A software activation key is actually a string of letters or numbers that are used to register or activate a software application.
Whenever you buy a commercial software program, you get an activation key with it. Often this Activation Key is written on the CD of the software that you have to scratch.
The main purpose of this Activation Key is to stop Software Piracy. At the same time, use them only and only those users who have purchased this program for use.
Where some Software Applications do not work without a valid activation key. Other programs run in “trial mode” in which their functionality is restricted. At the same time, after registering or activating the use of valid activation key of the software, you can use all the functionality of that software.
There is no such standard activation key format, but in most cases both letters and numbers are used. They often contain groups of characters that are separated by dashes for better readability. At the same time most license keys have at least 10 characters, and some even have more than 25 characters.
Let’s see an example of a typical activation key:
Developers can easily implement software activation keys in many ways.
The most basic way in this is to simply check a key, with a very large key database or list of keys. If a user enters an activation key and it matches with a key in that database, then the software becomes successfully activated.
There is also a more advanced method in which activation keys are generated dynamically, and it is based with a user’s registration information (such as an email address).
There is an algorithm in the program that checks whether the key entered by the user corresponds with the user’s email address which he used while registering the software.
Today’s modern software programs mostly use online activation, in which keys are verified in a remote server. At the same time it helps the developer to limit the use of each of the keys and revoke the keys together if needed.
Most of the time you can see the software activation keys in retail software boxes or order confirmation emails. If you want, you can open the activation window of any software program, for that you just have to locate the option of “Activate” or “Register” in that program.
NOTE: An activation key has many names such as product key, software key, license key, registration code, or serial number.