Using trial versions multiple times for testing, is it ethical/ moral?

Discussion in 'other software & services' started by aigle, Aug 24, 2007.

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  1. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Ok, I want to discuss this issue since many day but was just lazy to post this thread.
    Until now my routine is that I download trial versions of security software and play with them a bit, mainly looking for features, testing them against different malware etc.Mostly these traial versions never complete their trial duration on my PC, they just go after a few days or mostly after few hours.

    Next time when I need to retest a security software( same version or a newer version of it), I just reinstall it again. This re-install works if my previous install/ uninstall was within the trial duration( usually 2-4 weeks). If my last instal is one month old, ofcourse I can,t try it again( even for a few hours), so in that case I reload a new image of my system and retry the software( again usually for few hours or even less). Mostly I reload a new image of my system within a month( to get rid of left overs of multiple software uninstalls and to get a clean fast system), so whenever I install a trial version, usually I have no problems in installing it even if I had tried it again( because ususally I am having a newly restored image already every month or so).

    I don,t install these trail versions to use. My actual security set up that I use to secure my system mainly consists of freeware and it remains almost same/ static all the time. I just try these software, mainly for few hours or even less, against different malware and then sometimes post my findings here, sometimes post it to software vendors and sometimes just keep them upto me. Probably by doing so I don,t breach EULA of any trial versions( I don,t use these trials to actually secure my system though I do get indirectly the knowledge that is used to secure my system).

    Trialware vendors get benefit sometimes when I post my results/ suggestions to them that might be useful to improve those software.

    On the other side they get a potential disadvantage that I share their software,s features with competitive software vendors and competitive softwares sometimes implement new features if they like to do so.
    Also they get a potential disadvantage that sometimes the weakness of their software against malware are totally exposed( contrary to their big claims).

    Me and some peoples at forums might get adavantage as they can know the weakness of these software against actual malware( contrary to their big claims). They can also know about conflicts, system instability and otehr such issues related to these software.

    As far as use of trial verions is concerned, I am almost sure that it,s Ok to look for their weakness, their conflicts, testing them against real malware, and even to have ideas for new features for competitive products etc as this probably does not breach their EULA. Main question which I want to ask is that is it ethical/ moral to use trial versions multiple times on fresh image restores or not( just for testing, not to secure my system)?

    What do u think about this? What is ur practice?
    Also I am especially interested to know the views of security software vendors( many of them visist these forums). What they think about this?

    Thanks
     
  2. Franklin

    Franklin Registered Member

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    Well to be honest Aigle I don't think I've ever read a eula the whole way through for any install.

    If I want to retest and it reinstalls with no probs then I just use it.

    Unethical and or lazy?

    Probably but I think I may be in the majority.

    Have tested and retested quite a few security apps with my mainstays being Sandboxie and Returnil which don't pose a prob.
     
  3. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Well it is obvious we have tools that allow us to re use trials beyond their intended lilfe.

    But the whole point of trials is for you to try it see if it runs, if it does what you want, etc. Then if you like it and can use it you buy it, if not the trial expires.

    So yes with imaging etc, you can do what you want. Is it legal, I don't know. Is it ethical and moral, I'd say no.

    My general practice is get a trial, and try it. If I like it and can use it, I buy it. First I think it's the right thing, and 2nd, it supports vendors and helps them produce better software.

    Pete
     
  4. ronjor

    ronjor Global Moderator

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    Pay for your software or we will all be saddled with activation. :D

    Shareware is based on honesty. Honest users pay for their software.
     
  5. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Hi Peter and Ronjor!

    I totally agree with you. But how can u buy all these software just for testing.

    I am originally from a country where no body even has the actual idea of what is pirated software or what is not? Also most of people there can,t even afford the software price in dollars( One Dollar= 60 Pakistani Rupees). Incomes of people are far less ac compraed to USA and Europe and u will not find cheeper prices for software in these areas.

