Keep your dongles safe. Always.


Keep your dongles safe. Always.

Posted On02/01/2018
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For any musician or sound engineer, the “key” to operate a licensed and legal software in many cases is the small little USB key referred to as a dongle. To avoid any minds to waver further, let us refer to this word as license key in this article now on. Pun intended in the title? Yes!

Being India’s focussed distributors of original software, we at are on the forefront to help customers avoid downtime to a minimum. Thanks to the new Goods and Service Tax (GST), we now sell original software at perhaps the cheapest prices in the world for most of the software products we represent in India. We are here to guide you post-purchase also. But the license key is something you should not take for granted and is your responsibility.

So please do read this article and refer to the links below that will keep you aware on what is to be done if a license key is lost / stolen / broken. Some questions received over the years have been compiled here.

There are two types of license keys:
a. eLicenser (by Steinberg, Germany and Vienna Instruments, Austria)
b. iLok (by Pace Anti-Piracy Inc., California, USA)

What is the difference between an eLicenser and iLok?

The eLicenser Control Center is a utility that allows for managing music software licenses by a variety of manufacturers like Steinberg Cubase / Nuendo; Vienna Instruments, Arturia, etc. available on

via the eLicenser Control Center licenses can be downloaded and stored on a USB-eLicenser (dongle, license key) or in a Soft-eLicenser (virtual license container on hard disk). Many licenses can also be transferred to other eLicensers via the eLicenser Control Center. Possible license transactions depend on the respective software and license.

Example: Cubase Elements does not come with a physical eLicenser key. So, it is authorised on a soft-eLicenser. However, you can purchase a separate eLicenser key here and put the license onto that key.

This USB key works with software from companies like Antares Technology (Auto-Tune), AudioEase, AVID/Digidesign, Celemony, Softube, Waves, etc. available on

The new aluminum version of the iLok, with its smaller size and sleek design, holds over 1500 software licenses and is fully backward compatible.

Q. Are there eLicensers made by other companies?

A. Yes. Companies like Vienna Instruments (VSL), Arturia make their own eLicenser keys (with permissions from Steinberg). And this is primarily done to brand their own logos / styles onto the USB key.

So, if we do not have the eLicenser in stock, you can always buy a Vienna key, or vice-versa, to get started with your software installation and activation.

A lot of people feel that Vienna key will not run Cubase Elements. Not true. Don’t buy another eLicenser if you already have, say a Vienna key.

Q. How important is my license key(s) for running my software?

A. Vital!
Though we find that many musicians and engineers just pull in and pull out even normal pen-drives (storage devices) from their USB ports, this kind of use will definitely damage the license keys.

The onus of handling the license key and its safety / protection lies on the user and not on the dealer or manufacturer of the product. Hence it is the most important device in your studio equipment list, inspite of being tiny in size.

You can install such software on any number of machines but please note that it will work only where the license key has been connected.

Q. Where should i put this license key in?

A. Sounds silly. But yes, we get asked this question by many!

Many users try to push their license USB keys into even firewire ports on their computers! And some push it so hard with the wrong side into a USB port that it breaks the connecting parts which makes the product unusable.

So if your room is dark, or even if you are in a great hurry to get started, please insert the license key carefully into your computer’s USB port. This is just like asking people to board a Mumbai local carefully and never be in a hurry to hop on.

These license keys need proper USB power to operate without a hitch. Hence connect them to the main USB port connected to your motherboard, and not to the USB ports available on the front which are meant for pen drives.

Q. So what if my key(s) is damaged / lost / stolen?

A. Though most users keep their equipment safe, this tiny little key is susceptible to being misplaced or even stolen from a studio for obvious reasons.
Sometimes when a house-help pushes your CPU towards the wall, the key may break too! Many a times, power fluctuations damage the keys. All this is not covered under company warranty.

Both, eLicenser and iLok makers have therefore something known as ZDT (Zero DownTime) Policy.

The links are given here which have videos and detailed notes on the same. Please do go through them as well. Just like we hear in advertisements, “Mutual Funds are subject to market risks. Please invest carefully”, each software purchase comes with its own Terms and Conditions too.

What is iLok Cloud?

The iLok Cloud allows iLok Cloud-enabled software to be authorized by any compatible license located in the user’s iLok Account (no need for a physical iLok USB or machine-licensing). This feature requires that the computer is continuously connected to the internet during use. So if you want to avoid being constantly connected to the Net, use the physical iLok instead. Read the pdf on iLok Cloud here >>

Useful tips to keep your sessions up and running:

1. Always keep your license keys safely stored in the studio or at home.

2. If you have an iLok, then do pay and subscribe to the ZDT of PACE Anti-Piracy.

3. If possible, remove the key(s) each time you are done with work for the day / night. You will end up saving a lot of money in the software bought and also save time on the transfer to a new iLok key.

4. Never insert or remove a key when the computer is already switched on. Do this only when it is off.

5. Keep a spare iLok and eLicenser with you. Though we have these in stock all the time, you never know when you may need one (could be a holiday / late night need). Unlike pharmacy stores, no store in the world runs 24×7 for making an instant delivery of a physical product. So do keep one extra blank license key with you.

6. Ensure that your studio runs on clean power. That is a must for each piece of equipment you have.

Just like health insurance, it is important that you keep your equipment protected with protection plans.
And make sure all your dongles remain in good shape too.


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