Old eLicenser USB-key and new PC

I own two eLicenser usb “dongles” which came, many years ago, when I bought two Steinberg products (Cubase SX and Hypersonic).

After a long time, I have recently renewed the hardware of my PC (new motherboard, CPU…) and I started having some problems with those dongles: sometimes they seem to “confuse” the USB controller (or maybe the operating system, Win10 in my case), which fails to correctly detect them, resulting in Cubase failing to start (with no error messages, just an endless wait) and the eLicenser Control Center trying and trying to read the dongle (SYNSOPOS.exe process starting and quitting again and again).
To unfreeze the situation I have to remove the dongle, kill all the involved processes, re-connect and try again, until eLCC finally “sees” the dongle and then lets Cubase start; after that (at least until now) Cubase runs normally throughout the whole working session.

Initially I thought that maybe the dongle was defective (the coincidence with the switch to the new hardware would have been a bit strange, though) and so I transferred both my licenses to the other dongle (which I kept as a spare), but nothing changed: sometimes, with no apparent reason, the problem occurs.
I also tried using USB2 ports instead of USB3 ones, with no results.

Moreover, I have just upgraded my SX license to a Cubase Pro 11 one and everything went well: eLCC accepted the new activation code and flawlessly upgraded the license, thus proving that my dongles are actually compatible with the latest eLCC releases and also with the most recent Cubase licenses. In fact Cubase 11 runs perfectly… apart from the times when it struggles to start due to the above.

So I came up with a suspicion: maybe the firmware of the old “long” dongles has some incompatibility problems with current PCs ?
Can such a hypothesis make sense?
If so, is there a way to update that firmware?

I have an old long dongle from SX days on an old XP machine from 2000, upgraded to Cubase 11 recently, and am using it on a new(ish) 17-7700 Win 10 machine along with Wavelab 6.
I’ve had zero problems in the last couple of months.

I also had a Cubase license on an old, long dongle. It worked fine on my desktop PC but led to random dropouts on my laptop. Cubase frequently stopped working there during a session because it suddenly wasn’t able to detect the dongle any longer. Really annoying. After transferring the license to a new, short dongle the issues went away. I don’t know if the old dongle was defective or if the model just works less reliably on newer machines.
A colleague with similar issues was able to fix them too by replacing the long dongle with a short one.

Back in the SX days, originally the dongle I had was a short one and if I remember correctly, there was a debate about replacing it with a new longer one that was more robust and worked better.
That’s how I ended up with the long dongle, now seems like things are going backwards and a short one is recommended :laughing:

I recently bought a new short one for backup purposes so I’m prepared for future needs, but I suspect the dongle will become a thing of the past soon and I’ll have 2 dongles for collecting dust bunnies !

1 Like

What do you mean, Paul, with
“I recently bought a new short one for backup purposes” ?
How can a dongle be used for backup purposes?

I guess I could solve my problem too by buying a new (short) dongle, but I don’t like the idea of buying another (third) dongle when I actually have already two of them (and I only need one).

By backup I mean if I lose my dongle ( like I did with my original one ) I have a spare .
I know you can’t actually use another dongle for backup by having a license on 2 dongles, but in case I did lose my current one, I wouldn’t be stuck with having to order a new one.
I can use my second dongle to put my Wavelab or Cubase LE on it if I wanted to, and keep the Cubase 11 license on the current one.
I’m just hoping when Steinberg implements the new licence system, it will still be possible to use their products on more than one machine like I currently do.

I well understand your point, Paul.
Mine is exactly the same: having two dongles, originally bearing one license each (Cubase SX and Hypersonic), many years ago I placed both the licenses inside one dongle and put the other one safely aside, ready to take over if needed.

Now, however, should both my dongles turn out to be too “old” and not upgradeable (firmware), I would find myself in the paradoxical situation of having to buy a new dongle not because of an hardware failure but only because of a software issue, which almost certainly could be solved by an update and which, anyway, is not due to some lack on my part.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I think that if such a situation were to be confirmed it would be up to Steinberg to provide their (old and… loyal) “high-end” customers with a free of charge suitable solution.

