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Why so much hate against USB security dongles (like iLok and Steinberg key)

barteredbride

Hello and hola...a Brit in Spain
Innocent question honestly.

I've always had to use one for VSL libraries, but never really thought about it.

I've read a few times people refusing to use certain companies or products because they use security usb dongles.

Just intrigued by reasoning why. Workflow? Extra cost? The Big Brother element? Lack of trust?

Sorry if I'm opening up a hot topic here!!

Thanks everyone!
 

W Ackerman

Just me
I have a lot of very critical data and applications on my computer (not music-related) and go to great lengths to be able to recover quickly from bare metal on another computer, perhaps in another location. In the event of theft or destruction that includes the dongles, complete restoration on another computer is problematic. I also have applications that are tied to a hardware signature and require reactivation on a new computer, but these are not as problematic.
 

Wally Garten

Active Member
Honestly, I just resent a company demanding a USB slot all to itself. Between MIDI controllers, interfaces, external drives, synths that plug in, etc., open slots are in short supply on a musician's desk. Just strikes me as rude -- especially when they charge for the dongle.
 

ManicMiner

in the Skylab landing bay
For me, its the price they charge (I think $25) for the privilege of transferring a license. Its the price of the USB stick itself, its the fact that it takes up a USB port, and if you want to use your plugins on another computer you have to take your dongle with you, and thats one more thing to lose out of your pocket.
I have an iLok a/c but machine register.
If a product needs an iLok key, I probably won't buy it.
 

I like music

Senior Member
My worry is about it breaking (or getting stolen) from my laptop. On the move I always think "this will snap off" or snag on something as I move my laptop around.
 

JonSolo

Not Han's Brother
Honestly, I just resent a company demanding a USB slot all to itself. Between MIDI controllers, interfaces, external drives, synths that plug in, etc., open slots are in short supply on a musician's desk. Just strikes me as rude -- especially when they charge for the dongle.
I am unaware of any company that demands a USB slot to itself. My eLicenser has products from at least 6 or 7 different companies, and my iLok maybe 15 different companies. With over 200 products combined between the two, it made trading computers a year a go very easy.

There will always be concerns about products breaking or getting stolen, but that is (sadly) a part of life. I DO wish companies that used these products (since they are license related) would work more with individuals who have been victims of theft or otherwise. But I also understand the potential to abuse such a system.

I get why people do not like dongles, but also feel that being passive about it helps me to sleep better and be more creative.
 
OP
barteredbride

barteredbride

Hello and hola...a Brit in Spain
For me, its the price they charge (I think $25) for the privilege of transferring a license. Its the price of the USB stick itself, its the fact that it takes up a USB port, and if you want to use your plugins on another computer you have to take your dongle with you, and thats one more thing to lose out of your pocket.
I have an iLok a/c but machine register.
If a product needs an iLok key, I probably won't buy it now.
Yes I remember when I moved house a few years ago and somehow managed to loose my VSL elicenser with around £2000 worth of licenses on the dongle.

It turned up in a random box 3 weeks later.
 

novaburst

Senior Member
When think about it if we had a world with out dongle license there would be nothing to rant about,

I think forums need to have a vent about something, kind of mixes it up.
 

Manuel Stumpf

Active Member
I find the idea of dongles not bad at all.
  • I can use my software whereever I wish.
  • New machine, no hassle just bring my dongle with me and I am good.
  • Dongles will not stop working even if the developer goes out of business at some time (in contrary all online activation using developer specific user accounts will vanish).

Problematic for me are:
  • licenses that activate to a special hardware signature. When my computer breaks I can only hope to get another activation (based only on generosity of the developer, if they let me or not).
  • licenses that require to be online to activate (which means the machine must be connected to the internet). Even worse is if I have to be online all the time (not only for activation, no internet connectivity -> no function)
In case your dongle is lost or stolen, well that is everyones own fault. Just protect your dongle.

So in general I like the idea of a dongle. I have my licenses fully under my own control.

The only thing intriguing about dongles is:
What if it breaks? Then all my licenses are lost.
All developers should give you your licenses again, at least if you can prove that your dongle is defective (proove for example by sending it back).
But that they try to charge me insurances (or tell me to buy a dongle every two years) for their anti piracy protection scheme is just ridiculous.
 
I have no less than three reasons for having strictly avoided dongles to date.

I currently have a seven port USB hub on my main studio computer, along with four USB ports on the computer itself. And every single one of those ports (ten in total) is already occupied in the course of my normal studio operations. Similarly, I have exactly 2 USB ports on my portable computer, and when I’m using it for music purposes, both of those are filled as well. So in both cases, needing to use a dongle would require me to daisy-chain a second USB hub in the studio (yuck), or to begin carrying around a USB hub (and the power cable for same, as it would need to be a powered hub) with my mobile setup (also yuck). So that’s the first reason I dislike dongles.

Second, as other people have said, is the possibility of losing or breaking the dongle and having my studio go down as a result. At least right now, if something would happen to either of my music computers, I would have the other one to fall back on until I could get the problem system up and running again. Compare that to the scenario of having my entire music efforts controlled by the availability of a single tiny dongle, not to mention the associated software of the dongle’s maker, which would introduce a single point of vulnerability that could stop me from making music entirely, and that is something I don’t like at all.

But my final and largest concern is not so much with the dongles as it is with the associated software created by the dongle companies. I especially have a major revulsion to iLok (PACE) based upon my history with them (which I won’t burden this thread with, but you can look at my forum profile for a few details if you would like). I also used to purchase and use Steinberg’s Wavelab many years back, until their own copy protection software caused me (a legitimate, paying owner) so many problems with keeping it operational on my computers that I gave up and moved to something else. Which gives me a major level of distrust of both iLok and eLicensor on top of the general concerns about dongle solutions I’ve detailed above.
 

Wally Garten

Active Member
I am unaware of any company that demands a USB slot to itself.
Fair enough -- maybe I should have been more precise. The only major library company I know of that requires a dongle is VSL. So, for me, acquiring a dongle would be solely for the privilege of using VSL. I would prefer zero dongles, so to acquire one for a single company just doesn't sit right.
 

Mornats

Senior Member
I resent the fact that the inconvenience and cost of copy protection is placed on the honest individual who spends their hard earned money on software. I'm a hobbyist, a group where piracy is possibly more prevalent than in pros and I see others get the same software for free without any of the hassle of maintaining licences or buying dongles. It just sucks that I have to contend with that as my reward for being honest and supporting software companies.

Don't get me wrong, I fully support software developers and sample library companies in their efforts to stop the piracy of their products and I don't know how else they'd do it, but it's like buying a DVD and being forced to watch the "don't steal this film" warning. I'm the one who bought it, don't preach to me! Then I think of the people who have just torrented the movie and how they don't have to sit through the FBI chastising them and it makes me think I'm a bit of a mug for being honest.

Plus, as a hobbyist I can safely say there isn't any software that I *need* so I can pick and choose who I buy it from. So I do.
 

Raphioli

Active Member
but it is the absolutely least secure way for the costumer, as they have to use something that can physically break, be stolen or lost.
Same.

If the dongle breaks or gets stolen, but devs were like "no problem, we'll send a new license right away", I wouldn't mind dongles at all. All I have to do is buy a new dongle.
And as for USB ports, I could just use a USB hub and it'll only take a single port. (at least for me)
 

kitekrazy

Senior Member
One of the best anti dongle arguments came from a developer at Spectrasonics. You can probably still find his comments on the Northern Sounds forum. This was when there were far more flaws in iLok. He did not like that hurdle between him and the end user. I still have the 1st iLok that looks like a penis. I'm sure that design was prone to break.
It still has advantages to the end user who has multiple systems. Than again I always support developers who have flexible licensing.
Most of the hate is directed at VSL. I like how Propellerheads does it. I have their dongle that is one on system, the other systems I just log in to the app.
License friendly developers are Image-Line (they probably have the highest use illegal users), Cockos, Mixcraft, Mixbus, Bandlab, Izotope, Melda.
 
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dzilizzi

I know nothing
Mostly I like the dongles as I can have software on more than the 1 or 2 computers allowed by the licenses. I've also found it is so much easier to load a new computer or hard drive if I don't have to worry about getting another authorization from the software maker who may or may not still be in business.

That said, my issues with dongles are similar to every one else's. Laptops have less and less USB ports every time I get a new one. I have 4 dongles right now: an iLok, an elicenser, a codemeter, and a USB flash drive with Waves, Plugin Alliance and one other companies authorizations on it. Frankly I just bought a 4 port hub that they stay plugged into and that moves from computer to computer.

My other complaint is that I have to pay for insurance for all separately if I want them insured. I buy everything on sale, but if I had to replace it all at full price? It would be over $10K. Or maybe $20k? I don't have that kind of money to waste on a hobby

Would I prefer not having to need a dongle? Yes. Do I understand the need for them? Yes. Does it make me think about buying software then downloading a pirated copy that doesn't need a dongle and storing my dongle somewhere safe so I won't lose it? Yes.
 

robgb

I was young once
1. They take up valuable USB space.
2. They can get lost.
3. They can go bad.
4. Recovery policies differ from developer to developer.
5. Developers tacitly assume you are a pirate who can't be trusted not to share your libraries.
6. YOU have to purchase an additional piece of hardware for THEIR protection, not yours.
7. They expect YOU to purchase a new dongle every couple years to avoid failure.
8. To prevent having to pay exorbitant replacement prices, some developers make YOU pay for insurance for THEIR piracy protection.
 

Quasar

Senior Member
Same.

If the dongle breaks or gets stolen, but devs were like "no problem, we'll send a new license right away", I wouldn't mind dongles at all. All I have to do is buy a new dongle.
And as for USB ports, I could just use a USB hub and it'll only take a single port. (at least for me)
For an extra fee, iLok has something called Zero Downtime, which will supposedly get you up and running quickly after a lost, broken or stolen dongle. So not only do they place the cost of their oppressive, draconian CP onto the end-user, but they actually charge you a premium to mitigate the risk that they themselves have created. It's nothing more than a Mafia-like protection racket...

...Dongles, subscriptions, mandatory online activation; these are all corporofascist business models exist for no other reason than to protect capital interest at the expense of the honest end-user. They are morally criminal and the only reason they exist is because not enough people have the integrity to boycott them. The only reason they are legal at all is because laws in capitalistic societies are bought and paid for by the profit-driven entities who profit from them.
 
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