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The process by which hardware or software is deliberately prevented from functioning in some way. For hardware, it may be as simple as switching off a piece of equipment, or disconnecting a cable. It is more commonly associated with software, particularly shareware or promotional software, which has been supplied to a user at little or no cost, to try before paying the full purchase or registration fee. Such software may be described as 'crippled' in that certain functions, such as saving or printing files are not permitted. Some in-house development staff may well disable parts of a new program, so that the user can try out the parts which have been developed, while work continues on the disabled functions.

Disabling is also often used as a security measure, for example the risk of virus infection through the use of infected floppy diskettes can be greatly reduced, by disconnecting a cable within the PC, thereby disabling the floppy drive. Even greater protection is achieved by removing the drive altogether, thereby creating a diskless PC.

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