I recommend you buy a new dongle and transfer all your licenses to that dongle. It is well documented on this forum that the new dongle performs much better.

as was the case for myself. startup times for Cubase are significantly faster among the benefits of using 20€ on a new dongle

I’m pretty sure those old ones will be running at USB 1. speeds.

They actually appear to be USB1.1 compliant.
There is no reason, actually, for an USB1 device to run slower when connected to an USB2 port. It is not expected to run faster, but it should definitely run at the same speed. Besides, also my previous PC had USB2 ports and the dongles did not have any problems there.

Anyway, the… song remains the same: it is quite unfair, in my opinion, to make the customer pay for a “fault” he has nothing to do with. I understand paying for a new dongle when the old one gets lost or broken (on the user’s side), but I don’t like being forced to buy a new license protection device (which is of no benefit to me but only serves the software manufacturer) when I already have two of them, both regularly paid.
Moreover, the Steinberg Shop Cubase Pro 11 page reads:

USB-eLicenser required (Unit price: 22,99 €).*
If you already own one, you can delete it from the shopping cart.

There clearly is no mention about the need for the USB-eLicenser to be “new”.
They just say “If you already own one, and that is the only information on which the customer can rely when deciding to order or not.

I know that 23€ is not a big amount, but even a single € can be “too much” when perceived as wrong.

if you don’t want the latest greatest that is your choice. Do you really expect hardware to be up-to-date with current standards after 15 years in the computer world? I got my first Nuendo dongle in 2004, I didn’t change it until 2018. 23 € was a small price to pay after all that time to notice new and improved speeds

I’d like to point out that I’m not trying to argue in any way.
I just want to explain my personal opinion, which relates to a matter of principle, of commercial correctness. Maybe a little thing from a cost point of view, but more significant from others.

One thing is paying for the “latest greatest” in useful software, other thing is paying two (or more) times for something that is useful only to the software vendor. If I decide to use an old version of Cubase that is obviously my choice and, rightfully so, I will be prevented from taking advantage of all the new features. If I decide to upgrade to the latest version I obviously have to pay for it, as much as the vendor wants me to pay. In return I get permission and ability to use the latest and most powerful features.
This is indeed true, as it should be, for any commercial product.

The fact is that here we are not talking about THE product as such (a DAW software to produce music with). We are talking, instead, of an accessory piece of hardware/software which is useful only to the vendor and does not add any functionality to the product itself.
I don’t expect “new and improved speeds”. I don’t expect an USB1.1 device to run at USB2 or USB3 speeds. I just expect it to run at its own usual USB1 speeds, just like any other old USB devices when connected to brand new USB port.
Sadly, apparently, these “old” USB-licencers do not behave in that way, because when connected to newer PCs they tend to run much slower than their usual and they also, from time to time and with no apparent reason, loose their connection with eLCC, causing Cubase to stop running during a working session. Which for a paying customer is hardly bearable.

Moreover, the notice in the Steinberg Shop is quite misleading, because it clearly says that if you already have one USB-licenser you don’t “need” to buy another one. Which is quite significant for those who want to buy an upgrade. There is no mention whatsoever about possible speed or connection/stability problems.
Maybe I’m just a dreamer, but I think that a big company like Steinberg could easily, with very little effort, support its older customers (probably not so many) by spontaneously fixing this issue, providing suitable firmware upgrades or some way to substitute older dongles with new ones.
Or, less noble but at least unequivocal, by explaining very clearly, in the newer products “requirements”, that a NEW USB-licenser (with unambiguous image attached) is needed, thus avoiding unpleasant surprises.

Have to agree with you Marco :+1:
I’ve never had a problem with the old dongle, never noticed a speed reduction in running the C11 and Wavelab, in fact I did transfer my licenses from the old dongle to a new one recently, only difference I noticed was a quicker loading speed of C11, about 5 seconds total compared to about 8 seconds for the old one.
No difference in the actual running of the program that I could tell, maybe that could change with a large project, but I doubt that the dongle should impact that, it’s only supposed to be for copy protection.
Like I said before, all this will hopefully be moot when the new license system is in place.

