Steinberg Licensing - Deactivate License on specific Computer

Hi there,

I have the following Problem:

Cubase 12 Pro license is valid for three computers

  • Activated on my main machine (PC 1)
  • Activated on a friends Macbook Pro for testing and uninstalled it afterwards, not deactivated (PC 2) - currenty no access to that machine
  • Activated on my second machine (PC2)


After I upgraded RAM on PC2 and did a clean install of Windows 10 I cannot activate Cubase anymore. It seems like Steinberg thinks it is a new machine because the RAM upgrade. Unfortunately I have not deactivated it in the Activation Manager before that.

It seems like there is no way of deactivating a license remotely from My Steinberg account or so. So that means if you don’t have access to a certain machine it the state in which the license has been activated, you cannot deactive it anymore.

I have send a support ticket to Steinberg. Hopefully they can fix that. But I think it would be great if there is an option in your online account to manage devices yourself.



I have just started a ticket for a similar reason, there seems to be no way to deactivate a computer from the steinberg website
I sold a machine so want to free up a license slot

This is by design.

Initially, Steinberg licensing was set to phone home every 30 days. Then there was a forum outcry. Now it does not phone home. But there is a problem with never phoning home…

If you were able to de-activate a licence on-line you could, in theory, activate Cubase on a few “friends” computers, then de-activate these on-line to free up more licences and carry on indefinitely. Each “friend” would then be able to run Cubase.

So, Steinberg have, quite understandably, put in some checks to avoid that.


I understand that this is by design, but I have just finished replacing my main PC and for some reason I am told that all three licences have been used when I have actually only used 2. Unfortunately, my old PC is now in bits so I can’t deactivate from that PC. I have raised a ticket with Steinberg 4 days ago but no response other than the usual ‘we’ll be back in touch soon’. Glad I’m not working to a deadline.

Understood…but well thought out plans tend to win.
eg Brainworx.

It allows (depending) 3 licenses. You simply log into your account, deactivate devices/plugs, open up your DAW and reactivate…simple as that

Why is the ID not tied to something more static like a MAC address…so that the slightest change doesnt upset the ID?

I am in a similar situation where I had lighting wipe a machine and used a temp machine until I sorted a new one. Now I have had to make some hardware changes, have no access to the originals here and I have to say Steinberg have to get a new agent in Australia. They DO NOT ANSWER EMAILS with crap about covid and delays when I try phone support

Im pretty upset by it; this pays some of my wages and now Im tied up.

How can I just get Steinberg to deactivate all of them and I just start again or put in a better system like Brainworx which is decent. I actually preferred the dongle tbh

Waves…-#@@#$%…dont start me hehe

So now what do I do? Can contact Australian support and no way to speak to Steinberg themselves and have jobs in the queue?

I have just logged a ticket on the website…but of course that says handled by local distributor…I simply want all my C12 licenses reset.

While understandable, it really sucks. The best thing about eLicenser and iLok is you never have to worry about losing activations when switching between computers or reformatting/upgrading an existing PC. They’re simply always there. The moment Steinberg announced this change I feared we might be in a situation like this, where we can now very easily lose our activations, and have to rely on Steinberg support to help us, with no guarantees.


Well, I agree.

If one looks through these forums one will see that “Contact Steinberg Support” can be as fruitful as saying “Contact the wizard of Oz”.


We must have an option to deactivate it from our account.
Legal users should not be penalized by things like that.

When I first installed Cubase 12 I activated it to test and afterwards, I formated my machine to update my system (was on Mojave and updated to Monterey). When I started on Monterey, I saw that I already had one machine activated and didn’t find any place to deactivate it. Fortunately, I formated my machine using another SSD for the new system. I just booted from the previous system, Deactivated and removed the old SSD but If I had installed it on my current SSD ? It would be a lost cause (since it seems that contacting steinberg support is pretty hard).

indeed, and exactly the situation i was afraid of when they first announced they were ditching the dongles.

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We must have an option to deactivate it from our account.

I agree that we should, but we currently don’t. You can see your current activations here, but there is no way to deactivate them.

The cool thing is they were originally going to let us deactivate remotely, but as @Phillipus mentioned, they changed their minds. So they switched us from one flawed licensing scheme to another one. (For what it’s worth, I love iLok/eLicenser exactly because it means I don’t have to worry about stuff like this, but I understand how the dongle requirement was a problem for others.)

There are other twists to this story as well. I had purchased, over the years, Pro and Artist licenses (and USB e-Licensers) as well as an Elements for use on a desktop, laptop and “travel” laptop respectively, now I can chuck the C11 Artist dongle and it’s license along with the Elements license, but, OK, I’m willing to live with that because I can now activate Pro on all three.

However, the licensing system can “steal” a Pro license if you’re not careful – here’s my story:
Cubase 12 Pro license activated without asking for confirmation
I expect this issue will be addressed in time, but you can see how dangerous this might be e.g. in a school, were you to install Cubase on multiple machines (hint: don’t “authorise” the machines with your own login!)

Everytime people complained about USB dongles, these problems with online systems were mentioned.
Everytime people complained about phoning home, the dangers of permanent activation were mentioned.
And, now “we” got what “we” asked for.

I actually had no real problem with the dongle.
My personally preferred system is the phone-home system. I don’t care that they send network packets on my networks now and then.
But, then, here’s where we actually are, and have to live with.
(I mean, I’d prefer a world where people didn’t pirate software, and software developers could do good business without needing copy protection. But that is also not the world we live in.)

That being said, when I’ve had experience with similar licensing problems with other vendors in the past, the first 2-3 times this happens to a user, the vendor will just say “fine, fine, just learn your lesson and don’t do it again.” They typically have some internal number of additional seats they can allocate to you if needed. Here’s hoping Steinberg has learned from everyone else who has gone before, and do the same. Just … after it happens for the third time to your same upgraded computer, you’re at some point going to have to factor in another license purchase in the cost of upgrades, if you forget to deactivate. So de-activating is important.

I hope they don’t give you a hard time about this!


Same here, I’d learned to live with it; I even bought four or five of them over the years! I also agree with all of what you’ve said, it’s just that I hadn’t anticipated the possibility of losing an activation inadvertantly.

The two requirements (don’t phone home, but allow deactivation of inaccessible computers) are mutually exclusive.

If there is no possibility to deactivate an inaccessible computer, given the value of a Cubase Pro activation there needs to be some warning and a request for explicit consent before a license is activated on a computer.

It needs to be more along the lines of Arturia, NI, Plugin Alliance etc where it can be moved to new machines when required. Machines are frequently upgraded and new ones built in our studios and the licences from other vendors easily transferred when this is done, either by deactivation or moving the iLok dongle.

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I also don’t have any problem with dongles ( I still have to use my iLok anyway) and since i’m 98% of the time at studio, they just sit plugged on my computer and I don’t even know it exists. I just move it from my studio when I need to travel (which is not very often) to use on my macbook.
I understand the advantages of dongle free, specially for those that are always on road. But that thing of not being able to deactivate remotely from my account scares me.

Those products “phone home.” The community said “we don’t like phoning home.” Thus, the community got what it asked for – no “phone home,” which means you have to manually de-activate, or lose the activation.
Unstoppable force, meet immovable object!

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End of.

I can use those products remotely with no network connection.
It depends on exactly what you mean by “phoning home”.

The issue is that there is no way to deactivate, or revoke an “activaton” from a computer that is no longer accesible to you.

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I wonder if each time there’s an upgrade if the installs get reset. Upgrades occur each 6-12 months.