Have a license for an old Adobe product, but can’t find your disk? Not an issue. As long as you’ve got your serial number you’ve got a legal way to download and run the software you paid for, thanks to a not-so-secret Adobe FTP site containing every version of pretty much every program Adobe’s ever offered.
It will blow your mind, and possibly cause you to forgive your dog and/or child for chewing up your thousand-dollar Creative Suite disks.
Last week the entire Internet was whipped into a downloading frenzy because of a simple rumor: that Adobe was giving away it’s 2005-era Creative Suite 2 (CS2), no strings attached. It sounded too good to be true – the Creative Suite includes everything from Photoshop to InDesign to Acrobat, so even an out-of-date giveaway is an amazing offering.
Turns out, of course, that this was too good to be true: Adobe didn’t mean to give their software away, and were only trying to help users who purchased the Creative Suite back in 2005 keep using it. Adobe was about to shut down the registration servers, without which it would be impossible to install legal copies of CS2 on a new computer. Adobe’s solution: offer full versions of the software online, without the need for the activation servers.
Of course, you’re only supposed to use these downloads if you’ve got a legal copy of CS2, so don’t download this if you don’t. They’ll work, but don’t.
You can see why this might be confusing: there was basically a page on Adobe’s site where anyone could download a pre-cracked version of CS2, complete with a working serial. It’s like BitTorrent without the malware risks.
Does this make life easier for software pirates? Probably. But does doing things like this also make life easier for Adobe’s customers? Absolutely. Because of these free downloads legal users can continue to use their products even though Adobe’s turned off their activation servers. (Hopefully Blizzard’s Diablo 3, which requires the Internet to even start up, keeps working after Blizzard shuts down the servers because of a similar offering. LOL, JK, UR SKREWED).
Anyway, if you think helping customers in a way that might also help pirates is somehow uncharacteristic of Adobe, you’re wrong. The company goes a long way to provide customers with working versions of their software, even if the disks they bought it on are long broken or gone. If you’re paying thousands of dollars for software you should expect high quality customer service, and Adobe delivers – at least in this way.
Adobe’s Not-So-Secret FTP Server
A staggering amount of the software Adobe’s sold in the past can all be found on one FTP server, which you can explore any time. Don’t believe me? Here it is:
You’ll find working versions of most of Adobe’s software. Believe it:
You can’t actually use any of this software without a license: you’ll end up with only the trial version, and some software will simply cease to work at all until you activate. But everything is here, and I mean everything: the programs that make up the Creative Suite from Photoshop to Premiere to Illustrator. Every version of Adobe Reader, ever. Flash, Air, something called Serious Magic…just explore, you’ll find a lot.
It can be overwhelming in its completeness – dig long enough and you’ll find Palm Pilot versions of Acrobat Reader and references to something called Viewer95. There are folders on this server created a full two years before Google was even founded: 1996.
It’s not just an FTP server: it’s a museum of all things Adobe.
And that Adobe FTP site is there for you to explore, because Adobe wants to make life as easy as possible for its customers. Broke your CD, but have your serial number? No problem; you can download another copy.
Does this make life easier for software pirates? Again: probably. But does doing things like this make life easier for Abobe’s customers? Again: absolutely.
Many are saying that Adobe made a mistake last week, that they suddenly got all sorts of positive publicity for giving away a free version of CS2 and that they should have seized that moment and publicly given away their product. I’m not sure I agree with that, and even if this was a missed moment it’s not like Adobe is doing anything to lock down. Other thanthe company hasn’t officially said much of anything, and the downloads of working CS2 versions are still out there.
It’s just one of the many things Adobe does to help its customers that may or may not also enable piracy – and as the Adobe FTP site full of awesome demonstrates, Adobe’s been doing just that for a long time.
Oh, and if you’re looking for some Adobe goodies that actually are free, check out our guide to Photoshop CS6, guide to Illustrator or any of our free PDF guides, many of which are Adobe related. No strings attached.
Image Credit: by OtnaYdur via Shutterstock
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