    I personally use only legit software( paid or free). Trials I mentioned were used for a few hours play only. Anyway I need to change all this routine and I will sure miss this interesting experience as I can,t buy msot of these software for sure.
     
  6. ronjor

    ronjor Global Moderator

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    Perhaps some software vendors will weigh in on this thread with comments.

    I understand what you are saying aigle and it's a difficult situation for someone that likes to test software.

    Maybe you could sign up for beta testing with different vendors.
     
  7. Franklin

    Franklin Registered Member

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    Let's take for instance that I tried out Shadow Defender for a couple hours yesterday.

    There are couple of matters that I am waiting to be resolved in regards to further tests that are beyond my capabilites and whether this software is legit.

    If these factors are resolved after 30 days of my initial tests should I buy the software in order to evaluate further?
     
  8. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Ya, I really want their views.
    Ya, good choice but it has its own ethical issues. Playing with security software is quite different from real beta testing and I don,t like to deceive the vendors( getting the software in the name of beta testing while I know I am not testing it in reality. Beta testing is very hard and takes a lot of time. So far only software I can claim that I have beta tested is GesWall.
     
  9. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    That seems a genuine problem too!
     
  10. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    It's a matter of personal ethic's. I installed Shadowdefender to see if it runs. I may FDISR it away, and then reinstall to take another look. But I do this more so I can remove it and have it off unless I really want it. Probably I will in a couple of days either decide I don't want it now, in which case it's gone. If I think I can use it, I buy it.

    I understand that people some times can't afford software. But if they can't a coat they want, would stealing it be okay. I view software the same way.

    Just me.
     
  11. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Ur thinking seems right Peter!
     
  12. the Tester

    the Tester Registered Member

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    In general I think it's wrong.
    But if you are continuosly testing various programs I can see what you mean.
    It would be interesting to hear what developers think.
    Do they have a problem with someone downloading and testing a trial version for a day or so every xx months?
     
  13. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Ya, i am too much interested in it.
    I hope for some of them to see this thread and join it.
     
  14. lucas1985

    lucas1985 Retired Moderator

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    Same here (Argentina)
    People think of software as a "obvious gift" if they buy a PC.
    I would also be interested in developers' opinions about the use of trials in testing.
     
  15. innerpeace

    innerpeace Registered Member

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    I've wondered about this myself because I would like to eventually test programs to give input and help others. It would also be neat to try new things. Another thing to consider and ask yourself is this: 'are you doing more good than bad'? I personally think you do more good than bad Aigle and I value your input and help as well as the others here at Wilders and other forums. A lot of this input would not exist without those testing the programs.

    Whenever a program is tested and well thought of, others will find it through a search and buy a license. These others may not even be a Wilders member, but just someone using Google for example. Whenever a test has a negative review, then you may have saved a few of us from installing a damaging or rogue program.

    To me, the bottom line is testing is fine as long as it benefits someone. Without testing, there would be no improvements and the bad guys win. The unethical people who keep using a trial over and over to keep from paying for the real-time benefits are the ones that are immoral. That's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

    innerpeace
     
  16. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    Sorry, but that is rationalization. Okay, if you use a beta version and provide some feedback thats fine. But if you are using program A and fudging with it to "test" program B, I don't buy the argument. How would you feel about it if you had put a lot of your time and effort into program A. Think you'd buy the argument then.

    Kind of like saying "gee I only took the coat to help a little child."
     
  17. screamer

    screamer Registered Member

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    What I think we're looking at here is an issue of semantics. Test vs. Use
    In testing a software, one is determining whether or not it works well on his/her system. Testing it's strengths & weaknesses and manufacturers claims. Usually when someone "tests" software they report it to someone, be it on a forum, developer or just a colleague. They share their results. Whether its installed several times, within the trial period, I'd say fine, knock yourself out. Installing after the trial is a grey area. But then again, if it's for "testing"...??

    Installing & "using" software (even trial versions) to reap the benefits of it are immoral and dishonest.

