Another issue that’s not well publicised is that iLoks can have issues with USB3 ports on newer Macs. The fault can be replicated by unplugging the iLok after successfully using it, then plugging it back in again, after that, the iLok will light up but won’t be detected by any application that needs to access it (this is obviously more of a problem for laptop users). The workaround is to plug it in via a certified USB2 hub (even one of the ports on an Apple keyboard will do). As it stands, there is no fix, but hopefully it’ll get sorted in a future Apple update.
Now I have to admit I was sceptical about this, however Santa brought me a new MacBook Pro, well an Apple Refurb one actually) and I set it all up over the holiday. When it came to run Pro Tools, it complained that it couldn’t see the iLok. The iLok was lit up OK and I then remembered Ben’s comment and wondered if that was the same problem. Sure enough all the USB ports on my MacBook Pro are USB3.
I opened the License Manager but it wouldn’t see the iLok. But it showed up on the Apple System Information OK. Next I de-installed License Manager, installed the latest version, but my laptop iLok was still greyed out once I had signed in on the License Manager. I unplugged and replugged imy iLok and then the License Manager saw it, but I kept getting “Unexpected Errors” when I tried to do anything in License Manager including a Sync/Repair. Things were inconsistent, sometimes it would see the iLok, other times it wouldn’t, it was as if I had a dodgy iLok. The License Manager crashed out several times, sometimes the License Manger would see the iLok, but I got Unexpected Error messages when I tried to do anything. Other times the License Manager won’t see it, but Apple’s System Information always would see the iLok and the blue light was always stable. Also as soon as the iLok was unplugged the License Manager opened up fine and was stable.
To try and rule out the iLok, i tried it in my old laptop and everything worked fine. The license that I tried to transfer at one point with the new computer, reappeared after completing a Sync/Repair using the old computer, so it all pointed at something on the new laptop, presumably this USB3 issue.
I got in touch with the team at iLok, explained my experiences, and they confirmed what Ben had said and that the USB2 hub seems to be the best answer. Andrew Kirk went on to explain….
Apple’s USB3 ports sometimes have issues with USB2 devices. They have been addressing this through firmware updates. Make sure you don’t have any outstanding firmware updates (click the Apple in the upper left corner and select “Software Update”). If you have no outstanding firmware updates, try plugging a powered USB2 hub into your USB3 port.
The second-generation iLok is Certified as USB2 compliant. As such, it absolutely should work with all USB3 devices and ports, provided they have the proper level of support for USB2. The problem is, there are different layers of USB2 support in the various USB3 device drivers, and the newer drivers for a particular piece of hardware are more likely to support the proper calls than the older drivers are.
We do try to work with hardware manufacturers to assure that they support the certified and standard USB calls that iLok makes. However, this is dependent on knowing the devices that are consistently showing a problem, and of course on the manufacturer’s willingness to update the drivers.
I checked I was fully up to date, and then I dug out an old unpowered USB2 hub and it worked fine, in fact as you can see from the picture above I tried 3 iLoks all plugged in at once and all worked perfectly, so lets hope that iLok and Apple can resolve this sooner rather than later. In the meantime the work round is to plug a USB hub, even an unpowered one into a USB3 socket and plug your iLoks into the hub.