Quantcast Adobe CS3/CS4/CS5 deactivated itself, repair activation fails! [SOLVED] - digitalFAQ Forum
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  #1  
05-09-2012, 08:56 PM
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Preface

While I can understand and respect Adobe's desired to fend off software piracy, the methods in use are very buggy. Every few months, one of the Windows XP/Vista/7 computers I use forgets that it's using a licensed and activated copy of Adobe Photoshop CS3/CS4 (or Adobe Premiere CS3/CS4, or Flash Encoder CS3). This is software that I use on a daily basis across multiple systems.

Note: I've not seen it happen yet in Mac OS X, with any version of CS2, CS3, CS4 or CS5. And because I only have CS3 and CS4 on Windows, I don't personally know if the flaw still exists in CS5, though I have read online complaints. It occurs pretty equally among XP, Vista and Windows 7 computers, so no one OS is to blame.

In fact, because activation errors are so widespread, Adobe has a released a CS3/CS4 removal/repair tool. But it also does nothing, outside of waste your time.


Adobe Activation Error Message

This afternoon, I was presented with this error upon launching CS3:
Quote:
Licensing for this product has stopped working.
You cannot use this product at this time. You must repair the problem by unstalling and then reinstalling this product or contacting your IT administrator or Adobe customer support for help.
cs3-deactivated1.jpg

This is one of those entirely worthless error messages, and the advice is even more useless.
  1. Uninstalling and reinstalling does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to fix this error. Nothing. Nada. I wasted a few hours trying that, as CS3 and CS4 uninstall slowly, and reinstall even slower. After all was completed, the error remained.
  2. I am the "IT administrator".
  3. Adobe customer support is about as useless as this guy:


FLEXnet Service Stopped!

The real problem was that the FLEXnet service stopped itself, for whatever reason. This is re-enabled by going to the Windows Services page. Simply right-click on My Computer and go to Manage, or type "services.msc" into Start > Run, and then locate the FLEXnet Licensing Service. Sort by service name, if needed. If you installed Adobe software, trust that it's going to be there.

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Activation Broken

After that's done, you'll go back to your Adobe CS3/CS4 program, and attempt to launch it, and it'll fail again. Now you'll get an error stating that the

Quote:
Temporary Activation Expired
You must re-activate to use this product.
The product's activation is broken or invalid. To attempt to fix this problem you may either:
- Click Re-Activate <---- does not work!
- Click on the Repair Activation FAQ link to learn more about ways to fix this problem. <---- useless!
- Click on the Phone Activation link to activate this product over the phone. <---- good luck with that!

cs3-deactivated3.jpg

Regardless of what you try, it won't reactivate. It's broken. Fubar. So close that mess.

The problem is that your activation file has become corrupt, and it needs to be nuked. That's all it is!


Delete the FLEXnet Activation Files

You need to unhide files in Windows, in order to quickly and easily fix this.
  • In Windows XP, under Windows Explorer ("My Computer", not Internet Explorer!) go to Tools > Folder Options, and then it's on the view tab.

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    .
  • In Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft decided that you were too stupid to have easy access to these options, so it's been hidden. Rather than play "hunt the wabbit" MS-style inside Windows, just install the freeware Classic Shell extension that unhides everything MS hid in Vista and 7. It's available from the trusted freeware site SourceForge.net: http://classicshell.sourceforge.net

After unhiding your files, you'll be able to see the Application Data folders:
  • In Windows XP, go to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\FLEXnet and delete the files.
  • In Vista and Win7, it's under C:\Users\All Users\FLEXnet

cs3-deactivated2.jpg


Properly Re-Activate Adobe CS3, CS4, CS5

Now re-launch your Adobe app, like Photoshop, and you should should be greeted with a proper activation screen, not the useless "repair" version. Feel free to activate online, or using the automated phone method. It will work like new, as if it's the very first time you've installed Adobe CS3, CS4, CS5.

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Done!

I hope that helps save your hours of frustration and wasted time. I sure wish I'd have known all this the first time through! To date, I've not seen this solution posted to any site, including Adobe.com or the Adobe forums. It's rather pathetic that such an easy fix has not been properly documented anywhere by a company that charges thousands of dollars per seat to use their software.

If you need any help using Photoshop, Premiere, Encore, etc, feel free to post questions on our forums. I've been using Adobe software since the early 1990s, and tend to be full of tips and advice -- both for newbies, and for somewhat more seasoned users.

Be sure to click the Thanks button if this has helped.



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  #2  
05-09-2012, 09:05 PM
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This post is reserved for any needed additions.
Thanks. -admin

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  #3  
05-31-2012, 08:56 AM
dqblDFAQ dqblDFAQ is offline
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Works for Adobe Acrobat Professional 8 as well.
Thanks a lot!!
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  #4  
06-03-2012, 01:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dqblDFAQ View Post
Works for Adobe Acrobat Professional 8 as well.
Thanks a lot!!
Ah, very good!
There's a chance this method will work with all of the CS3-CS5 generation programs. (Acrobat 8 was part of the CS3 generation.)

