acting on their own.

What happens if my serial number is revoked? If your serial number is cancelled or revoked you will not be able to obtain activations with that serial number. In addition, sooner or later your Manifold System license will cease operating.

How might my serial number be revoked? The most frequent reason is that it has been traded in for an upgrade credit or to get an upgrade. For example, if you trade in a Professional license for upgrade credit on an Enterprise license the Professional serial number will be revoked and will no longer work. Likewise, trading in for upgrade credit a 32-bit serial number to buy a 64-bit serial number will revoke the 32-bit serial number. Serial numbers may also be revoked for a variety of business or legal reasons: non-payment, such as failure to pay a purchase order or a charge-back on a credit card transaction; automatic cancellation when Manifold itself detects multiple simultaneous usage of the same serial number on a different machine; cancellation for violation of the EULA, for example, cancellation by Manifold if your serial number appears in a public forum such as an Internet posting.

I want to acquire a Manifold license and run it forever, or at least for decades. Can that be done? Once installed a Manifold license will run as long as that computer continues to operate in sufficiently unmodified form to not require re-activation. If you are running exactly the same computer hardware without failures you can indeed run Manifold for decades.

The five activations provided for a serial number enable re-installation and re-activation within a reasonable period of time; however, re-activation of old or obsolete licenses may not continue to be supported once future versions of Manifold are released. Although Manifold may voluntarily support use of activation keys for outdated versions of Manifold for some reasonable period of time (such as two or three years) licensees should not expect such support. You should therefore budget for acquiring updates from time to time to enable Manifold installation on newer computer systems or on a repaired computer system if over the years hardware failures require re-installation. There are also programs to provide additional activation keys over time. See the Additional Activation Keys page for details.

Serial Numbers not Received by Email

When an order is processed for Manifold System the serial number for that license will be sent out by email to the email address given in the order. If you have not received your serial number by email from Manifold please visit and carefully read the Email Problems page for a list of possible errors.

VERY IMPORTANT: Problems with email reception usually cannot be solved by considering only one or two possible problems and then giving up and not taking the time to consider possible errors that are not understood or are difficult to check. It is often exactly the latter that are the source of the problem. If you don't have the technical skills to go through each item in the Email Problems page and to carefully check it, contact someone who does to assist you. Or, just use a "known good" email address like a gmail address.

Tech Tips

If you have acquired multiple Manifold licenses or licenses for both Manifold and Manifold extensions such as Surface Tools, keep track of which serial number goes with which license. For example, you can't use a Surface Tools serial number and Activation key to activate Manifold System.

Activation keys work only with the single serial number and the single System ID that were used to fetch them. You can't mix and match Activation keys with different serial numbers or use on different machines. You can't change a serial number on the same machine, say, from a Professional to an Enterprise license without needing a new activation key for the new serial number.

Professionally produced counterfeit or pirated software is widely available in some countries. However, the use of such software poses risks for the unwary, including the risk that the pirated software package is actually transmitting your location to police authorities. See the Beware of Counterfeit Software essay for a discussion of some of the little-known risks of using such software.

A related topic that may be useful in some cases, such as understanding what happens to a license if former partners squabble over a Manifold serial number when dissolving a partnership, is the Maintaining Your Manifold License topic.

Notes on Copy Protection

Some folks are outraged that a software company might utilize anti-piracy measures such as serial numbers and a limited number of activations. Against the chance that some such people might be interested in the practical reasons why copy protection is employed, or that a sensible person may be called upon to calm down an angry colleague, we provide the following information:

With over 40% of the software in the US in commercial settings being used in violation of licenses and well over 95% of software in some countries being pirated copies, it's just not cost effective to create and offer software like Manifold at very low cost if copy protection methods are not employed. If you are very angry about that and disagree, that's OK: do not license Manifold software. There are always alternatives that may better fit your preferences for licensing, although none of them will have the extensive capabilities and ultimately lowest costs of Manifold.

