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How To Use An iLok With Pro Tools - Part 1

There has been alot of things said about the humble iLok but t has been helping us to manage licences so we can legitimately use our chosen creative tools for 10 years now. So perhaps it’s no surprise that PACE have come up with a new and improved version of the iLok. For the first time, all current versions of Pro Tools also now require an iLok for authorisation. This was not the case with Pro Tools 8, and a good number of Pro Tools LE users who upgrade to Pro Tools 9 will need to get to grips with using an iLok for the first time. If you haven’t seen one before, an iLok is a small device that you plug into any USB port on your computer. The software checks for its presence before it will run on that system. Take the iLok away and the software is no longer authorised and won’t function.

If you buy a boxed copy of the Pro Tools 10 software, it comes with a pre‑authorised iLok, while Pro Tools HD and HD Native systems come with an empty iLok and activation code for authorising a Pro Tools licence onto the iLok. If you are upgrading from an earlier version of HD or LE, the pack comes just with an activation code, so if you don’t already have one, you will need to buy an iLok separately.

iLoks are small and very valuable!
Existing users won’t need reminding that the iLok is a very valuable item, as, in effect, it is worth the combined value of all the software licences that are authorised on it (up to 100 on the original iLok, 500 on each second-generation version). It is also small, which makes it very easy to lose or get stolen! Your iLok.com account, likewise, needs to be treated securely, just as you would treat your online banking details. Don’t make the password simple, and don’t share your password with anyone. Also because it is so valuable you should insure it for the value of the software on it in case of loss or theft.

First timer
If you are using an iLok for the first time, you’ll need to set up an account at iLok.com to manage the licences (or “assets”) on your iLok. You need to do this on a computer connected to the Internet, and there are lots of help videos, including one to help you sign up for a new account.In doing so, you’ll need to choose a unique iLok User ID. Note that at the time of writing, Firefox 4 and 5 are not supported; PACE are working hard to resolve this, but in the meantime they recommend you use Firefox 3.x.  On the Mac they also support the latest version of Safari, and on Windows they support Internet Explorer 8, I have found that Google’s Chrome as well even though it isn’t listed.

Setting up and running an account at iLok.com is free, but PACE also offer optional services that do have costs attached. One is Zero Down Time, which aims to keep your music system up and running if you do lose or break an iLok. Another is the facility to transfer licences between iLok.com accounts so people can sell their unwanted software. we will be taking a look at pros & cons of ZDT in a subsequent post. 

Get a Buddy
Especially if you are using an iLok on a latop then get an iLok Buddy which is avery short USB extension cable. One of the main causes of iLok damage is from iLok plugged intot he side of a laptop that gets knocked or worse.

Get the software
Once your account is set up, make sure you’ve installed the iLok Client Software, so that iLok.com can communicate with your iLoks. This is available from the Download page.

Upgrading from Pro Tools LE
If you’re upgrading from Pro Tools LE 8 or earlier, creating an iLok account provides somewhere for Avid to deposit the iLok licence for Pro Tools 9. To do this, go to the Avid Activation page and input your Activation Code, which will be on a card that came with the software, and then your iLok User ID. If you get this bit wrong, the licence could end up in someone else’s account, so take care! Now go back to iLok.com, and once you have logged on, you should see a note that says you have new licences available, with a Download button to hit.

If you haven’t bought an iLok yet, do make sure you get the nice, shiny, second-generation one rather than the discontinued original, as we are already starting to see new software releases that only support the newer model.

Part 2
In part 2 we will be looking what you can and can’t do when you want to move a license or asset from one iLok to another. 

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