How-To Geek

Extend Windows Vista Trial to 120 Days

Windows Vista is the first windows operating system to let you use a trial version for 30 days before buying. It’s a really great move for Microsoft, especially in light of how little benefit you get from upgrading to Vista in the first place. There’s a soon to be well known trick that can extend the trial period up to 120 days.

If you right-click on the computer icon on the start menu, you’ll see the basic system information window, and you’ll also see the amount of days you have left to activate:

Looks like I only have 12 days left… or do I?

If you are not locked out of your computer
Open up an administrative mode command prompt by typing in cmd into the start menu search box, and then hit the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Enter to launch in administrative mode.

Now run this command from the prompt:

slmgr -rearm

It will take a little while, but eventually a dialog will pop up telling you to reboot. Do so, and you’ll see that the activation period has been reset to 30 days.

Note that if you want to get a full 120 days out of this tip that you need to use this command on day 29 or 30 of your trial mode. You can only use this command 3 times before Microsoft smacks you down.

If you are already locked out (Reduced Functionality Mode)

You can still reactivate Vista if you have more resets left. If you’ve already used up all 3, then you are out of luck, but if not, you can follow these steps to unlock your computer again.

  • First, Open up Internet Explorer, and type C:\ into the address bar. You’ll be prompted for UAC.
  • Now type in C:\Windows\System32\ into the address bar, and find the cmd.exe executable. Right-click it and choose “Run as Administrator”.
  • Now use the same method as above (slmgr -rearm).
  • You should see the message saying that the computer is rearmed. You’ll probably want to restart the computer at this point.

Getting a Trial Copy of Windows Vista

Windows Vista is the first Microsoft operating system to let you have a trial period. One of the questions that I get asked constantly is “Where do I get a copy of Vista?”. This answer is less obvious.

If you have an MSDN license, you can download it from there and run it in trial mode. Most people don’t have MSDN, however.

If you know somebody that has a copy of Vista, you can borrow the CD and use it to install in trial mode. As long as you aren’t trying to use their serial number, there shouldn’t be a problem with this.

There are various “other” ways to get a copy of the Vista CD. If you don’t know what I mean, you should ask the person that everybody knows has a huge collection of downloaded content. I suspect they can hook you up, but remember it’s just a trial copy. I don’t advocate piracy.

Alternatively, you could buy a copy.

Addressing the 1 Year Activation Patch

There’s been a debate about a 1 year activation hack that can allow you to run Windows Vista for up to 1 year without activating. As far as I can tell, this is completely bogus, and shouldn’t even be attempted. Honestly, it’s best to just buy a new computer with Vista already installed.

Addressing the “TimerStop” hack
There is a hack that will allow you to run Windows Vista forever without registering. This hack is obviously illegal, unsupported by Microsoft, and likely to break with future patches to Vista. I have verified that this works with some friends. Although I have not personally used it, I do not believe it should be used, and I would advise strongly against doing so.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/25/07

Comments (66)

  1. Arun Ranjan

    i have not used this operatin system but by reading its features and looks i think i is one of the best operating system now.

  2. Vejay


    Please change ur mind!!. I dont think so, since im researching on Vista issues, As Vista Research Analyst..

    I better stick to XP

  3. navas


  4. RockerPA

    where can i download the 30 day trial so i can try it?

  5. franie

    I have used the operating system and so far it is wonderful. My students and most of my clients that I speak to enjoy the operating system and have said nice things about ease of use and technical support.

    The biggest complain is that the operating system seems to be restrictive and intrusive. I really have to concur with the intrusiveness.

    Although as a professional it is not as bad as I have heard other people describe there personal experiences. For example the above trick is a very nice offering from Microsoft and in a way it balances out some of the talk in reference to intrusiveness and restrictive nature of the operating system. It is very unlikely that software company will give a client on a trial 120 days to familiarize themselves with the software.


  6. Window$ Vi$ta

    Or just use the Windows Vista timerstop… that way it will always appear as ’30 day(s) to activate’, and will never count down!

    But that would be wrong to do to M$, (Bill Gates being the philanthropist he is), wouldn’t it now?

  7. The Geek

    Yes, the timerstop crack does work, but since it’s not legal, I’m not going to write about it or suggest it.

    There will always be a crack for every software, it’s just a question of whether you want to run illegal software or not. Personally, I don’t choose to.

  8. Chris Delany

    What exactly is the advantage to vista over XP that is worth spending a fair amount of money? From what I have heard, it is not compatible with a lot of programs such as EA BF2, Adobe Photoshop upgrades etc & other online games (though I am sure a patch will be released down the road). I just do not hear of significant “features” other than “I am keeping up with the jones’s”) over XP…esp XP64!

  9. Chris Delany

    BTW- I searched for a trial version of Vista & the site says they are no longer accepting requests to D/L this “offer.” Typical Microsoft BS.!

  10. shann

    hai i want windows vista.

  11. Tony

    yes but it says not enough quota

  12. Stev-er-eno

    HHHMMMM paradox crack? did I just say that? nah! If you know enough about the software i’m sure you could use a cracked copy “fully activated” and not get caught!! ;)

  13. Nick

    “Vista Research Analyst”?

    That’s a good one. Got more jokes?

  14. billy

    this is cool and I like it.

  15. juan

    thanks alot for this

  16. juan

    good job guys

  17. nick

    Nice post, never knew that you could unlock a version of windows vista in Reduced Functionality mode with anything other than buying it…. Doesn’t really affect me anyway as I use GNU/linux a 100% free OS

  18. billy

    this is some good work you are doing keep it up

  19. claire

    what website/or how can i download vista without having to purchase. i have a genuine key thats mine but did not get disc with laptop thats got vista. i would like to down load and install on my pc .

  20. dominator

    ok ok ok ok :)

  21. Alan

    The Windows XP allows you to install into another PC 4 months after the 1st installation but not the case for Vista, does Vista even allows that? Please advise…..

  22. Mark Guy

    While you’re at the top of your game, how about a permanent extension for xp so I don’t have to mess with vista at all?

  23. Marlee

    Did the Trial, now my system will not restore. Locked me out and cannot load my old version of xp back. Any suggestions. Talk about Monopoly, I can either buy the upgrade or my computer will keep shutting down on me. Don’t worry too much about Bill G$ates, I think he is just fine.

  24. Josh

    To be honest it’s not really ‘Vista not being compatible with x’ it’s ‘x not being compatible with Vista’. As far as WDDM drivers and software compatibility goes Vista didn’t change for around a year during its Beta/CTP/RTM releases.

  25. john l

    will vista alow the use of spyware doctor wit antivirus to run

  26. james.m.k

    > There are various “other” ways to get a copy of the Vista CD. If you don’t know what I mean,
    > you should ask the person that everybody knows has a huge collection of downloaded content.
    > I suspect they can hook you up.

    I think you should remove, or at least reword, this paragraph. It appears to promote piracy and is lible to attract the ire (and possibly the lawyers) of Micro$oft.

  27. The Geek

    I changed the paragraph to make that more clear… The section is concerning getting a copy of the Trial cd, which doesn’t mean you can use it past the trial period.

    Microsoft put the trial mode in there for a reason, and that reason is that they don’t really care if you try it out… in fact they are probably happy when people do.

    Thanks for the note, though.

  28. Dawn

    I tried what slmgr -rearm but I get a msg saying “Not enough quota is available to process this command”. Is there a way around that?

  29. Leonard S. Del Rosario II

    My 30 day trial (of Vista Home Basic) already expired. Is it possible to request for another 30 day or 60 day trial. Hope you can help me on this. Thanks.

  30. Ben

    The Timerlock is just a waste of time now I’m locked out of vista.

  31. KAY

    how do i get a recovery for my hp laptop since i have formated the recoveary partition and the recoveary dvd i created is damaged

  32. Guinn

    Kay, I hate to tell you this but I’m 90% sure you’ll call HP for recovery disk, since you can only make them once. They’ll charge about $50.00 for the disk. Sorry.

  33. big bubba

    i heard that it is possible to install vista trial. and after the 30 day trial then reinstall xp or an older version of windows. you must however do a full format when reinstalling xp. this will erase all data of vista. make sure that you have all of the files and settings backed up. on disks. then reinstall the trial. and repeat the process. over and over and over…….
    it may take a while, but think about it. 12 days out of every year?….. thats it….. until the next operating system comes out

    ****i just heard this i have not tried it.****my computer is not compatible***


    Hey guys,
    i have Vista Home Premium and have been using it since December 30 but it suddenly stopped working and hasn’t let me re-install it. I had it on as a dual-boot with XP, could that be the problem?

  35. Chris Ben

    how to get the trial version of windows Vista & Xp? pls advise…. coz there is no link to get it…

  36. Vista WHO?

    Vista does suck for locking us all out. For those that are not computer savy and have to deal with the RFM lock out, this can be a problem. You buy a computer thinking that it will work normally only to find out that you have to purchase software. So I say…hurray to all of those hack tricks outthere available to us!!

  37. ashkan

    go to regedit and search for the key : HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\WindowsNT\CurrentVersion\SL .

    Than on the right hand you see SkipRearm. change the SkipRearm value to 1.

    if you have done that you can use slmgr -rearm 8 more times .

    so if you done the first time 3 times slmgr -rearm than you have 120 days .
    than 8 more times is 240. 120 days + 240 days = 1 year .

