What is your opinion on USB licensing dongles?

What do you think of USB dongles for software licenses (sample libraries etc.)?
There are many different ones: iLok, Steinberg E-licenser, Vienna Key.

Am I the only one that really hates USB-dongles? I was so happy when iLok started offering machine-based iLok licensing. Sadly not all products support it, and the VSL libraries all require its own Vienna USB Key for the licenses. :rage:

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Well, I’m just not a fan of DRM in any form, pretty much. I kind of prefer USB dongles to disk based activations, though, as they at least offer some chance of your activations surviving disk failures or crashes, and in some cases, it’s also officially possible to retrieve activations from a dead dongle, which is NOT possible with disk activations. (That’s what it looks like in the fine print, at least.) In the case of iLok, there’s even an optional service that can provide you with temporary activations until situations such as failed or lost dongles are resolved.

What actually happens if you contact support about lost activations in either case is another matter, though. By the looks of it, I just hope I’ll never need to do that…

i have two keys but on my pc i have also 2 usb port busy by these dongle
i understand that company want to protect their work and their product but i am sure there is other way to protect software
best service have done something great, when you buy a soft or a library you can register 3 times but after that you had to contact the support and give them the proof that it is your licence and not a hacked one
vsl need ilock, cubase need elicenser, arturia also i lock, eastwest cloud also ilock and there is so may that use this boring system

please find another way to protect your library and software because on notebook there is only 2 usb port !!!


I absolutely dislike using dongles. My main DAW is Nuendo 10, it uses an e-licenser and I had to buy myself a Cubase 10 license when I’m on my mobile rig on the road and I always put it in a special pocket in my backpack as a plan B just in case.

I think dongles are terrible because they use your USB ports, can easily break, can prevent you from working if they have errors. In 2019, this is unacceptable. I wish companies offered an alternative method similar to Adobe where u simply log in to your account and you can authenticate your machine.

I’m actually starting to consider learning Digital Performer because it doesn’t have a dongle…

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Exactly, why not a simple login to verify. It’s so annoying with dongles, I’m glad I am not the only one that is super upset about this.

The reason I was bringing this up just now is that I noticed VSL was offering a freebie product, BUT it still requires you to have the Vienna license USB dongle! =(

I despise them to the bitter black core of my heart.

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I think they’re great for when your machine crashes and you’re not able to to the whole “deactivation” thing on your old system, but other than that I agree that they’re a pain!

Bit of a sidetrack, but a funny story : I had a friend once that contacted iLok as he’d forgotten his login details, and iLok just happily sent him the new login details for the username he’d given them. Turns out he had the same name as a pretty established composer, and had been given that composer’s login details instead!

He suddenly found himself with an iLok with tens of thousands of $$$ worth of sample library licenses on it :joy:

Of course, he owned up to it, told iLok and got the whole situation rectified. Great story though, haha!


I am not a fan of dongles either, but… tbh, so far I didn’t have any problems with it and I very much like the feeling of the freedom to compose on any laptop or computer I want. What I hate about it is that nowadays the developers have so many other ways how to control licensing…, so buying the little and easily lost device seems kind of old fashioned :smile: I am worried sick it stops working or I just forget it somewhere :grimacing: