Invalid product key or serial number error during software activation

Encountering errors when entering your product key or serial number can be frustrating. This guide will help you understand the common causes of such errors and provide solutions to ensure a smooth activation process.


  Table of Contents

Differentiating between serial number and product key

Errors encountered in the software

Common causes and solutions

Using the incorrect key

Mismatched software version

Additional support


Differentiating between product key and serial number

It's crucial to understand that serial numbers and product keys are distinct and not interchangeable.

For a comprehensive explanation of the differences, please refer to Identify and locate your serial number or product key.

Errors encountered in the software

The following errors may been seen in the software when an incorrect product key or serial number are entered:

  1. “The product key entered is not valid. Please check that the full product key has been entered correctly.”
  2. "Invalid serial number. Please re-enter serial number"
  3. "An incorrect product key was entered."

Common Causes and Solutions

There are two primary causes that can trigger the above error messages. Please read the following information to diagnose your specific issue, and to find solutions to each issue.

Using the Incorrect Key


  1. The most common cause of an invalid product key or serial number error is an entry error or use of the wrong key. Serial number and product key licenses are not interchangeable.
  2. If you ever received a custom license from us, this requires a new product key to be generated and the wrong one may be saved in your records.  Sign in to your account to find your latest license information.
  3. Previous versions of the software displayed both the product key and activation ID in the License Information dialog.  The activation ID was removed from the dialog because it was easy to confuse with a product key.


Ensure you're entering the correct product key or serial number, without any typos. For further information, please reference Identify and locate your serial number or product key, which explains the difference between serial numbers and product keys, gives directions to locate your serial number and product keys, and also helps you to find the full version information of which version of software you have installed on your machine.

Note: Earlier software versions displayed both the product key and activation ID, which could be confusing. Always refer to your account for the latest and accurate information.

Mismatched Software Version

Issue: Serial number licenses are specific to software versions. For instance, a Surfer 12 serial number won't activate Surfer 11 and vice versa. Some software versions, like Grapher 12, Surfer 13, and Strater 5, have distinct product key and serial number versions.


If you have a product key, you will need to have a product key version of the software installed.  Product key versions include:

  • Grapher 12.4.39, 12.4.46, 12.5.77, 12.5.87, 12.6.121, and 12.7.126
  • Surfer 13.6.86 and 13.6.92
  • Strater 5.5.63 and all newer versions

If you have a serial number, you will need to have a serial number of the software installed.  Serial number versions include:

  • Grapher 12.7.855, 12.6.851, 12.5.811, 12.4.753, and all earlier versions
  • Surfer 13.6.618 and all earlier versions
  • Strater 5.4.948 and all earlier versions

All Strater 4 and earlier, Surfer 12 and earlier, and Grapher 11 and earlier versions were sold as only serial numbers.  In addition, all Voxler, Didger, and MapViewer licenses are serial numbers.

Additional Support

Golden Software is dedicated to ensuring a hassle-free experience with our products. If you continue to face issues or need further clarification on product keys and serial numbers, please reach out to our dedicated Customer Success Team. We're here to ensure you have a seamless experience with Golden Software's licensing tools.


Updated August 2023

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