Maybe even CS6? (If somebody out there tries and succeeds, or fails, please share your experience with us.)

Thanks for posting. Much appreciated.

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  #5  
09-24-2012, 03:13 PM
uthoopsfan09 uthoopsfan09 is offline
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Thanks for the post. It has helped me somewhat, but I'm still having some issues with a copy of CS4. Prior to deleting the files in the FlexNet folder, the program was unusable with the error that it had been activated on 2 machines already. This isn't the case though. After deleting the files in the FlexNet folder, I now at least get the option to run it for 30 days. I used exactly the same code that was already in the first time. It still won't activate, but it will run in trial mode.

If I install the same software on a different computer and use the same code, it activates just fine. I don't understand what the issue is. Any advice?
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  #6  
09-25-2012, 02:00 AM
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If I'm not mistaken, Adobe software "marries" the computer. So if it works fine on Computer A, then it can only work on Computer A until it's deactivated. When that happens, Computer B can have it installed and activated. Unlike some software, it's not concurrency of use, but literal "seats". So to have it legally installed on both systems, you'd require two licenses.

The seats method is losing ground to concurrency amongst some software companies, because people are now multi-computer users. More and more of the software I buy can be run anywhere, just so long as it can ping home for a quick auth, to verify it's only running the number of instances it's been licensed for. Of course, that has drawbacks, too -- namely the requirement that a computer be online.

While I don't advocate keygens or cracks, I've had some programs that simply pissed me off so bad that that's what I had to do. Their anti-piracy method was so draconian that legitimate users couldn't get it to behave properly. (In most cases, the company went under, which is yet another strike against the ping-home model. In others, it was defective dongles.) Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Try to deactivate on the machine where it works. If it still causes grief, call Adobe. (Yeah, I know, that's always an aggravating experience, but it's the only choice after all other sensible methods have been exhausted.)

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  #7  
02-02-2014, 06:49 AM
cooldude27uk cooldude27uk is offline
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Thank you!!

I wished I had found this post last week, would have saved me from three installs and uninstalls this week, after upgrading to windows 8.1...... this is a real life saver.......... WORKS 100%.......
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  #8  
02-03-2014, 01:16 AM
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kpmedia kpmedia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cooldude27uk View Post
Thank you!!
I wished I had found this post last week, would have saved me from three installs and uninstalls this week, after upgrading to windows 8.1...... this is a real life saver.......... WORKS 100%.......
Ah, good. It works on Windows 8, too! Which Adobe CS version was it?

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  #9  
02-03-2014, 02:43 AM
cooldude27uk cooldude27uk is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpmedia View Post
Ah, good. It works on Windows 8, too! Which Adobe CS version was it?
Adobe CS3.... and I went from Windows 8 to Windows 8.1, didnt realise it would break the licencing link!
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  #10  
04-15-2017, 06:44 AM
prc.mail prc.mail is offline
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Although this is a very old thread it is worth noting that the procedure still works in to Windows 10 Pro for CS3. You just need to find the FLEXNET folder whichis easy to do using Windows search on the "Users" folder. (Comes up with several - for me it was as simple as renaming the most recently modified one to "zFLEXNET".)
Note that you need to follow the instructions carefully - initially I missed starting the service (which requires FLEXNET to be there) and had to change zFLEXNET back again to FLEXNET and start all over again.
BUT - subject to a few shutdowns and reopens to see whether activation gets broken again - it seems to have worked fine.
Thanks and thanks again. (I've taken the trouble to become a member just so I could say thanks.)
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  #11  
08-28-2017, 05:14 PM
artistadam artistadam is offline
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like prc.mail above me, i signed up just to sing the praise of this solution!! i operate on windows 10 and it was becoming increasingly difficult to find a solution to this problem... adobe customer service is crap, it got me nowhere... but after finally signing up here and viewing the images provided (it's the only way to see the helpful images), i finally got it to work!!

my only suggestions is once you turn on the FLEXnet system operation, RESTART IMMEDIATELY!! after a minute it turns itself off, but if you restart right away, it stays active... i also searched my entire (C: ) drive for FLEXNET, and i found a couple folders with the files i needed to delete...

i am also using the updated version of CS3 that adobe provides to you when you request a new serial number... not sure if that makes a difference, but that's what i did anyways as it was the first option they offered when trying to solve this nightmare of a problem...

all i gotta say is, YES!! DO THIS!! my projects were starting to collect dust and i needed to find a solution... but dammit, i'm back in business!! this may be a very old forum thread, but it does pop up in searches and i just want to encourage those dealing with this headache to give this method a shot ...
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  #12  
08-30-2017, 01:12 PM
blackcat13 blackcat13 is offline
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Thank you so much for this solution! After about six hours of trying to fix this I had almost given up, because the customer service was sadly not very helpful or willing and the instructions on the Adobe Help Site did not quite work as well. So, thanks for sharing this in so much detail!
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