Your iLok can be worth more than it's weight in gold if you have a lot of software licenses on it. Looking after it and protecting it should be a high priority but we so often don't give it a second glance. In this article, we are going to look at a number of options to consider. There are two key issues to consider when protecting your iLok and these are...
- Preventing it from getting damaged or broken
- Preventing it from being stolen
As you will see from some of the solutions preventing theft and damage are necessarily mutually exclusive. Let's start with preventing damage...
Preventing An iLok From Being Damaged Or Broken
Just plugging an iLok 1 or iLok 2 into a USB socket means the iLok is vulnerable to damage from knocks and bangs as especially on laptops is stuck out on the side or rear and so is very susceptible to impact damage which can mean the iLok is snapped off.
iLok Dongle Buddy - The easiest way to prevent this is not to plug the iLok directly into the computer but to use a short USB extension cable. You can get them from many sources including iLok themselves who offer their iLok Buddy.
Fit the iLok Inside The Computer - If you have a tower computer then you have a number of options. Use a short USB lead, note the iLok buddy is too short for this, plug one end into a USB socket on the back and then thread the cable back inside the computer through a convenient slot and then attach the iLok with a cable tie and plug it into the other end of the USB extension lead.
PC computer users could consider using a USB PCI slot to internal USB connection adaptor and remove one, or both USB sockets off the slot plate and so plug the iLok into a completely internal USB socket. This option is not available to Mac users as Apple motherboards don't offer internal USB connections. These solutions also will help to prevent your iLok from being stolen as the iLok is also no longer visible.
Mount The iLok In A Box - This solution can take a number of forms, DIY or commercial products. Roklocker is a commercial solution that has just come back on the market which is designed to reduce the chance of your iLok being damaged by housing it in between hard foam, inside a polycarbonate enclosure to protect against your iLok being dropped, snapped, stepped on, or the occasional tea and coffee tidal waves. A 3 metre USB extension cable is included with every Roklocker purchased. More of these in the next section.
Preventing An iLok From Being Stolen
Mount The iLok In A Box - Although the Roklocker is designed to protect your iLok from being damaged, it doesn't really help on the stolen option. However, there are solutions that use a box to protect your iLok from being stolen.
Using A Steel Cash Box - Pro Tools Expert team member Julian Rodgers in part 3 of his Studio Security In Educational Institutions article recommends a different solution. His preferred solution is to buy steel cash boxes, screw them to the underside of the furniture and to run a USB cable through a slot cut in the box out to the computer. This solution works well for computer lab environments and multiple iLoks from multiple computers can be housed in a single cash box.
Using A Flash Drive Safe - This comes from a small UK company called Creation Security and I came across this on Ebay. It has been designed for home or office use to protect your USB devices and iLok USB keys and can bolt onto a desk, worktop or to the rear of a monitor using a VESA mount.
It features a hinged lid with a high-security lock, designed to keep your USB devices safe and secure - particularly important for high value iLok USB keys.
Use a Diecast Box And A Bolt Lock - We have featured one solution from community members Neil Martin & Fred Brown who designed a solution intended for computer labs to protect an iMac and an iLok. It uses a diecast box for the iLok and security bolt that passes through the iLok box, the iMac base and the desk and then is secured with a padlock under the desk. You can read Neil and Fred's instructions in full in our Tip For iLok Security In Computer Lab From Neil Martin & Fred Brown article.
Using A Key Safe - These are little metal boxes that are made to hold keys, with a combination lock, but some of them are big enough to fit an iLok. You will need to drill a hole big enough to get a USB extender cable through but not big enough for the iLok to pass through. and run a USB extender into it. The loop in the key safe can hook onto your standard "loop" security things most school labs have.
Move The iLok Away From The Computer - By this, we mean into another room or even another building. As long as you have a network connection it is now possible to have all your iLoks in a secure room attached to a central device and each computer checks fro the iLok over the network rather than looking locally at USB connections.
VirtualHere - Team member Alan Sallabank covered VirtualHere, which is one solution. If you have an Arm / Linux based NAS server, third party developers can write plug-ins or apps for these systems, which work across a wide range of manufacturers. These can range from DVB TV recorders and servers to Website hosting, to automated off-site backup, to Antivirus protection.
VirtualHere Server is an app on your NAS system that allows you to plug your USB devices into your NAS, then present them to your network attached computer, as if they were connected locally. Only one of you can have any USB device at a time - you can't share them though, but "plugging and unplugging" your USB is done through an app that runs in the background on your computer - Windows, Mac or Linux.
If you want to know more you can read exactly how to set this up in Alan's article VirtualHere - How To Use iLok, Waves Key And Other Licences Over Networks.
iLok Network Licensing - PACE the company behind iLok have added a feature to the iLok system that supports network licenses. Network iLok Licenses are special licenses can be shared across your local network and software publishers like Avid that use iLok, now have the option to provide users with a special type of license that may be shared across your local network. You can use the iLok License Manager to configure your networked computer to act as a server and share these licenses to other computers on your network. There are varying levels of privacy supported so that you can make your network private or public. Network licenses are ideal for classrooms and large businesses that require a robust license sharing system.
Note that only special network licenses with more than one seat assigned can be shared on a network and each software developer has to make their licenses available in network form so it maybe some time before this is in common usage.
What Do I Do If My iLok Is Lost, Damaged Or Stolen?
If your iLok Is Broken, Lost Or Stolen, then check out our detailed article on this.
- We cover in detail what fault finding to do if your iLok appears not to be working,
- How to go about using The iLok RMA Procedure once you have established the iLok is broken
- Avid’s policy on Lost, Stolen Or Broken iLoks,
- What you get when you take out the iLok Zero Downtime cover.