PACE (the makers of iLoks and the providers of the iLok.com site) offer a Zero Down Time package is a kind of insurance policy and costs $30 per iLok per year or until the service is used. It is designed to get you back up as soon as possible after an iLok loss or failure. You should note that it is something you must sign up for before you loose your iLok. With ZDT you can be back up within 15 to 20 minutes, but without it, it could be several weeks before you finally get sorted.
So is it worth having ZDT? To help answer that, let me take your through two actual real examples that have happened to me. The first, from a couple of years ago, where one of my clients didn’t have ZDT and the second which has just happened to me where one of my ZDT covered iLok 2 devices failed.
Example 1 - No ZDT
Day 1: I received a call from the client and it became apparent that the iLok was not being recognised. When I arrived, I found that the LED on the iLok wasn’t lit. I checked it in another known working USB socket but still no light. Fortunately the software assets on the iLok were not ‘life threatening’ to the client, so I moved the relevant plug-ins into the Disabled Plug-ins folder, so that they wouldn’t complain every time Pro Tools was booted, and brought the iLok back to my office for further investigation. I verified on my system that there was still no light and also that the Pace software couldn’t see the iLok either. It was definitely a dead iLok!
Day 2: I went into the client’s iLok account on ilok.com, and log in and follow the instructions. Pace will replace the iLok free of charge if it fails in the first year and it hasn’t been physically damaged.
When you are satisfied it is faulty you have to start an ‘RMA process’, which involves sending it back to Pace in the US. You may be charged $39.95 plus shipping, depending what they find. Next, you need to fill in the on-line RMA form, which is clearly laid out, with prompts to help you along the way.
Once I had submitted the RMA, I received an email from PACE explaining again how the process works, reminding me that I had to send them the iLok even if it started working again. The email confirmed the iLok serial number, gave me an RMA tracking ID and explained how and where to return the broken iLok. They strongly recommend that you send it via a service that requires a signature at the far end and offers a tracking system whilst in transit. They advise you to only insure the iLok for its hardware value and not include the value of the licences held on it, as this can cause a delay in Customs. A second email also arrived almost simultaneously, advising me of the potential total cost of$49.95 for the RMA and an estimated return shipping of $33.62.
I packaged up the iLok in bubble wrap and then into a padded envelope, labelled exactly as described on the RMA confirmation email including the RMA number, and set off to my local post office. Airsure seemed to meet the advice from PACE, as it is a tracked service.
Day 10: Eight days later I received an email from FedEx, advising me of the tracking number of a package from Pace.
Day 11: I received an email from Waves advising me that they had been informed by Pace that some of the licences on the broken iLok were Waves licences, and that they had reset the Waves Authorisations on the client’s Waves account so I could download the licences on to the new iLok when it arrived from Pace. The FedEx tracking system reported that the package was now in the UK.
Day 12: The replacement iLok arrived, with the non-Waves licences already on it: all had been replaced. The iLok was replaced free of charge under warranty and all charges had been waived. I logged onto ilok.com, registered the new iLok on the client’s iLok account, then moved onto the Waves site and downloaded the Waves licences from the client’s Waves account on to it as well.
Day 13: I returned the iLok to the client’s system, moved the appropriate plug-ins back into the proper plug-ins folder and checked that everything was back to normal.
We may all moan about iLoks but I have to give respect where it is due: Pace turned this iLok round incredibly quickly, even though the iLok was not covered by ZDT and when you consider there were two transatlantic trips in that period as well.
Example 2 - With ZDT
Day 1 - Friday: I went to use Pro Tools and as it booted up it complained it couldn’t find my licenses. I checked my iLok2 and the blue light wasn’t lit. I unplugged it, tried it in another uSB port but although the light flashed on & off a couple of times it didn’t stay on. Running the iLok software through my browser didn’t find the iLok. I re-installed all the iLok software and still no iLok. I then tried one of my other iLoks and that worked fine, and the iLok software found it fine. So I went to the Troubleshooting pages on the iLok.com web site and worked my way through submitting an RMA. In the process, I was asked if I wanted a complimentary replacement iLok and although the carriage wasn’t cheap from the US to the UK it was still cheaper than buying an iLok2 locally so I accepted the option. Once I completed the RMA and went back into my iLok account and PACE had already put 14 days licenses for everything that was on my faulty iLok into my account including all my Waves plug-ins. As well as having ZDT on my iLoks, I also keep a spare iLok2 ready for this situation so I was able to transfer all the temporary licenses onto my spare iLok and I was back up and able to work. From start to finish including all my fault finding it took less than an hour of down time. Later that day I packaged the faulty iLok up and sent it back to PACE in the US via a tracked and signed for service as recommended by PACE. I also received an email from FedEx advising me that they had shipped my replacement iLok.
Day 4 - Monday: My replacement iLok arrives.
Day 6 - Thursday: My iLok arrives at PACE in the US
Day 8 - Saturday: I receive an email from PACE advising me the following…
Hello Mike Thornton,
Your RMA xxxxxxxxx has been processed under warranty and the licenses recovered from your iLok have been replaced in your iLok.com account. These licenses are now available to be downloaded to the iLok of your choice.
If your iLok contained licenses that we are not authorized by the software company to replace, we have notified these companies of the licenses that were recovered so that they may replace them for you. These permanent replacement licenses have been deposited in your iLok.com account:
So I unplugged my spare iLok with the temporary licenses which had kept me working, opened my replacement iLok, plugged it in and logged into the ilok.com site. The site immediately recognised it was an unregistered iLok and asked me if I wanted to add it to my account. I agreed, and then it pointed out it wasn’t covered by ZDT, and did I want my new iLok covering. I bought the ZDT coverage for the new iLok for $30 and then transferred my 250 licenses across onto my new and ZDT covered iLok. Job done! This whole process included a weekend and the start of the Easter holiday so you cannot fail to be impressed with the service.
Why does the iLok have to go back?
The damaged iLok has to go back to PACE in the USA, so it can take some time for them to receive and analyse it, and PACE are not legally permitted by the Vendors to replace the licences without having done this. If your iLok is found to be damaged beyond repair or recognition so that PACE are unable to validate what licences are held on it, you will need to claim from your insurance company for the loss.
Is ZDT worth it?
If you can do without your system for around 2 weeks then probably not. But remember that anything that uses an iLok to run won’t work at all whilst your iLok is away at PACE being checked. So if that is too much of an inconvenience then ZDT is a no brainer. Look at the two real examples, no ZDT - 13 days out of action, with ZDT - 1 hour out of action and the cost $30 a year.
What happens if my iLok is lost or stolen?
If you are covered by ZDT and your iLok gets lost or stolen then PACE will still provide you with a set of two-week temporary licences. However they won’t be able to supply you with replacement full licences as there is no iLok to analyse to prove what was really on it. Under these circumstances you will need to contact each software manufacturer and plead your case with each one, as they have different policies on replacing lost licences. Obviously you will also need a new iLok, too, but that will probably be the least of your worries. So my advice is that you should insure your iLok for the value of all the software that it has licenses for and that could be thousands of dollars.