The iLok dongle system is too unpredictable and therefore not reliable for live performance. I recently went thru terrible stress when, on a major production in New Zealand, the licenses of my iLok 2 weren't recognised anymore and moreover I couldn't open Logic X files using Sonnox plugins (at least to replace them with iZotope equivalents or else). I noticed that the plugins that can be transferred to my HD (GRM Tools, Flux, etc…) never failed whereas the Sonnox which cannot be transferred and requires the use of the physical iLok fail from time to time (and require internet connection to work again…). During a studio session you might spend a couple of hours to fix the problem but forget about it in live show/performance or in a place without internet connection.
I’ve read here and there advices about getting cracked versions of my plugins. What a ridiculous situation: I would have to use cracked versions of plugins for which I paid and own the license… How can the software industry let such thing happen? It is like they are paradoxically rewarding theft…
On the other hand, I never had problems with any challenge/response protection in over 20 years (Native Instruments, Ableton Live, iZotope, etc, etc…). So handy not having to plug a dongle when travelling a lot with a laptop (working in cars, trains, flights…) plus the risk of forgetting to take the dongle with me.
I wrote a letter to iLok and Sonnox support letting them know in details my awful experience and asking them to allow for HD transferable licenses for any plugins I paid for and for which I need a professional grade reliability (especially the Sonnox in my case): they didn’t get back to me as of today. In the meantime, I’ll stop using the plugins “locked" on the iLok for any professional work…
This item works as good as the generation 1 version. Where it exceeds it at is the build quality. It doesn't feel "cheap" as the old one did. This feels a lot stiffer, and more ready for the tough task that it wll need to handle. So it is definitely superior to the first generation model.
The smaller footprint also helps alot. It is not the big clunky USB key. It is actually the size of the other USB devices that I own, and the new color scheme with the blue LED light is just great, as it matches my USB hub. It also has a very nice glow to it when the lights are out.
I also used a sharpie to write in the area to distinguish my iLok, though I most likely won't have a lot with the expanded 500 slots for the licenses, allowing for future licenses on one iLok without the worry of running out of space. A huge plus, especially with the Waves bundles that is in my wishlist.
My only gripe is the cap. I wish there was some way to have the cap stay on the iLok, like maybe a string to keep it attach. Nothing to knock it for. This is probably the most excited I ever been about a device like this. But overall, its great and it serves its purpose. Don’t be fooled by other models, this is the best one. If you are using the first generation get rid of it and get this one. It looks a lot better and will make your set up look really nice and modern. So if you have god a lot of licenses and you don’t want to carry around multiple iLoks to all of your sessions. Just get this and it will take care of that problem for you in no time at all.
The Digidesign iLok is a simple device that is designed to prevent piracy with plug-ins and other software. You will need one of these to run most plug-ins in Pro Tools and in other DAW's. I've had one ever since I got Pro Tools a number of years ago, as it's absolutely necessary unless you're not going to run any outside plug-ins, which isn't going to be many people. You sync the iLok up with an online account that has all of your plug-in licenses on it. The iLok itself doesn't contain any software information other than the license itself, so if you want to use a plug-in on any given system that you have an authorization for on your iLok, you're going to need to install it there. I say this because it's not like you can just bring your iLok from place to place and run the plug-ins, as the software needs to be installed on any system where you want to use it. Generally I use my iLok with my lap top in my home studio, as I don't think I've ever used it on another system. Having said this, it's definitely possible to use it in different studios if the plug-ins you have are installed on there, but if they already are, chances are that the plug-in is already authorized with another iLok on site. The iLok costs about $40 US dollars, which isn't too bad I guess, but it's not really something that you have a choice in buying if you want to run plug-ins that require this, which is really the vast majority of plug-ins out there. There are a few companies that don't require you to use an iLok account, but all of the major ones do. If you're looking to get into the plug-in game, having an iLok is the first step...
I've had my iLok for a few years now. Its really more of an essential than a necessity as it is required for most of my plug-ins with Pro Tools 7 LE. Its great to have all of my authorizations in one spot and to be able to carry them around with me from my studio to other studios. However, if I were to lose it it would certainly be a hassle to be without my plug-ins for that amount of time. Its also a bit of a hassle to register and to set up all of the plug-ins with the iLok, but once it is done, it is done. There are no other models of the iLok that I know about, as Digidesign really sort of has a monopoly on it. Its pretty cheap and is definitely worth the money if you have a bunch of plug-ins that you need to travel with, or if it is required with plug-ins that you purchase. I couldn't function without mine simply because I need my plug-ins whenever I am doing work.