If you have never used an iLok before you will need to buy an iLok, create a free iLok account and transfer the iLok license onto your iLok or computer. Existing Pro Tools owners with Pro Tools 9 and above will have had to set up an iLok account and own an iLok as the Pro Tools Software is protected by an iLok license that is required to be on an iLok license.
New Pro Tools owners and anyone that hasn't got an iLok are advised to follow the instructions in this guide. This guide will also help if you have received an activation code from a software publisher.
What is an iLok?
If you haven’t seen one before, an iLok is a small device that you plug into any USB port on your computer. It looks like a USB memory stick but it isn’t a memory stick, it is a special device for that holds licenses for software products that use the iLok system to protect their software.
A 3rd generation iLok can now store up to 1500 separate licenses whereas a 2nd generation iLok can hold 500 licenses and the original 1st generation iLok can hold up to 118 licenses. You can have licenses from many different software publishers on the same iLok, as well as multiple iLoks connected to a computer to help you manage your iLok licenses.
The protected 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.
More and more software publishers require a 2nd or 3rd generation iLok. For example with Pro Tools 11 and above you need a 2nd or 3rd generation iLok.
You also may find green or red versions of the 1st generation iLoks. The difference is purely cosmetic; there are no differences in their functionality. Note that the 2nd generation iLoks are often referred to as an iLok2 and the 3rd generation as an iLok3.
How do I get an iLok account?
Go to the iLok website. Complete the form, being very careful to get all the details, especially your email address, User ID and password correct, otherwise, you will not be able to access your account.
Make sure your user ID isn’t your email address or use your first name if it is going to be a company account.
Take care to set up the verification process carefully as you will need this information if you change your email address and you have forgotten your iLok user id and password, to regain access to your iLok account.
Don’t create another iLok account, just because you forgot your user ID or password on your existing account. Creating a new account will not give you access to your old account and you will end up with multiple accounts, which is not recommended.
Where can I buy an iLok from?
Most audio dealers will sell iLoks either from their stores or online. You can also buy iLoks direct from iLok themselves or if you are in Europe check out Sonic8 as it may be cheaper when you include the shipping.
Do I need to buy an iLok?
If you have software that is protected by an iLok license, you will almost certainly need an iLok, unless the iLok license can be machine authorised, which is rare.
A lot of software publishers choose to use the iLok system to protect their software against piracy. If the software you want to buy uses an iLok, then you will need to purchase an iLok. iLoks rarely come included with the software, unless a software publisher chooses to bundle one as part of an offer. The only time where a software publisher uses the iLok system, and you don't need an iLok is where they permit the license to be authorised to a computer, rather than onto an iLok. This tends to be for lower value software as computer, or machine authorisations, are less secure.
Will I need to install any additional software to use my iLok?
Yes, you will. To use an iLok and manage your licenses you will need to install the free iLok License Manager on each computer, and you can download it from the iLok website. The iLok License Manager requires one of the following operating systems:
- For Mac: Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) or above
- For Windows 32-bit or 64-bit: Windows 7 or above
Now I have installed the iLok License Manager, what now?
You will need to link (or register) your iLok to your free iLok account. Connect the iLok to your computer. The iLok will be displayed with a grey icon:
Right click on the iLok in the left-hand list, and select Register iLok to Your Account. When registered, the iLok will be displayed with a black icon:
You may wish to rename this iLok to describe its use. To do so, just right click on the iLok in the left-hand list, and select Rename/Edit. A short description can also be added here if desired. The iLok is now registered to your account, and iLok licenses in your cloud-based iLok account can now be moved onto your iLok.
I have bought software that is iLok protected, what do I need to do to use the software?
Once you have a free iLok account, downloaded and installed the iLok License manager software, registered your iLok to your iLok account, you now need to get the iLok license from the software publisher onto your iLok.
There are two ways software publishers provide you with a license. Firstly, they can deposit a license directly into your iLok account. They only need your iLok User ID to do this, do not under any circumstances give them your iLok account password, they do not need it to deposit a license into your iLok account. Secondly, they can provide you with an iLok activation code. You can then enter this code into the iLok License Manger software and redeem your license.
Either way, once the iLok license is in your iLok account in the cloud you will then need to use the iLok License Manager software to transfer your iLok license from your iLok account in the cloud onto your iLok. Then you just need to make sure that iLok is plugged into the computer you want to use the software on.
What is an iLok activation code?
When you buy software that is iLok protected, one of the ways software publishers can deliver you the iLok license, is to provide you with an iLok activation code, which you use in conjunction with the iLok License Manager to put an appropriate license into your iLok Account.
How do I use Activation Code?
Make sure you have a free iLok account and an iLok. The activation code is made up of 30 numbers in this format 1234-5678-9012-3456-7890-1234-5678-90 and will be sent to you by the software publisher you bought the plug-in or software from. It will not come from iLok.
It can come as either a weblink or as a string of 30 numbers as above. If it is a string of numbers you can redeem the code using the iLok License Manager. There is a code icon in the top right corner of the iLok License Manager window. Click this button and once you are signed in you will be able to paste the entire activation code in one go.
Next, you decide where you want the license to be dropped. If you select your account the license will be added to your iLok account in the cloud. You will then have to transfer the license to an iLok (or machine if the software publisher permits this option).
If you select one of the iLoks in your account the license will be put straight onto the selected iLok in one go. Then as long as that iLok is plugged into your computer the protected software will run.
Can I use iLok protected software on more than one computer?
The short answer is yes, as long as the iLok license is on an iLok rather than being machine authorised, you can install the software on as many computers as you like. However, the software will only run on the computer that has the iLok plugged into it, with the right license on the iLok.
Get A Buddy
Especially if you are using an iLok on a laptop then get an iLok Buddy which is a very short USB extension cable. One of the main causes of iLok damage is from iLok plugged into the side of a laptop that gets knocked or worse.
In the next article in this series, we will be looking in greater detail how to use the iLok License Manager Software.