For those folks who do choose to license Manifold, the license is not an unlimited one nor is it constructed to allow all possible users to run Manifold until the end of time no matter what happens, nor is it designed to protect irresponsible people from themselves. Providing those capabilities would be very expensive and would ruin the low cost that makes Manifold affordable to so many users. Instead, the license and copy protection mechanisms try to strike a balance that makes reasonable use possible at as low a cost as possible for as many users as possible, without driving up costs in a futile attempt to protect the world from idiocy. It's a formula that has brought exceptionally powerful GIS capabilities to more users than ever before.

Experienced users will not get hung up on the idea of "buying" a license that will run "forever," as attempting to do that will simply raise costs in most cases. It's not even a realistic proposition, as people who attempt it usually discover.

Computer hardware and software technology change so rapidly that installations more than a few years old become antiques. They become difficult to keep running because replacement software and hardware parts are not available and because newer software requires newer technology. You know exactly what we mean if you've ever tried to find RAID drivers for that old box made in 2004 you are trying to press into service today as a web server running the most recent edition of Windows. As a practical matter the great majority of software versions should not be expected to have a lifetime of more than three to five years at the most.

Manifold issues an additional activation every year, makes it possible to buy additional activations for a modest fee, and provides a fresh set of activations with new serial numbers for upgrades and new editions. Manifold issues new editions more frequently than computers become obsolete and provides a low cost upgrade path that makes it easy to get newer versions inexpensively. Some folks don't like the idea that to run Manifold "forever" they have to, in effect, "rent" a license by paying modest fees for additional activations or upgrades every now and then. However, that is a necessary consequence of evolving systems: because Manifold is not freeware newer versions will not be free. The costs of creating new editions are very high and Manifold is not willing to create such new editions without compensation. Likewise, the price we all pay for endemic software piracy is the limitation on usage and increased costs associated with copy protection mechanisms.

The current system is the least cost way Manifold has found after years of experience to assure copy protection, to provide a low initial cost and to keep the costs of upgrades as low as possible. At the time of this writing, the Manifold system has resulted in GIS software costs that are far lower than any other full-featured GIS software, in some cases over forty times less expensive than competitors. That's an amazing accomplishment that could only have been financed by assuring, through copy protection using serial numbers and activations, that everyone has paid their share.

It's true that there will always be atypical cases where some users need more activations or some users might really intend to keep antique configurations running for many years. Sometimes that happens when people have unique usage patterns, such as using laptop computers in very harsh environments where the computers need to be replaced with unusual frequency no matter how careful the user may be. Such users will have higher costs and it is only fair that they should bear their own higher expenses for their special needs.

In other cases some people live disorderly, unplanned lives and as a result will end up wasting activation keys. Some people acquire a Manifold license and then go on vacation for 30 days, so that when they return they no longer have a "free" period of 30 days before activation is required in which they can sort out any machine configuration problems. Some people don't bother to use anti-virus software or don't bother to familiarize themselves with Windows administration, so they find themselves unnecessarily burning through activations as they try to deal with the damage inflicted on machines by viruses or by imprudent machine management. Some people are so unthinkably lazy or immature they cannot be bothered to read even the simplest instructions for quick and simple activation. All such people will encounter higher costs to license Manifold because they will have to acquire additional licenses to replace the activations they have wasted.

The least cost way Manifold has found to service the above unusual needs, without forcing other users to bear the costs of those unusual needs, is to simply offer new licenses at the regular price. Of the many systems one can imagine to validate and deal with unusual situations that turns out to be the least costly method.

Note: Users who want to run old machine configurations for many years should be aware that future editions of Manifold might not run on very old configurations, so if that is the intention it would be wise order a few extra Manifold licenses of the vintage of interest while such licenses are still available. Even that strategy may be unworkable because Manifold makes no guarantee that antique licenses will be served with activations. We think a better idea is to simply get with the program and upgrade machine hardware, Windows systems and Manifold editions on a regular basis so that you are always working on the latest, super-cool new stuff the computer industry delivers. You don't have to upgrade every month, but trying to run antique hardware for 10 or 20 years is just not productive.


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About Manifold

Manifold products deliver quality, performance and value in the world's most sophisticated, most modern and most powerful spatial engineering products. Total integration ensures unbeatably low cost of ownership.