How To Reinstall Trial Software After the Free Trial Has Ended
Free trials of software usually come in two forms. One offers basic features with the others locked down. The other uses a time limit to provide the full program for a fixed period of time. It is this second trial type that I am addressing today in how to reinstall trial software after the free trial has ended.
Offering a hamstrung version of a program is not an effective way to demonstrate its power or efficiency. A potential customer is less likely to buy a program if they can’t even test its full capabilities. Imposing a fixed time limit of 7, 14 or 30 days and letting customers experience the full program is more popular. It gives you the full application to test thoroughly without imposing any feature limits. Then you can make a much more informed buying decision.
But what if that trial period isn’t long enough? What if you had planned to test some software but didn’t get time? How can you reinstall trial software after the free trial has ended?
Different applications use different methods to detect whether they have been installed before. Some will just leave a file or marker in the registry or in Program Data (Windows). Other programs will have date tracking or more advanced methods of enforcing trial periods built into them. You can fool some of them, but you won’t be able to fool all of them.
Below are just some of the ways you can reinstall trial software after the free trial has ended. Not all methods will work in all circumstances, as different developers use varying methods to track trials. You will have to experiment with each to find what works for you.
Use an installation monitor
An installation monitor is a piece of software that records exactly what and where a program installs its files on your computer. If you use a monitor while installing your free trial, you can catalog what it installs. When the trial ends, you can delete every trace of that program and reinstall it, as there will be no markers left behind to tell it you’ve had the free trial before.
There are a few installation monitors out there, and Mirekusoft Install Monitor is just one of them. It tracks everything a program installs and the locations where the files are installed. You can then forensically uninstall or delete every file once you uninstall the trial, which should allow you to reinstall trial software after the free trial has ended.
Use a file uninstaller
Most built in uninstallers are lazy, and they will often miss or ignore files in the registry and on your hard drive. While the majority of the program will be uninstalled and you should regain your free space, there will always be traces of the old program somewhere in your files.
Using an uninstaller such as Revo Uninstaller or IObit Uninstaller removes every file from everywhere. If the trial program leaves a certificate file or other resource to prevent reinstallation, these apps should find and delete it.
Back up and restore the Windows registry
The Windows registry is a database of everything that has been installed and is installed on your computer. Many programs will leave traces behind here, even if you use the included uninstaller. Only if you use one of the file uninstallers above will the registry be scanned and cleaned properly.
With that in mind, why not take a snapshot of your registry and then import it once the trial has ended? Take a copy of your registry, install the program, let the trial expire, uninstall the program, and restore the copy of your registry. Simple.
- Type ‘regedit’ into the Windows search bar.
- Select File in the new registry window and Export.
- Select a safe place to keep the copy.
- Install the software and allow the trial to expire.
- Uninstall the software.
- Type ‘regedit’ into the Windows search bar.
- Select File in the new registry window and Import.
- Select your copy and select OK.
If the software uses a registry key to track trial installations, then this should work around that.
Sandboxing is another useful way to trial new software, as it creates a secure location to install the program within. That program will work normally, but it will not be able to affect your computer, and thus it won’t be able to leave any lingering files behind after it’s uninstalled. It is a great way to use software, and it is especially useful when you’re trialing new programs.
One of the best known sandbox programs is Sandboxie. Not only is it free, it is also very good at what it does. If you install your program within the sandbox, you should then be able to reinstall a program you’ve been trialing after the free trial has ended.
My final tip for reinstalling trial software after the free trial has ended is to use a virtual machine. These are useful in many different situations, but when it comes to trialing new applications they really shine. Not only do they prevent the software from messing with your main operating system, they also prevent any security issues and can be quickly deleted and reinstalled to keep any trial running for as long as you need it to.
Free VM software such as VirtualBox is ideal for this. Create a VM, install an operating system, and set everything up. Take a copy of the image you just created, install the trial software, use it, delete the VM image, and replace it with the copy. It is more labor intensive and more involved than some of the other methods, but it’s also the one that’s almost infallible!