I have been using Nuendo since 2000 and I know some users share the same thoughts about the USB Dongle. We now make music anywhere with a laptop, or on a desktop, everywhere in the world. The new “no downtime” feature is interesting but it does not resolve anything. You still need another Dongle to register and copy your licenses. Where Am I going to find a dongle if I am in the middle of Asia for example working on the soundtrack of a film ?
How many times I forgot my dongle on my desktop and I just realized that I can’t work anymore unless I go back to my studio.

Can Steinberg work on something a little more professional that something that is so antiquated ?

I hope there will be something coming soon like Native Instruments does.



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At most I’ve done about 50% of my paid work on Nuendo during a time period of about 6 months. That’s over years and years of working with the most amount of time spent on Pro Tools. Still, even knowing that at this point I’m most likely to do at least 80% of my work in Pro Tools I just bought another dongle. It’s $35. 35. That’s pretty much “nothing”.

So I have to say that I think your objection above about finding a dongle “in the middle of Asia” is just… not seeing the larger picture. If you’re doing this for a living you can average out those $35 over the amount of time one dongle lasts you. I’m still on my first.

Ok, so if you’re using a laptop for example what you can do is print out an “items list” on a piece of paper and just put that on the back of your laptop or inside your laptop back or whatever. When you leave the studio you just read item by item off the list and make sure you seem them all in the bag.

I too have forgotten dongles, mostly my iLok, but I can count the amount of times on my one hand. This is really a first-world problem that can be easily solved without ‘advanced’ technology.

I think having an option would be nice. I honestly don’t mind the option to be able to work without a dongle, but I also have no problem with dongles.

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I feel your pain, as do many others. We’ve been bringing this up for a long time; there have been hints from Timo here that SB is working on an alternative. I don’t understand is why Nuendo can’t/won’t use the soft e-licenser like some of the other products do. And if that particular solution is impractical for whatever reason, yes, it is high time Steinberg came up with a better option.

I work with Nuendo on the road almost weekly. In regards to keeping this latest one from falling apart (I’ve been through 4 in the last 5 years) I’ve just graduated from tape to Gorilla Glue. I would love to get my USB port back, too… not to mention the profile issue when working in cramped conditions or on planes. The dongle does not do well when impacted by a busy flight attendant or fidgety row-mate. It’s hard on the computer, too.

I purchased Cubase Elements in order to work dongle-free, and within its limits it’s been useful. But I do my final output in Nuendo, and that often has to be done on the road… not to mention location recording into previously-existing Nuendo projects. So more often than not, the dongle has to come along.

First-world problem? You bet. It’s great to be able to pack a recording studio in a laptop bag. So… let’s make it better, with some first-world solutions.


The day SB goes a route like N.I. is the day I bought my last SB software.
The dongle is absolutely fine with me.


Save Steinberg from torrents and cracked heads


I’m not probably ever going to update my cubase from 9.5 if they wont get rid of this damn dongle

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I’m not using my expensive Nuendo because of the dongle system. I use Logic pro X instead. Thought of upgrading from Nuendo 7 to 8 now but then realised. Why? I will never use it. because I HATE the dongle. It sticks out from my laptop very easy to break the USB port just by accident. If I sit with it one a table and someone passes too close, it could be over. On top of that just too often there are problems with the dongle. I have to repair the license almost every time. Then I need to have an internet connection which is more than possible just too often. The dongle system makes Steinberg lose clients. I’m one of them. I always used nuendo before when I could find a working substitute version. Once upon a time you could find dongle-free versions of the software, then it was usable, but now… NO!!. Logic´s the answer. The dongle is also just too easy to loose. Can’t the e-licence be programmed into the computer instead. At least as an option. If you always use the same computer it should work. The idea of using many dongles is not that great either because then I will have to have an internet connection. Not always possible. Really!

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I think there are plenty reasons to bury the dongle.

First, for me, my project life cannot be planned like that. I work in the studio, in my home office only doing planning and concepts, do other types of projects i don’t need Nuendo for, teach at university. And suddenly, a client needs something while I’m in the train to somewhere. And I cannot even open the project to look at it cause I didn’t anticipate to have the dongle with me. Always having it with me is a recipe for disaster. If I start carrying the dongle with me all the time, then I leave it at home in the backpack that I decided I didn’t need today, so on the road in the train I don’t have it with me either, spontaneously. After coming back, I might go directly to the studio but then don’t have it there. I don’t know if you tried to open the laptop in a crammed train and then plug things into its USB ports: People bump it when getting in and out of their seats, harddisks with project data fall and dangle from the usb cable, it’s a nightmare. And of course, one dongle isn’t enough. I have to take the eLicenser AND the iLok with me. Two things that can get broken, get lost, get left somewhere on the table, in a USB hub or in the backpack that I just happen to NOT have with me. Everything that can be left where it is, in a safe place, is good. Or not requiring it at all is even better.

This is what theeLicenser FAQ page has to say “…keep in mind that losing an USB-eLicenser can mean losing the software!” - yeah, no thanks!

Other software packs manage to do it without a dongle. I can start Logic and Reaper wherever I want. I never have issues because the software says I need to connect to the server when I’m in a place that has no internet. Never had that once. It can be done.

