Software Is Unlicensed or in Evaluation Mode Activating from NI VLM or FlexNET Server

Updated Nov 21, 2023

Reported In


  • Volume License Manager
  • NI License Manager

Issue Details

  • When I try to license my software by connecting to a volume license server, my software appears as unlicensed in NI License Manager. When I launch my software, it opens in evaluation mode.
  • I am unable to activate my software using a volume licensing server.
  • I can connect to the license server but when I open up my software a pop up message is saying This software license has expired however under the Network Licenses tab the relevant software are green. 


This issue may occur by different possible causes which are covered in the following article with their respective troubleshooting steps.

Incompatible License File Version

Always use the most recent license file to make sure you have access to the newest versions of the software. A license file can be outdated if you have upgraded your software and NI VLM or FlexNET Publisher are still using an older version of the license file.

In the case of NI VLM, the software administrator should:
  1. Ensure that the licenses displayed in the Licenses view in License Manager are up to date and match the software version. The license file currently used by NI VLM can be found in the following file path: C:\ProgramData\National Instruments\Volume License Manager\nivlm.lic.
For example, if LabVIEW is licensed up to 2017 SP1 but LabVIEW Application Builder is only licensed up to 2017, Application Builder will not work in LabVIEW 2017 SP1.
  1. If the license file is not up to date, send an email to to request an upgraded license file. Include the following information: administrator name, administrator email, company name, and Service ID.
  2. (Recommended) Create a backup  of the current server.
  3. Install the upgraded license file in NI VLM.
  4. Click Apply Changes.
  5. Restart the license server.
In the case of FlexNET Publisher, the administrator should: 
  1. Contact NI technical support with your current NI License File to check up on what version you have access to. 
  2. If your current license file is not up to date, send an email to to request an upgraded license file. Include the following information: administrator name, administrator email, company name, and Service ID.
  3. Install the upgraded license file in your FlexNET Publisher server. 
  4. Restart the license server. 
If you are unsure about your eligibility to activate newer software versions, contact NI for clarification. 

Incompatible NI VLM or FlexNET Publisher Version

An issue may occur if the NI License Manager is not compatible with either NI VLM or with FlexNET Publisher. To review compatibility, please check the readme file for your corresponding NI License Manager version to check what version of either FlexNET or NI VLM is supported.   

The software administrator should:
  1. Check what NI VLM or FlexNET Publisher and NI License Manager version the license server is running.
  2. If the NI VLM version is incompatible, upgrade it to a newer VLM version. If your software administrator is running the FlexLM/FlexNet Publisher, they will need to upgrade the vendor to a newer FlexNET daemon version.

Note: All the latest versions of NI VLM and FlexNET Publisher are compatible with all previous versions of NI License Manager. Upgrading VLM will not affect clients with older versions of NI License Manager. 

License Server is Down

The software administrator should:
  1. Check that the server computer is on and the license server is still running in NI VLM or FlexNET Publisher.
  2. If the server is hosted on NI VLM: 
    1. If the license server is stopped, navigate to Tools»Start Volume License Server. If you experience issues, refer to Unable to Start License Server When Using NI VLM for more steps.
  3. If the server is hosted on FlexNET Publisher:​​​​​​
    1. Open LMTOOLS»Start/Stop/Reread and click on Start Server.

Firewall on Server Side  Blocking Client-Server Communication

Ensure the firewall on the server is not blocking the specified ports (default is 27000 and 4637).

The software administrator should:
  1. (Optional) Temporarily disable the firewall for testing.
  2. Configure the firewall to allow incoming connections on the specified ports.

Incorrect Permissions

In the case the software administrator is using NI VLM:  In the case the software administrator is using FlexNET Publisher:
  • The software administrator should ensure that the client has the correct permissions assigned on the corresponding options file. If not, please review how to construct the options file to add the permissions. 

Client Not Connecting to Server

The client should:
Note: If your volume license server is running on a port other than 27000, ensure that the port number is included with the server name (server:<port number>).
  • Remove the server information to force NI License Manager to look at local licenses. Then, add the server and port information again.
  1. Click on the options menu in the top left-hand corner of the NI License Manager window.
  2. Select Manage Volume License Servers.
  3. Remove/delete the server name or address of your volume license server and click OK.
  4. Click the Refresh button at the top of the screen, then close and re-start NI License Manager.
  5. In the Network Licenses tab, you should now see No volume license servers configured.
  6. Select Manage volume license servers and re-add your license server's name or address and click OK.
  7. NI License Manager should re-initialize and pull the licenses from the server.

Refer to Unable to Communicate With License Server Error in NI VLM for additional steps.


Check Debug Log

If any of these steps failed and the server is being hosted on NI VLM, the software administrator should:
  • Check the NI VLM debug log. The log will confirm if the client attempted to check out a license and whether the attempt was successful.
If the server is being hosted on FlexNET Publisher: 
If the debug log shows the client failing to check out a license, confirm the following:  

Concurrent Unmanaged Licenses

If you are using concurrent unmanaged Licenses, the activation status under Network Licenses remains default grey even If you have access to them. This is a purely cosmetic issue and should not prohibit your access to the software. For more information, refer to Unable to Activate Software Using Concurrent Unmanaged Network Licenses

Corrupted options file

In some rare cases, there may be a problem with the options file.
If you are a software administrator please try to copy across the nilm.opt file on the license server from C:\ProgramData\National Instruments\Volume License Manager to the location of your original license file (where it was originally imported from) then restart NI License Manager on the client.