Tip

Use RunAsDate freeware to set system time and date for programs

The free utility RunAsDate lets you run any other program as if the system time and date were set to something different.

One of the newest applications from freeware author Nir Sofer, RunAsDate is simple to use.

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  • Unpack it anywhere (no installation is needed),
  • Point to an application somewhere.
  • Provide the date and time to use for the program, supply any optional command-line parameters.
  • Click Run.

From that point on, any kernel API calls made by that program will be intercepted and replaced with the date and time you've described.

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One possible use for RunAsDate is as a debugging measure—to determine if a given application is attempting to retrieve its time information from an external server rather than from the system clock. Another possible use for RunAsDate is to check if a program behaves bizarrely on leap days or during Daylight Saving Time periods. Such times might affect an internally developed application that hasn't been subjected to the same level of debugging as a commercial application.

I should mention that one obvious abuse for RunAsDate (one to look out for if your organization is trying to observe software-licensing restrictions) would be to use it to cheat programs that have trial versions that time out after a certain number of days. However, simply using RunAsDate will generally not work for such a program for several reasons, one being that the system date and time are not the only metrics used to determine how much time has elapsed since the program was first run. It might be possible to use RunAsDate in conjunction with other programs or techniques to cheat such copy protection, but that's not something you can do casually. (Or should.)

Note: The program only works for 32-bit Windows programs—16-bit DOS applications and 64-bit Windows apps will not work here.

About the author:Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to SearchWinComputing.com and SearchSQLServer.com.

This was first published in June 2007

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