Meanwhile I really try to avoid any software that needs hardware dongles. My opinion is, hardware dongles are not good for me as consumer. It’s to protect the vendor from piracy. That is not MY problem. I recognize the problem but it’s not mine. I buy my software, I spend the money. My problem is that I cannot open the software I bought on many occasions throughout my work week and it really annoys me. And I’m not ready to carry around even more things on a regular basis in addition to phone, keys, wallet.

All because the vendors want to insure themselves from piracy - by requiring their honest users to always take multiple dongles with them, keep track of them, download dongle software centers anyway, update those dongle centers, perform maintenance tasks once in a while, and require them NOT to lose them. In short, by inconveniencing their paying customers. They even sell insurance for the problem THEY created by using hardware dongles. iLok Zero Downtime for example. In order to immediately get temp licenses you of course need a spare dongle lying around. Key management is just not something I want to do in addition to all the other computer maintenance and bug hunting stuff after Windows updates. I got enough of that already. I enjoy grooming my computer, but dongles, in my opinion, require to be faded out and replaced with something better.

Anyway, Timo already said they’re working on solutions, but they’re still a bit out. Let’s see what they come up with.

To be fair; if you can use Logic instead of Nuendo then perhaps Nuendo wasn’t for you in the first place, and Cubase would have been better.

As for breaking dongles when using a laptop: Use a USB ‘extension’ to get the dongle behind the laptop instead (or below/lap or whatever).


Thank you Chris for putting into words what i have been thinking for long.
It’s not fair to unload SB’s piracy problem unto us users.

Friend of mine uses Logic. No dongle, no problems.

And who forced you to use Cubase?

And who forced you to use Cubase?

i’m just pointing out that other companies seem to be able to go without dongles.
and so should SB.

Thanks for the suggestion; I’ve done this for years. However, In the long term, and under any number of the conditions under which I work, it’s an inelegant workaround. I’m looking forward to what seeing what Timo hinted at some time ago in regards to something that doesn’t tax the often limited spatial and i/o resources of a mobile working environment.


Why do so many LIKE the dongle?
I can understand “I don’t mind it”, but if a dongle-free Cubase with good crack protection etc. becomes real then why would you prefer the dongle?
Is it something about required internet connection? (and is that not needed when using the dongle?)

If you have a bunch of plugins and you have them dongle-authorized then a system failure where you then later reinstall everything (assuming you couldn’t rebuild from a clone/image) - or if you need to upgrade and can’t easily move software ‘across’ with authorizations - then it’s way easier with a dongle. Just install the management software for the iLok / eLicenser and you’re good. With software/serial number authorized stuff you often have to go through a million steps to get it re-authorized.

Likewise, if I go out and work in a studio (post-production) I’ll bring my iLok with me with Exponential Audio’s Phoenixverb Surround as well as iZotope RX. So I’m never without those two and all it takes is an install and then plugging in the dongle.

I find it to be easy and convenient and less to think about than moving authorizations around via software or a web interface.


This dongal thing is losing the steinberg customers, also I am loosing my work. Please refund it, and I will go with some other DAW like logic.

I recently had a major malfunction with my laptop… and had the motherboard replaced.

This meant that any and all plug in licenses were gone.

Good thing: All the plug in companies were able to cancel my old licenses tied to my old motherboard. Waves offers a once a year free license reset, for these types of issues. Arturia offers a license deactivation on their user area on their website, so those two were easy. I have the rest as either iLok or online activation, so it only took a few hours at most to get back up and running.

Bad thing: If you have a plug in manufacturer that does not offer this type of service, you are screwed, or you at least have a sometimes days long process to restore your licenses. This happened to me years ago, and was horrible.

I hope Steinberg does offer something similar to Waves and other companies like Avid and Arturia, where they have a permanent record online in their database of your activation licenses, and that they implement an easy reset system for us users. Otherwise it could be a nightmare for anyone having a motherboard replacement (which is essentially replacing with a new computer serial number, even if it is physically the same computer) this could be bad news.

So as of now, I am on the fence as to completely replacing the dongle as a protection device.

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Sorry to burst your bubble guys, How exactly would you go about protecting the software? Do you think it’s so simple to protect software only with a software layer? The whole reason why Steinberg and the likes use a physical device is because it is much more protected, and much harder to duplicate. The whole reason Steinberg exists is because of that e-licenser otherwise the whole product line would have been cracked and would have severely crippled the companies incomes.
Would you prefer to drop the elicenser and also drop Steinberg as well? because that’s exactly what you are proposing.

David Bendayan.


I prefer dongle. It’s worse with the idiotic terms & conditions that it’s only possible to install/activate the software on X amount of machines. I had three computers for a while. It was a nightmare since most manufacturers of software & samples only allow 2 installations.

Even if dongle is a hazzle, it’s better that I can choose where and when to use my software as I please.

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As a matter of fact I try to avoid software (especially plug-ins) that come without the option for hardware-based copy protection. It’s a major PITA when you work in different studios all the time like I do when there’s no pandemic. :sunglasses: