Activation Reference

This topic provides troubleshooting tips for the Activation process used in current builds of Manifold products, including Release 9, SQL for ArcGIS Pro, and Release 8.   See the Legacy Activation Reference for the deprecated activation system used with older builds of Release 9 and Release 8.


For 99.99% of people the short Install and Activate and Manifold Activation, topics will cover everything they need.  This topic assumes you have read those short topics.


A summary of key points when using serial numbers and activations:



Keep it Simple

Problems with activation are always caused by something really simple.   Activation is really easy: Copy a serial number, and paste it into the Activation dialog.  Press the Activate button.  



By default, the Activation dialog will activate a license for the user login in use.  That does not require the user to have Administrator privileges.  


If you like, you can activate the license for all users on the computer by checking the Install for all users (admin) box and pressing Activate.  That will pop open the usual Windows dialog asking for Administrator credentials to get Administrator privileges if the user login being used is not an Administrator login.


Simple errors, like entering an incorrect serial number, are easy to fix.


Requirements are simple:



Let us unpack the above to debug the usual problems.

Live Internet

Activation requires an Internet connection that allows the Activation dialog to connect to Manifold's activation servers.  


If you can use a browser to visit web sites the computer has an Internet connection.  If you cannot browse web sites, you do not have an Internet connection.  Fix that problem.


The Activation dialog uses the same protocol as browsers to connect to Manifold's activation servers.  Using the same protocol as browsers means that if you have an Internet connection that works for a browser, it will work for the Activation dialog as well unless your Windows system has been modified.  If your copy of Windows came directly from Microsoft with no third party modifications, activation will work every time.


Problems arise when modifications are made to Windows that prevent the Activation dialog from connecting to Manifold's activation servers.   That is not easy to do in a way that still allows browsers to visit web sites, but it can be done.    If you or your IT department are using firewall software or other web security packages that block some Internet communications, those packages may interfere with Activation.   


If the Activation dialog cannot connect to activation servers it will report an Activation error.    If that happens,  you must find what modification has been made to Windows that prevents the Activation dialog from connecting.   Either turn off the software blocking connections, or configure it to allow the Manifold product to connect.  

True Serial Number

The number one user error that causes activation to fail is trying to use an incorrect serial number.



The most common reason for using an incorrect serial number is entering a serial number that has typographical errors or otherwise has been changed.  You might think this is really hard to mess up, but people, being human beings, do it all the time.


Do not change serial numbers: do not change any letters or numbers, do not change upper case to lower case, do not add or delete any characters, and do not copy or manipulate serial numbers with software that changes them, for example, changing hyphen characters into "smart dashes" or other characters.  When copying and pasting serial numbers, be careful to copy all of the characters.  Do not make the mistake of carelessly highlighting them so that a character or two is not copied.   Copy the serial number from the original email message from Manifold that delivered it to you.  Copying it from some other source might repeat a mistake somebody else did.  Paste it into the Activation dialog.  To avoid typographical errors, do not keyboard it manually.


The other common reason for using an incorrect serial number is trying to use a serial number for a different product.   For example, you cannot use a Release 8 serial number to activate a Release 9 installation.   You cannot use a Release 9 serial number to activate an SQL for ArcGIS Pro installation.  You cannot use a technical support token to activate a Release 9 installation.   Use the serial number for the product that was provided by Manifold when you procured the product.

One at a Time

Manifold products are licensed for installation and use on a single computer.   The same serial number can only be activated on one computer at a time.   When a serial number has been activated on one computer, activating it on a second computer will move the license to the new computer, and will de-activate it on the first computer.



The activation dialog will advise you if the serial number has already been activated on some other system, and will ask if you want to move the license.   Press Yes to move the license, and press No to not move the license.    There is no need to "de-activate" the serial number on the other computer.    When the license on that other computer checks status, as it will do every week or two, it will learn it is no longer authorized and it will deactivate itself automatically.


