End-User Licensing Support

The ElecKey system provides the end-user utilities that allow you to support the user to handle the software license easily in situations. For example, the Transfer utility allows the the user to transfer the license from one machine to another. The Remake utility allows the user to remake the license in situations in case the Key might get corrupted. The Destroy utility allows the user to destroy the license in which you can use the Destroy-Code to prove that before issuing a refund, etc. Besides the above, another license issue the user might report you is that the application has lost the license. The following explains what might cause such a problem, and provide a guideline on how you can handle the situation and resolve it.

License Loss

The problem in which the protected application loses the license can be caused by one of the followings.

Hardware Change

When the user upgrades the computer hardware without deactivating the license properly, the following happens. The Key still contains the original hardware signatures. When starting the application thereafter, it will find that current hardware signatures do not match the original ones saved in the Key. Typically, the error message Invalid Key or Invalid Key device with an error code will appear. The application will normally ask the user to remake the Key. If not, the user can use the Remake utility.

 

The remake process creates a new Key using the current hardware signatures. As a result, a new Registration ID will be provided and the user will need to activate the license again.

Corrupted Key

There are many reasons that might cause the Key to be corrupted. These include, but are not limited to the followings:

 

         The user reinstalls the OS.

         The user accidentally removes the Key file.

         The Key file is removed or modified by another program.

         The Key file is somehow damaged, e.g. bad sector.

When the application finds the corrupted Key, it will automatically create a new Key. No error message is shown. As a result, a new Registration ID will be provided and the user will need to activate the license again.

Handling and Support

When the user needs assistance on the lost license problem, you would need to generate a new License Key for the user. However, this is subject to the terms, conditions, and restrictions set forth in your license agreement. For example, you may allow a few extra activations in case the user loses the license accidentally.

 

You should also ask the user for a screenshot of the error message, and gather information such as relevant action or incident. These can help to determine the cause of the problem. The error message includes an error code and a flag at the end, e.g. Invalid Key device [0x013c88][c]. The flag provides additional information about the error. The flag descriptions are listed in the table below.

 

Flags

Meaning

d

The Key file is duplicated.

f

The Key file is moved to a new hard drive.

b

The BIOS or motherboard has changed.

c

The CPU has changed.

e

The Ethernet adapter has changed.

 

Besides, if you want more technical details, the Key Inspector tool provides the remote inspection feature that allows you to inspect the Key system on the userís machine. It can be really helpful to diagnose any licensing problem reported by the user. For the usage and more details, see the topic Key Inspector / Remote Inspection and Diagnosis.

 

In another aspect, it is also possible that the user might try to cheat you to gain an extra license for another machine. To handle this siutation, we recommend that you enable the extended Registration ID with hardware signatures when protecting your application. Its format is as follows: <MainRegID>-<HDDSig>-<CPUSig>-<BIOSSig>-<EthernetSig>. The use of extended Registration ID can be helpful to prove the claim made by the user. By comparing the hardware signatures against those from the previous license activation, the following conclusions can be drawn.

 

HDDSig

CPUSig

BIOSSig

EthernetSig

Possible Causes

Changed

Same

Same

Same

The system is migrated to a new hard drive on the same machine.

Same

Changed

Same

Same

The CPU is upgraded on the same machine.

Same

Same

Changed

Same

The BIOS is updated on the same machine.

Same

Same

Same

Changed

The Ethernet adapters are changed, removed, or disabled on the same machine.

Same

Changed

Changed

Changed

The hard drive is moved to another machine.

Changed

Changed

Changed

Changed

The license activation is made from another different machine.

Same

Same

Same

Same

The license activation is made from the same machine, possibly corrupted Key.

 

When using ElecKey Integrator to protect your application, you can enable the extended Registration ID with hardware signatures in the Customize Messages dialog/Registration Dialog Box Properties/Options tab. If you use the KeyCheck API, see the provided code examples and find the comment //Option to show Hardware Signatures.