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How to uninstall FlexNet Licensing Service created by InstallShield to add convenience for a program to check for its updates and manage licences. It is being installed by many programs such as Photoshop however the program's developers haven't use it the way it was intended for. This has been a long-time annoyance as it is useless anyway.

The FLEXnet Licensing Service was intended for use in high end "pro" products such as Photoshop and AutoCAD and acts as a replacement for a dongle. Quite why it comes bundled with free software like Acrobat Reader is a mystery. It also provides a means of delivering software updates to end users, however software manufacturers rarely use this feature and instead integrate their own live update services.

The uninstall of the Software Updates Manager is easy since Installshield provide an uninstall tool which you can download on their website (direct link). All you need to do in install the uninstaller (???) and it will be removed from your system.

Uninstall FLEXnet Licensing Service

Uninstall FLEXnet Licensing Service

As for uninstall FLEXnet Licensing Service (FNPLicensingService.exe), this is trickier to remove. You can stop it from running in Task Manager using the kill process button, but the FlexNet service will soon come back when you restart the computer. You can also disable the FlexNet service but it will be re-enabled on next reboot. The trick is to disable "Acrobat Assistant" from running which is the one responsible for re-enabling the FlexNet service. After this you can then uninstall FLEXnet Licensing Service.

You need to use regedit to remove a startup entry. You can either manually navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun and remove the Acrobat assistant key, or you can copy the text below and paste it into a file called removeflexnet.reg. You can then merge the file into the registry by running it.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run]
"Acrobat Assistant 8.0"=-
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\FLEXnet Licensing Service]
"Start"=dword:00000004

You can also use one of the many autorun managers available to disable Acrobat assistant. I personally recommend SysInternals Autoruns which shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them.

Advanced Removal

There are some additional (and optional) steps for totally removing FlexNet. It seems like FlexNet also installs itself into the boot sector of the hard drive (why???!) Removal is easy, just a case of repairing the Master Boot Record, but it can be risky and result in an unbootable system. Follow these steps at your peril - you have been warned!

Windows users can follow this tutorial to restore the MBR

Linux users can follow these steps:

First, make a backup of the MBR and 62 sectors:

sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/tmp/mbr.img bs=512 count=63

Next, we blank it out by overwriting it:

dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda bs=512 count=62 seek=1

Finally we reinstall GRUB

sudo grub-install /dev/sda

Just change sda to the device name of your boot drive.

Once you follow these instructions, the FLEXnet Licensing Service should no longer be bothering you as you will have uninstall FlexNet service once and for all.

8 thoughts on “Uninstall FlexNet Software Updates Manager
  • 11th February 2016 at 12:00 am

    Thank you Tim and willemwunderink - just found recent artifacts of FlexNet activity and downloaded the unintaller suggested by willemwunderink. Worked quick and neat!

    Reply
  • 7th January 2016 at 12:00 am

    I just recently noticed this thing was running and had no idea what it was. This article is probably the most informative as this alleged uninstaller provided is extinct as far as I searched.

    I did begin doing more research and found Adobe explicitly say that it is not used for CS5+ which was my first thought seeing the late-Macromedia. Dig a little deeper and see Acrobat most mentioned... so as I was like alright I don't use Acrobat I will just kill it. Which sorry... Acrobat Pro may be good for some, but a waste of money for me.

    Then you say Acrobat Reader... and it clicks, haha. It's not a mystery as to why a company with well-known high end software and common file formats / standards, would package something like this where you really don't expect.

    Either way... whether it is with just the Acrobat Reader or Acrobat Pro, too, I think I will be finding a new way to open PDF files!

    Anyways, thank you for a well-written article with the location of the registry keys... that I am sure will need manual deletion. Even if you did write this 6 years ago, haha.

    Reply
  • Steve
    9th August 2014 at 12:00 am

    Uninstall is no longer available.

    Reply
  • Steve
    1st April 2014 at 12:00 am

    I've been trying to find how to uninstall this since Secunia flagged it as a risk and unsupported. Thank you for providing the uninstall.

    Reply
  • 24th May 2013 at 12:00 am

    Great resources on your site. These instructions worked perfectly first time. Keep up the good work!

    T

    Reply
  • 8th November 2010 at 12:00 am

    "the program’s developers haven’t use it the way it was intended for" -- Can you elaborate? How has it been used, and why is it annoying?

    Reply
    • 12th March 2011 at 12:00 am

      FlexNet uses excessive amounts of CPU time, and it pops up all the time. But most of all, if is deceptive, it is not listed in Add/Remove Programs, like all the other legitimate programs on your PC. There is no Start menu item for it. And when you double click on the icon by the clock, there is no option to remove it. In other words it acts just like Malware, and that my friend is what it is.

      These instructions listed here for removing it are the best I have seen so far on the Internet.

      Good job Tim!!

      Reply

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