Sometimes users do not remember using that serial number to activate on a different computer system.   They might not realize that somebody else had access to the serial number, and used it to activate on a different computer.  Or, they might not remember that the serial number was activated on a computer system that was taken out of service or upgraded with new hardware.  To avoid confusion, managers should keep track of serial numbers and should not issue them to people who will not keep track of how they use them.    


Managers should also coach their staff to coordinate with each other, so that users who have access to the same serial number do not move the same license from each other back and forth, rapidly using up all available activations.

24 Hours Between

You can move a license from one computer to a new computer by activating the license on the new computer, but you must wait 24 hours between activations to do so.  



If you activated your license at noon on Monday on one computer, and then you change your mind and decide to move that license to a different computer, you must wait until after noon on Tuesday to do so.  The 24 hour period between activations is a safety measure to ensure activations are not accidentally used up all at once.   

Available Activations

As noted in the Manifold Activation topic, activations automatically grow back after use, so no matter how quickly we use up activations sooner or later we will have a full crop of activations available again.   If we do not move our license from computer to computer more frequently than once every three months, we will always have at least one activation available.  However, if we move the license more frequently than that, we could encounter the error message, Serial number activated on a different system.  No available activations.


We can then check the serial number on the Serial Number Status page to see the dates we used activations.  We can wait to move the license until the first activation used grows back, or, if we cannot wait and must have the license on the new computer we can buy a new product license and use the new serial number provided for that new license.    

Reasonable Time

Check the date set on the computer.  If the date and time is set to sometime in 2004, the activation process knows something is nuts.   Set the date and time to at least the current date.

Full Installation

Windows Installer packages for Manifold products will automatically install all Windows prerequisites that are missing, such as any necessary .NET or Visual C++ Redistributable libraries, but portable installations will not install missing Windows prerequisites.   Visit the downloads page for the product being installed for links to downloads for Microsoft prerequisites and install them.  



Many users, no problem - By default, activating a serial number on a computer authorizes the software for the user login that was used during activation.  If Jason logs in to the computer and activates using a serial number, the license will be up and running for him.   When Tina logs into the same computer and launches the product for the first time,  the Activation dialog will pop open for her as well.


Tina simply uses the same serial number to activate and the license will be authorized for her as well; however, no additional activation will be used.   Once a serial number is activated on a computer, using the same serial number to authorize an additional login on that same computer does not "pick" another activation from the crop of available activations.  


Authorizing for each login has two benefits:  




If you prefer to activate for all users on the computer, that is easy to do.  In the Activate dialog check the Install for all users (admin) box and pressing Activate.   You will need Administrator privileges to activate for all users on the computer.  If your login does not have Administrator privileges, Windows will pop open the usual dialog to ask you for an Administrator login and password.


Background status checks - Routine, automatic status checks run unobtrusively and will not be noticed by interactive users.  If Manifold is launched in an interactive session, that is, launched in normal interactive use, the status check is performed in a background thread to minimize startup time. If Manifold is launched as a non-interactive session, for example, via (a call into an ODBC driver or into an object model from a third-party application, the status check is always performed in the calling thread.   That avoids spawning new threads in case  the calling application is not be prepared for additional threads.  


Simultaneous, Multiple Launches - If multiple copies of Manifold have been started simultaneously, the different copies will coordinate access to license data between themselves to minimize the number of checks.  If a particular copy of Manifold cannot access license data for a prolonged period of time, for example, because a different copy performing the status check is taking a long time for the check, that particular copy will fail to start.


Release 8 License Servers - Activation of Manifold 8 using the Manifold 8 license server is not supported.    Users who use computers with no Internet connection or who are using Release 8 with License Server should continue to use build 9.0.174 for Release 9 and build 8.0.30 for Release 8.


Release 8 Web Servers - Release 8 users who are using Release 8 as a web server must make sure that the user account used for web sites can be logged in interactively, so that they can launch Release 8 under that account interactively to activate it for the first time.   A short cut is to Install for all users and to use Windows 10 or more recent Windows edition, where IIS web site accounts will automatically be activated as well.



See Also

Manifold Activation


Install and Activate


Legacy Activation Reference