    ...screamer
     
  18. n8chavez

    n8chavez Registered Member

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    But isn't the point of testing to determine what we ike and what we don't like. If that is true, as I suspect it to be, that testing software is a picky person's way of saying they are trialing software, correct? I have used provided beta keys on many different software solutions for the sole purpose of testing it; that way I can do so for longer that 30 days. If that software meets my expectations I usually buy it. Is using a beta key, as opposed to a trial version, unethical? No, I don't think so. One must measure intent in order to judge.
     
  19. innerpeace

    innerpeace Registered Member

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    I'm sorry, but I can only see good coming from what is being done. Trust me, I'm a huge pessimist and I see a good outcome. I think it helps users, developers and forces improvements. It also increases knowledge which I think is valuable. Not all of us can be beta testers, but the majority can use and learn from 'trials'. We are talking about trials and we have to start somewhere :)

    Are the developers losing any money from this testing? Could they stand to gain from it? I think so for those developers willing to listen and adapt. I also wonder how many people have bought program X because of a 'testers' comments. How many programs improved or added features to protect the masses from malware because of a 'tester' trialing the software? In the end it is up to those who write the licenses to the programs. Do they think it is right or wrong? I'm certainly listening.

    As for me, I live well below the poverty level and my money (when I have it) will certainly go the the generous companies that provide free real-time versions that I have used and those that don't gripe about trials and or positive or negative feedback they receive via support or forums from the trials. For now, I'm using software licenses I won and I'm saving for hardware to make backups so I can 'trial' or beta test to help those generous companies with vision so I can give back.

    Thanks for listening,
    innerpeace
     
  20. tradetime

    tradetime Registered Member

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    Personally I think there's a little scale issue to consider here, the worlds a big place, somewhere near 6 billion, I don't think a handful of you guys testing and retesting products is gonna cut any ice, besides, there is already an in built trade off, people like you testing products need to tell someone, usually lots of someones, from a company perspective, that's called free advertising, maybe you give the company some feedback, even better. All in all I see it as insignificant, now if you are using imaging software in some way to live on free trial periods, that obviously is a different issue, but then this discussion seems to be discussing the two issues like they were one and the same.
     
  21. djg05

    djg05 Registered Member

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    I would imagine that only a small number take the trouble to keep re-testing s/w. From the producers point of view surely the more publicity they get the better since it will be passed on by word of mouth, and if it gets slated then they have the opportunity to improve it.

    Although I do try out s/w I have to manage my budget and generally look at the price first and if it is too much I do not bother testing it so as I am not tempted.
     
  22. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    If you test something, uninstall it and reinstall later to retest, to see if it meets a need, no issue. Hopefully if there is something you don't like you will report it to the developer to help them.

    But it's the rational, I will keep installing a trial of A to test B. That is plainly using product A, sorry. And the argument it's helping someone is just rationalizing using A without paying for it. Testing B does nothing at all to help A. It's a slippery slope, between this and suddenly trying to find a way to use A full time.

    Beware that old adage, "What goes around comes around."
     
  23. aigle

    aigle Registered Member

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    Until now my routine was like this. Whenever I will read about an interesting malware that bypassed a security application, I will get this malware somehow. Install a trial version of security application that I want to test( say a HIPS). Go into ShadowMode or some other instant recovery application. Run the malware and see how the security software/ HIPS behaves. Will try other security software/ HIPS with same malware to compare them. Come out of ShadowMode, uninstall the trial versions and post my results here if needed.

    Now I will change it for sure( by God,s will). I might not stop testing but only free software/ HIPS/ SandBoxes etc to test!! There are plenty of them. For paid ones, I will have to wait for the results from other memebers who already owe the licences for them.
     
  24. NGRhodes

    NGRhodes Registered Member

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    Well said :)
     
  25. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

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    I tip my hat to you Aigle. I have plenty of dusty licenses for stuff I've bought and no longer have. Biggest shortage I have is time, but I'll help you as I can.

    Pete
     
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