When Data Builder is run for the first time on a machine it will need to activate your license key and will pop up the License Dialog wizard.  After selecting "Enter your License Key" and entering your license key correctly (it then shows a green checkmark) and then selecting "Activate Now (automatic or manual)" the activation fails and reports:

Unable to complete the activation due to an error:

Access is denied.

Attempting to "Perform Offline Activation" would also likely fail in this case (and does not need to be attempted if this error is encountered) because the problem occurs upon attempting to locally complete activation after receiving the activation package from the server.

This error can also happen if VistaDB's VS Designer tools extensions are used within Visual Studio before activating with Data Builder (they both use the same activation).  We recommend first activating using Data Builder using the procedure outlined below.


In order to activate the license for any user of that computer, a public key is created in the machine key store by which the activation package can be decrypted.  By default, only the user who created the key has sufficient permissions to use it, so its permissions will be changed after it is first created to ensure that all users will be able to access the activation and be able to update activation over time.

However, changes by Microsoft over the years in how the machine key store permissions are handled mean that on some systems (possibly most systems) the user does not have the permissions level necessary to change the permissions on the public key that they just created in the machine key store.  Administrator permissions are required but as a prudent security measure are not normally accessible to programs when run normally, even by a qualified administrative user.  Activating elevated Administrator permissions is necessary in order to fix the permissions on the created public key.


Data Builder may need to be run one time with elevated administrator permissions in order to fix the permissions on the public key used to decrypt the machine-wide activation for the computer.

  1. Launch Data Builder with the "Run as administrator" menu action after right-clicking on the executable or on the shortcut found on the desktop or task bar.  (If using the task bar shortcut, it may be necessary to right-click on the Data Builder entry in the first menu that comes up after right-clicking on the shortcut.)
  2. Data Builder may then automatically activate a previously entered license key or may pop up the License Dialog wizard if you did not yet enter your license key.  If retrying a manual/offline activation after previously encountering this problem, you can just retry the final activation step if you still have the activation file available.  (But an activation file from longer ago should be updated by going through the full steps to obtain a new activation file.)
  3. Data Builder should then come up successfully.  Note that it is running with elevated administrator permissions, so you may want to just exit the application without doing anything else.  Then just re-launch Data Builder normally.

Data Builder (and the VS Designer tools extensions) should now work when launched normally--without needing to "run as administrator" again--because the permissions on the public key have been corrected without encountering an error.

It should not be necessary to use "run as administrator" again for further license activations (such as replacing a trial key with a permanent license key).  If the same error is encountered again, you can consider trying this procedure again to see if it will fix it--however, it could be a different problem, and this may or may not fix it.

Consult if you are unable to clear the activation error after trying the "run as administrator" workaround or if the error comes back in the future and you are unsure if it is the same issue.