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What is a Software Warranty?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

A software warranty is a document, often a digital document provided as a file with a piece of software, which indicates any rights a user may have to replace a piece of software if it is damaged or faulty. This type of warranty may involve the hardware on which the software was sold, such as a physical disc, or only the actual software itself. The latter type of warranty is more likely to be found with software available as a download, and so is not sold as a piece of physical media. A software warranty may provide fairly extensive means of replacement for a piece of software or limited replacement options depending on the preferences of the software developer.

The software warranty provided with a piece of computer software will typically accompany the end user license agreement (EULA) and other legal documentation for the program. These documents can be quite lengthy and most software users tend to skip reading them while installing the software, though this can lead to issues later if a user wishes to dispute part of the warranty or EULA. The protections and offers provided by a software warranty can vary a great deal, and may in part depend on the usage rights provided by the EULA and similar agreements.

Software warranties for a computer program might be provided in written form or on a file on the installation disk.
Software warranties for a computer program might be provided in written form or on a file on the installation disk.

A software warranty for a program that is offered as a commercial product that can be purchased as a piece of hard media, such as on a disc, will typically indicate any possibilities for replacement of the disc if damaged or corrupted. This offer can indicate that the disc itself may be replaced, or merely that a user can download the software again without extra charge in case of file corruption. There can also be a time limit on the replacement offered by a software warranty, such as 90 days or one year. Some types of programs may use registration of users rather than software purchase for profit, making free downloads of programs an easy form of replacement since the user paid for a registration or subscription service.

The details of the EULA provided with a program can also have an impact on the software warranty provided with a program. For example, the EULA may state that a software purchaser and user can make a copy of the software onto another disc to keep as a backup disc in case of damage to the original. This may be considered a replacement in terms of a software warranty, and therefore eliminate any official replacement offers. These types of warranties can vary greatly in terms of offers and usage, so individual software warranties should usually be read rather than assumed to provide any particular guarantees or protections.

Discussion Comments


All of these details typically depend on the terms of individual warranties. Upgrades usually come with their own warranties, even new versions often have a new license, EULA, and warranty associated with it.

Glitches and crashes are not typically covered in warranties, only if it doesn't work due to a problem with the install files. Glitches are usually considered part of the software experience, and we just end up waiting for a patch.


With a lot of software being available for international purchase, do warranties extend to all countries, or are you out of luck if you're not in the software producer's home country?

I would consider buying some software from abroad if I knew I could get some guarantee that it would work well and that I could get a replacement if I had any issues.

It seems to me that with physical purchases that you are out of luck if you're not in the right country when things go wrong. I remember buying a camera from Japan, and although the company was international, the warranty was only good where the camera was sold. Once you took it out of the country, the warranty was voided.


If you purchase software how long does the warranty usually last? I know with physical goods a one-year warranty is common, with extensions available for purchase.

Does this kind of warranty only cover the software if it doesn't work or if it glitches a lot and crashes?

In the case of upgrading your software to a newer version, would the warranty renew, or do you think it would still be under the initial period of time?

I find a warranty on goods like downloaded software to be interesting because there is no physical product to return or service. Without something to give back or replace, it seems to make the whole issue of warranty use fuzzier.

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    • Software warranties for a computer program might be provided in written form or on a file on the installation disk.
      By: Alysta
      Software warranties for a computer program might be provided in written form or on a file on the installation disk.