Have you got any idea (or information), Paul, about the new license system you mentioned?
As you can imagine, I’m quite interested about that.
Should it it be software-based and come relatively soon, I’d have a good reason to try holding on, for the time being, with my old and “slow” dongles.
It would be very… unpleasant, in fact, to buy a third dongle and then discover, perhaps in just a few months later, that all my three dongles become superfluous. :slightly_smiling_face:

PS. I questioned Customer Support about this issue and they said there is absolutely NO incompatibility at all between old USB-eLicensers and newer PCs and that, therefore, any possible issues or malfunctions must be attributed to the “aging” of the dongles (no matter if actually used or kept in a drawer). Which seems a bit in contradiction with my personal experience, since the dongles behave “badly” only when connected to my new PC (I also tried with another recent PC, to verify), while if I connect them to my previous PC, 10 years older, they work great. Maybe, who knows, it’s just a matter of tangled coincidences.

Here is the official statement from Steinberg about the new licensing system. They haven’t communicated any date when it will be introduced. There are, however, some rumors and speculations in the Dorico forum that it might be coming together with the Dorico 4 update expected later this year.
According to the available information, the system doesn’t require a dongle any longer, i.e. it’s entirely software-based. I’m not sure if it needs an Internet connection to frequently check the validity of the license. This would definitely be a problem with many studio computers that are not connected to the Internet.

Many thanks for the quite interesting link.
While reading statements such as:

“An authorization system shouldn’t get in your way, but support you in the onboarding process … shouldn’t restrict you as the customer … shouldn’t stop you from using your products … The future will be dongle-free.”

one can hardly be disappointed!
Those official statements, moreover, sound like fully confirming the actual existence of “problems” regarding the whole… dongle affair.

Let’s hope the mentioned “future” is not too far and let’s hope also, as you rightly pointed out, that the developers of the forthcoming brand new license management system don’t make the mistake of assuming a constant Internet connection.
Not only because there would be the risk of replacing one hardware-based “annoyance” with a software-based one but also because, especially nowadays, one of the simplest and safest methods to reduce IT security risks consists precisely in staying disconnected whenever the connection is not strictly necessary. A situation that is very common when making music with a DAW. Not to mention, as you rightly said, all those situations when a DAW is needed and an Internet connection is not available.

In the advanced energy settings for windows, there is a setting where you can disable power saving on usb ports, also possible from device manager. This could be the cause of your symptoms. The dongle is used very little and it is possible the os turns it off and is then to slow to react. My old long dongle works fine on win10 with this setting.
Also if you are using a usb3 port try a usb2 and all ports. Sometimes a usb hub fixes the issue. In my experience this is mostly caused by the motherboard/bios.

1 Like

Very good advice.

Thanks vinark for your advice.
Sadly I did not benefit from disabling power saving on usb ports. Also USB2 ports seem unable to help.
I am inclined to believe that the problem is related to recent motherboards and firmwares.

I also noticed that most of the time the problem arises only when opening projects which use license-protected VST Instruments (Halion Sonic, Groove Agent).
In other words: Cubase starts flawlessly but then it freezes while loading those VST instruments. So I have to remove the dongle, click on all the license-related error messages, close the project (without saving), close Cubase (which usually closes without complaints), re-plug the dongle and start all over again…

As to using an usb hub, I also think that maybe it could help (especially if USB1), but I don’t have any; at that point, instead of spending money on a hub I could directly buy a new (short) dongle…

As to the new license management system, which has recently been announced and will debut, as far as Cubase is concerned, with release 12 (there will be no Cubase 11.5, it seems), dongles will be actually dismissed and the license check (product “activation” ) will be performed online, without however requiring a constant connection to the Internet.

Sadly, apparently, the new system will not be retroactive and therefore all “older” products will continue to need the dongles (which, by the way, will not be produced or sold by Steinberg any more).

So it seems that anyone wanting to get rid of dongles will find himself somehow… invited to purchase upgrades. :slightly_smiling_face: