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Dongles and Software Licensing

February 3, 2012

In the forensics world it is common for higher-price software products to utilize a dongle as a license management tool. The idea is pretty simple in that the user has only to plug something into a USB port and for the software publisher it is almost foolproof.

Many of the dongle devices available today provide the ability to be remotely updated so updates to extend the license term, change program versions and add product features can be done via email without the dongle ever leaving its location.

The problem for many users is “dongle management” where each product has its own dongle. There are a number of dongle management issues, such as keeping track of them when multiple users are sharing a limited number of dongles. To some extent, it is a worse problem when every user has their own dongle but must figure out a way to manage a limited number of USB ports.

InfinaDyne is using the WIBUBox dongle which is an older product but very stable. It is also a very economical dongle for both InfinaDyne and the customer in that a lost or damaged dongle isn’t terribly expensive to replace. There are also some interesting management solutions available with this dongle that our users may not be familiar with.

The first solution that I encountered last year is the Macally TriHub. It is a potential solution for users running out of USB ports, especially on Macintosh hardware with only a few USB ports to begin with. The TriHub is a 7 port powered hub, which means that devices relying on power from the USB port can be used with it. It is also under $25 and very compact. If you are trying to plug five or six dongles into a single computer a common 4 port hub isn’t going to do it for you and chaining hubs isn’t really a good idea. This 7 port hub may be the answer.

Alternatively, if you are trying to manage a small number of licenses across a larger number of users a different solution may be appropriate. InfinaDyne supports network license management, where the dongle is plugged into a central computer (not necessarily a server) and multiple users can utilize this license. There are two levels to this, one at no additional cost where individual single-license dongles are used. This works fine for a small number of dongles but quickly becomes unusable for more than three or four. In that case you can purchase the network dongle which replaces individual dongles with a single dongle that can support any number of licenses. This means that on a single computer running the license server you can have one dongle and any number of users can use this. This solution will work over a VPN for remote users as well, as long as they have network access.

Finally, there is the MyUTN solution. If you have multiple shared dongle products this may be the solution you are looking for. It allow up to eight different USB dongles to be plugged in to a single sharing server. This will work for all dongle types regardless of their support for network licensing sharing. It has a locking cover over the dongles so they aren’t borrowed from the MyUTN device. It can also be rack-mounted for placement in a server room for even more security. The MyUTN device connects to the network and requires a driver to be installed on each computer using the service.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2012 11:03 am

    There is no doubt dongles have benefits when it comes to mobility.

    But, most companies today that use dongles for some/all of their license management solution are trying to remove them in favor of more advanced technology due to the cost of dongles, and the dongle management problem (multiple dongles; updating dongles).

    We offer license management solutions at Flexera Software for both dongle-based and non-dongle-based mechanisms.

    • William permalink
      January 31, 2015 1:13 pm

      Your software (at least at that time) destroys the bootloaders of computers running TrueCrypt disk encryption.

      • January 31, 2015 7:01 pm

        Very interesting. I would be very interested in knowing what version of what software do s this. If it is version 2 of CD/DVD Inspector it is due to the dongle software from Rainbow (now Safenet) and we stopped using them in 2006 because of various problems.

  2. Sumit Agarwal permalink
    October 8, 2015 8:28 am

    Hello. I have a software with dongle with single user license. I want to use it over a network so that 3 users can use it simultaneously. What solution can you provide in that regard?

    • October 8, 2015 9:03 pm

      You are talking about changing the licensing terms after the sale. If that is allowed, you are going to need to consult with the publisher of that software. If this is an InfinaDyne product, we do support this, but not with the standard single-user dongle. It is possible, but you need to ask our sales department about the cost. I am going to say the starting point is going to be the sales department of the publisher no matter who it is. It is certainly possible in most cases.

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