When it comes to using any CAC reader from home, it isn’t just plug and play. You’re going to need a couple extra things to get started such as Drivers and ActivClient.
And while you may be familiar with what drivers are, ActivClient may be relatively new to you. So let’s discuss what ActivClient is and where to obtain the proper version for your CAC.
What is ActivClient?
ActivClient is one of the most important pieces of the being able to use your CAC at home puzzle. It’s the actual software that allows your computer to communicate with the little computer chip embedded within the CAC itself.
The program was purposely designed with 4 major goals in mind.
- Increase Security
- Optimize Productivity
- Improve Compliance
- Reduce Costs
And for the most part, the program runs as designed. But if you’re using your CAC for DoD applications… Each branch has differences when installing ActivClient. (More info on that later.) And like most software, there are many different versions available.
It’s imperative that you’re running the appropriate version–which normally means you’re updated to the latest edition. However, it can often be difficult to determine exactly what version you need. If you’re unsure at all, don’t hesitate to ask your command or local PSD which one you need.
Where can I download the right version of ActivClient for my CAC?
Utilizing ActivClient properly is one of the biggest hangups when it comes to ensuring functional operation of your CAC reader. Normally, the hardware drivers are pretty simple. Most come with the CAC reader itself. But ActivClient is another story.
You’re going to need to independently install ActivClient to your computer.
But that’s OK. It’s not as difficult as you would believe–depending on your branch of service anyway. Here’s the best way each branch can get the right ActivClient software:
This includes Navy reservists. You’re going to need to contact your command’s IT personnel. Alternatively, you can outright purchase ActivClient 7.1 but… It’s so much simpler otherwise. Just remember, if you do purchase the software, ActivClient 7.1 works with Windows versions 7, 8, 8.1, 10.
This includes Reservists and National Guard. You can easily access ActivClient through your AKO (Army Knowledge Online) portal. Just be sure you’re choosing the right program. There’s ActivClient 7.1 options for both 64-bit and 32-bit Windows.
Here’s the link for each:
64-bit: ActivClient AKO 64-bit
32-bit: ActivClient AKO 32-bit
NOTE: In order to best use these links, right click the link and select “Copy Link Address”. Then paste the URL above in your URL bar. This will prevent you from being directed to the AKO homepage.
This includes Air Force reservists. You’d think that the Air Force would make this simple for you, however… not so much. The Air Force only has a convoluted download process for older Windows OS’s such as XP and Vista. The best route to take for this would be to purchase the software outright from a third party.
We recommend getting it from SCB Solutions. One download will provide you with the capabilities to install ActivClient on Windows 7, 8, or 10.
This includes reservists. Previously, the Marines had a download for the program on their MCNOSC… but they’ve since updated and removed the download. You’ll have to get this through an external purchase. Again, we recommend SCB Solutions. It’s super simple to get and will cover all your issues.
This includes reservists. The Coast Guard currently has a download for ActivClient 6.1 on their portal. But this will only work for older OS’s such as XP and Vista. SO… just like the Marines and Air Force above, get it from SCB Solutions.
So as far as I know, there’s no portal for DoD Civvies where you can get ActivClient. Thankfully, you can buy the software from a third party vendor.
1 thought on “ActivClient for Windows Home CAC Use [2020 Updated!]”
I’m a Client Support Administrator working as a contractor in the U.S. Air Force with all of the basic certifications under my belt. CompTIA 901-902: A+, CompTIA SK0-004: Server+, CompTIA SY0-501: Security+, CompTIA N10-007: Network+, Microsoft Technical Associate (MTA) 98-368: Mobility and Device Fundamentals, MTA 98-365: Windows Server Administration Fundamentals, MTA 98-367: Security Fundamentals, MTA 98-366: Networking Fundamentals as well as the Linux Professional Institute 010-160: Linux Essentials. The reason why I tell you this is because I’ve been doing this for many years and up until very recently have I had any problems installing ActivClient on any personal computers. However, I’ve been working on the Commander’s personnel laptop which is an HP with an 8th gen Core i5 and 8GB RAM and the most recent installation of Windows 10 version 2004. I have tried everything in the book to get this software to install with the .msi file and it will get as far as “starting services” and then it rolls back the installation. So if you’re having problems installing this, then don’t blame yourself because this is obviously either Microsoft related or else it’s a device specific installation problem, and I have yet to figure out the answer to that question. I’m still trying to work to get this thing to play nice. I have successfully installed it on other computers without any problems, so this is why I believe that it’s a device specific issue. I’m not going to let it beat me!