  38. answer plz

    hey my comp is locked im doin it but after i typed in slmgr -rearm do i close cmd? plz say

  39. Sinan

    So, once you use up all three “-rearm” tries, Windows tells you that it is pretty much gone until you restore Vista again. Is this true?

  40. kenzo

    were can you download the 30-days trial?

  41. laotong

    – My trial version of Vista left 1 day for activate, so sad…
    – As per instruction given, I manage to extend to 30 days just before 12 midnight, lucky …. happy ….thanks thanks thanks
    – Now, I have another 30 days to consider XP or Vista.
    – “slmgr -rearm” can use more than 3 time? I already change the regedit, of cause I hope I can use for 8 time. :b

  42. Roma

    ok… so i bought this coumputer with vista installed but after a while it crashed and wiped out my hard drive. so i bought a new one and had windows xp put in… is there any wa i can go back to vista because i still have my code on the side of my computer?

  43. jd2066

    @Roma: Yes, you can go back to Windows Vista.
    If you have a recovery disc then you put it in and follow the instructions to restore it.
    If you have a normal Windows Vista install disc then you enter that code in the setup and finish the setup. The old install should be moved to a Windows.old folder unless you decide to format the partition in which case all the data on the partition will be lost.
    Note: Using the recovery disc will format the partition causing loss of all data on the drive so you have any data you want to keep you should back it up to a disc.

  44. bountygiver

    30*(3+8)=330 days

    if u reformat once a year, this is enough.

    server 2008 even better, they have 60days instead of 30, that means u get 2 yrs after changing registry

  45. frank

    how come my “slmgr -rearm” only gives me 15 days?

  46. Chris

    If you use an application like Ghost or Acronis to make an image of your drive after installation of all your standard apps etc you could quickly reinstall the O/S when you run out of time and do it all again :o

    Anyway I have a legitimate version of Vista Ultimate as it was cheap but nice trick anyway

  47. clueless_user

    When I go to cmd.exe, it does not allow me to right click and choose to “run as admin.”. How do I reach the regedit to put in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\WINDOWSNT\CURRENTVERSION\SL ???

    My computer says Error: 0xC004F025 access denied: the requested action requires elevated priviliges.

    Also, The maximum allowed number of re -arms has been exceeded. You must re-install the OS before trying to re -arm again.

    Please help me…as if I was a 4th grader. I’m clueless about these things. Thanx

  48. clueless_user

    Oh, I forgot to ask how do I re install the OS, too? Thanx

  49. carl

    thinking about the vista trial version, now running xp 8. when reading about the switch over ,if you get locked out. what do the letters UAC mean?

  50. Dale

    I am currently running window’s 98 converting to xp is there anyone have a copy of vista they wanna sell?

  51. Mustafa Fakrul Alam

    i have installed trial version of vista home basic in my laptop from hp.i would like to modify my partion and also like to installed xp in parallal with can i do it pls suggest.

  52. vasanth

    any one know? how to hack a software which runs only 5 times and expire.

  53. sidiiq

    Saved my life :)))). I was about to give up and format my computer. Thanks

  54. sudhansh

    ur instruction is very bad to use, i cant us it properly, iam very disappoint.

  55. Chetanya

    Hi !! I need a copy of windows vista trial .
    can anyone post a link from where i can download ?
    help appriciated

  56. khaled

    will vista alow the use of spyware doctor wit antivirus to run

  57. loveyou


  58. sumit

    thanx alot

  59. Bharat

    Hey is there any way to extend xp sp2. please reply

  60. Samuel

    I think I am out of luck; I have Google Chrome installed on my trial. Chrome doesn’t allow me to open the file system to get to CMD. So… I’m stuck

  61. Sakshi

    like it

  62. Akhiyar Ahmad

    ya,i like it

  63. Kevin Michael Meetin

    I just love Vista Business. I had it for a while. I upgraded from XP, (actually I did a clean install). All my files from XP were still there in a folder called windows.old. You just have to look in the C: drive under users.

    The only difference I see is security. Vista is a hell of a lot more than XP. With its UAC. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do, you’ll never go back to XP again. I’ll be writing again soon, so for now by

  64. Kevin Michael Meetin

    VASANTH. Yes, get Date Cracker 2000. It lets you bypass the time restriction. Experiment with it.

  65. metalrckr24

    if you’re locked out of the computer and have no more rearms left.
    you can always look for the taskmanager.exe located on your windows folder..
    ..then start the program, look for explorer.exe in the processes list, end it.. then run explorer.exe again.
    you will now see your desktop and use your computer but only for a limited time of 2 hours (estimated). –do not close the window that popped out during the start up where you were asked for an option to avail your windows vista’s licensing. :)

  66. metalrckr24

    well yeah, of course you’ll need to choose the option where you can open a browser,
    i think its the second option.
    then you’ll just type “c:\windows” on the address field like you did above ^_^

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