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Registering Software

Wednesday, November 10th, 2004 by | Filed Under: Uncategorized
 
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Q:
A friend of mine told me that I should always register software. Is this true? Will the software police come and get me if I don’t?

A:
OK, I’m going to take some heat for this, so just remember this is my opinion—you do what you want :-)

My feeling on registration is not to —unless you absolutely have to.

Why?

The reason I’m generally against registering software is that it usually does the customer more harm than good. For the most part, you can get tech support whether you’ve registered or not. You can normally get updates even if you’re not a registered user. About the only thing you don’t get by not registering is a bunch of advertising and phone calls.

It’s my opinion that the reasons most companies want your info is so they can turn around an sell it. This happens all the time in every industry. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had my fill of junk mail, junk e-mail, and telephone solicitors. The idea of giving these people my contact info by typing it in myself and voluntarily sending to their computer is sickening. (BTW: in case you’re worried, when you order from us we don’t sell your info—ever!)

Of course, not every company you register with will sell your info, but I’d check their privacy policy first. After all, why would they want it if they weren’t going to do anything with it? Do they have excess hard drive space in their computers that need filling? Oh, and don’t get taken in by the line that they will only give your information to their “selected advertising partners”—that’s pretty much anyone with a checkbook. Besides, once their “advertising partners” get a hold of it, what’s to stop them from selling it to others? See how easy it is to feed the Spam Machine??

There are times you really will need to register though:

Shareware Programs – These are try before you buy downloads. If you purchase them, you pretty much have to give your contact info. Since many shareware authors are just people working out of their house, you’re usually safe. Besides, you have to have basic info to run a credit card, so they are collecting it out of necessity.

Freeware Programs – These often require registration since you’re getting the program for free. Kind of a “we’ll swap you a program for contact info” deal.

Tech Support – Although most companies will give you tech support without your registration info on file, you may run across one that doesn’t (I’ve personally never had a problem, but it’s possible). Most programs will let you register right from the Help menu, so you can put this off until you need it.

Updates – Again, most companies will let you update your software without registration—but there are a few who won’t. So, if you need software updates and the company requires you to register, you probably have no choice. Be very careful with this one. Some programs will make it look like registration is required for updates when it’s really not (Norton is good for this).

Freebies – Some software companies offer free extra downloads when you register.

Annoyed To Death – Some programs will annoy you into registration with constant registration reminders. Sometimes the only relief is to register. If the option is there to print a registration form, click it then cancel the printing—this will also stop the message from appearing.

Real Requirement – Finally, some programs require you to register in order to use the software. Period. In this case, you either register or stop using the software. This is becoming more common to stop software piracy.

Keep in mind that the harder a company tries to get you to register (with the exception of shareware programs), the more likely it is that they are selling your information. Their business model may be to sell the software cheap on the front end and make up the difference by selling addresses and phone numbers on the back end.

Your best bet before giving any company any information is to check their privacy policy carefully. Take a look and see if they are going to sell your info. If they are, see if you can request that it not be sold.

OK, I’m done ranting and feel much better now. Just remember, all of this is only my “humble” opinion. If you feel your need to register, certainly do so.

~ Steve

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