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Starting off your New Year right with SPSS

By Patrick McLeod, Research and Statistical Support Services Consultant

Happy 2008 to all of our loyal Benchmarks Online readership! A new year brings with it lots of things: New job opportunities, new adventures with family and friends and, of course, new versions of your favorite statistical software! Well, perhaps that last item is only a cause for celebration here in Academic Computing Services, but whether you are a casual user or a power user of SPSS, I would like to take this time and column space to hopefully steer you towards celebration and away from the consternation when installing the latest version of SPSS on a machine with other versions, particularly version 12.


One of the new versions of statistical software available to the UNT community in this early new year is SPSS 16 for Windows and SPSS 16 for Mac (Intel processors and Power PC processors alike). Sorry, students: Under our license agreement with SPSS, Inc., SPSS is only available free of charge to full time, benefits eligible faculty and staff. Students can purchase either the Student Version of SPSS 16 or the Grad Pack Version of SPSS 16 in the Union Bookstore.

As many of our SPSS power users will know, SPSS added a license management component to their software as of SPSS version 13. The Sentinel License Manager is a separate piece of software that is installed when you install SPSS. When installed with the site license option, Sentinel will check the authorization code you supply during the license authorization process against a list of legitimate authorization codes via a live internet connection. Once your authorization code is validated, then Sentinel initializes your SPSS installation as good through the end of that authorization code’s time period. Our authorization codes are renewed on an annual basis, so each individual version of SPSS will need to be re-authorized through the License Authorization Wizard as the old code expires and a new code is issued. This is only true of the site license option installations; SPSS instances installed under the network option validate their installations against a Sentinel license server hosted locally on UNT’s network. These network licenses are dependent on that license server hosting a valid license for that particular version of SPSS.

Keeping your SPSS local installation running smoothly

There are two things which will greatly assist you in keeping your SPSS local installation running smoothly in 2008 and beyond: Keeping your version current and uninstalling SPSS 12 before installing new versions of SPSS. SPSS, Inc. has a two version support policy in place at this time. What this means is that SPSS only supports the current version and the next most current version of their software. In our case, SPSS is only offering current support for SPSS 15 and SPSS 16 for Windows and SPSS 13 and SPSS 16 for Mac. All older versions of SPSS (14, 13 and 12) are considered aged out and we have to make a special request to our account manager in order to obtain new authorization codes for these pieces of software, authorization codes that are usually just long enough to not disrupt academic activity in order for us to assist in moving you up to a currently supported version. It is my goal to get the entire UNT SPSS community moved up to version 16 for site license option installations by the end of this Spring 2008 semester. I hope to be able to report some similar timeline to you later this Spring for SPSS 16 installed under the network license option.

We have seen several instances of license authorization issues when running concurrent installations of SPSS 12 and newer versions of SPSS. These do not seem to be a consistent problem, but the issues to occur often enough that we advise anyone still running SPSS 12 to uninstall it before installing SPSS 16. There seems to be something about the manner in which the Sentinel license manager authorizes new installations of SPSS that sometimes gets “crossed” with SPSS 12.

In conclusion, to get your statistical computing year off on the right foot, keep your locally installed versions of SPSS current and remember to uninstall SPSS 12 before installing SPSS 16! Happy computing!



Originally published, January 2008 -- Please note that information published in Benchmarks Online is likely to degrade over time, especially links to various Websites. To make sure you have the most current information on a specific topic, it may be best to search the UNT Website - . You can also search Benchmarks Online - as well as consult the UNT Helpdesk - Questions and comments should be directed to

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