What Is Software Metering?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2019
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Software metering is a type of computer metering system that can mean several different things at once. The most common type of software metering is when a company meters the amount of software licenses in use and ensures that the number of licenses used is not abused. Other versions of this metering include monitoring and prohibiting use of programs during certain times, or only allowing a specific number of users access to the program at once. Some programs also force users to pay against the time a program is used, and this time must be adequately metered. Common users typically do not run into problems or have to actively participate with software metering, but larger companies may need to meter program usage.

The most common form of software metering is done by the software creator to monitor the amount of active licenses. When someone buys or downloads a program, that software comes with a license, even if the program is freeware. This license is like a contract that outlines terms of use and also ensures the user is using a legal version of the program. Some programs come with multiple licenses, allowing the user to install the program on multiple computers. The software company must monitor and update these licenses if program terms change, and must ensure the number of licenses does not go beyond the specified maximum according to the software’s terms.


System administrators can use software metering to check all computers active during business hours to ensure that all programs currently running are allowed according to protocol and that the user is being productive. This type of monitoring allows the administrator to check if prohibited programs, such as games, are being used by any computer. The administrator also can go into a specific computer and keep it from launching prohibited programs until a certain time, such as after business hours.

Some programs can only be used during certain periods or by a certain number of users at once. Going outside the time or number of users can go against the software license for high-level or enterprise-level programs, making the usage illegal. System administrators use software monitoring to ensure no one is going outside these terms, and they normally prohibit usage outside of these terms by limiting the amount of users or making the software unable to launch during prohibited hours.

There are some programs that must be paid for according to how long the program has been used. In this schema, the system administrator and the software distributor will typically invoke software monitoring to check the amount of usage. This keeps the software legal and also ensures the distributor gets paid correctly according to how long the program is used.


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