In this article, we are going to take a look at what you should do if an iLok is broken, lost or stolen. iLoks are incredibly valuable especially when you have a lot of software and plug-in licenses on them and so it is best to look after them carefully but when the unthinkable happens then this is what you should do....
Typically, if an iLok isn’t accessible, it won’t light up or the LED blinks or is intermittent. Whilst this can be the sign of a broken iLok, it may be another problem so there are several things to try first, which will also help to determine if the iLok is indeed broken.
Try the iLok in a different USB port on your computer. If it is plugged into a USB hub then first try a different port on the hub and then try bypassing the hub and plug the iLok directly into a USB port on your computer. If the iLok is connected to your computer via a USB lead, try a different lead. If you are using an iLok2 and the computer has USB3 ports then check out our story on what to do. It involves using a USB2 hub. However, the new iLok3s are fully USB3 compatible.
Use The iLok RMA Procedure
Once you have tried everything and the iLok is still not working, then you will need to start an RMA procedure with iLok themselves. The broken iLok will need to be sent back to iLok in the US. They have specialised diagnostic tools that enable them to access even very damaged iLoks to determine what licenses are on the broken iLok. They have to determine what licences were on the broken iLok to be able to arrange for replacement licenses to be issued by all the developers that you have iLok licenses for on the broken iLok, they cannot take your word for it or go on what is listed in your iLok account.
To begin the RMA process, click here, sign in, and follow the instructions that will be provided. A broken iLok needs to be sent to iLok so that they can recover your licenses from it and deposit replacements in your account. Your RMA order will include an option for a replacement iLok. However since they can't tell if your iLok is under warranty until they receive it, a credit card authorization is made to cover the cost of your order. But don’t worry, no fees will be collected until they receive and process your iLok and if your broken iLok was within the warranty period then you will not be charged for the replacement.
Lost Or Stolen
Existing users shouldn'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 and the 3rd generation iLok can hold 3 times as many again) as without it the software is useless because they will not function. iLoks are also small, which makes them 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 the case of loss or theft.
Avid’s Policy On Lost, Stolen Or Broken iLoks
Avid have a Knowledge Base document that outlines their policy on what they will or won’t do if an iLok is lost, stolen of broken.
Zero Down Time Recommended
If you are earning your living from iLok protected software then we strongly recommend that you take out ZDT (Zero Down Time) on each of your iLoks.
Setting up and running an account at iLok.com is free, but iLok also offers optional services that do have costs attached like Zero Down Time, which aims to keep your system up and running if you do lose or break an iLok.
With ZDT and TLC enabled: iLok can replace your licenses for you, whether the iLok is lost stolen or broken.
Without TLC enabled: if the iLok is lost or stolen, software publishers do not allow iLok to replace the licenses. You will need to work with them individually to receive replacement licenses. An RMA order is required, but there is no charge to place the report.
Is Zero Down Time Really Worth It?
So is it worth having ZDT? To help answer that, let me take you through two actual real examples that have happened to me. The first, from several years ago, where one of my clients didn’t have ZDT and the second which has just happened to me more recently 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 iLok software couldn’t see the iLok either. It was definitely a dead iLok!
Day 2: I logged into the client’s iLok account on ilok.com, and followed the instructions. iLok 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, and do complete all the checks listed above in this article, you have to start an ‘RMA process’, which involves sending it back to iLok in the US.
Once I had submitted the RMA, I received an email from iLok 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 arrived almost simultaneously, advising me of the potential total cost for the RMA and an estimated return shipping.
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 UK post office. Airsure seemed to meet the advice from iLok, 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 iLok.
Day 11: I received an email from Waves advising me that they had been informed by iLok that some of the licences on the broken iLok were Waves licenses 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 iLok. (this dates when this happened as Waves no longer use iLoks for software piracy protection). 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 the client's iLok account and registered the new iLok to 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: They 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 iLok had already put 14 days licenses for everything that was on my faulty iLok into my account. 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 downtime. Later that day I packaged the faulty iLok up and sent it back to iLok in the US via a tracked and signed for service as recommended by iLok. 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 iLok in the US
Day 8 - Saturday: I receive an email from iLok 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 my iLok account. The iLok was immediately recognised as an unregistered iLok and software 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.