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How to Protect and Prevent Loss of your Softkey License

This article outlines the best practices for working with a softkey license.  We will cover the ways to backup your license and prevent loss of the softkey license.
Don Dickinson
10/07/2016
OpticStudio
Installation and Licensing
Frequently Asked Questions


NOTE:  Before continuing this article, you should be certain that you have a softkey license.  If you received a USB dongle from Zemax Sales, you do not own a softkey license.

                

 

Introduction - Basic softkey installation and activation details

Your license controls access to the software. In case of loss, there is a potential charge for replacement. This article covers all the details on how licensing works, how to back it up, and explains our softkey policy in case of loss, 

Think of your softkey like a physical item in your possession that can be lost. After you successfully activate a license on one computer, you cannot use the same activation code again. The license may be transferred to another machine however.

The license does not require a check in or active connection to a Zemax server. This gives you have the flexibility to use it offline. It also means we cannot remotely deactivate a licensed machine in case it is stolen, or reactivate a computer if it is erased. Just like USB keys, they are perpetual and do not expire. Because of the above licensing mechanisms, there is risk a stolen or lost license is still usable. We therefore need to have a very limited license replacement policy.

Lost Softkey Policy and Zemax Productivity Assurance (ZPA)

If your license is lost, Zemax requires you to purchase a replacement, unless ZPA is included or was purchased with your softkey license. With ZPA, your license can be replaced in case of any accidental loss. You can read What Happens if a License is Lost, Stolen or Damaged to get further details. Also, see the following pages to get specific ZPA coverage information for each Zemax product: ZPA coverage information for OpticStudio and ZPA coverage information for Lensmechanix
 

How your license is locked to your computer

A softkey installed on a physical machine

To prevent violating the license agreement, the license is tied to the specific hardware in the computer. If the hardware of the computer changes sufficiently, it assumes that there was an attempt to use the softkey license simultaneously on a 2nd machine and deactivates. 

A softkey installed on a Virtual Machines

If you are installing a softkey license on a virtual machine (VM) such as VirtualBox, VMware, or Parallels (to run Windows on Apple computers) the license is tied to the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) or Windows computer name of the VM, rather than the machine hardware. Therefore, moving the VM to a new machine, so long as the FQDN does not change, will not invalidate the softkey.

If you need to change the computer name, or remove a machine from your domain and re-add it, transfer away your license to our server temporarily first. Follow the guide on this page.  If you are using versions of the software after August 2016, you don’t need to complete the transfer onto a second computer. You can simply save the generated transfer code, and re-apply the license to the original machine!  

Apple Boot Camp - Not supported

Softkey licenses are not compatible with Apple Boot Camp (dual boot) at this time. If you attempt this, the license will be disabled the first time you switch operating systems. If this changes in the future, we will update our support documentation. To use OpticStudio on an Apple computer, there are 2 options.

  • If you want to use Boot Camp, you have the option to purchase a USB key instead which is fully compatible. Contact your Zemax account representative for a quote. 
  • Use Parallels or other VM software to use OpticStudio on an Apple computer instead of Boot Camp. Refer to the knowledge base article How to Run OpticStudio on an Intel-based Mac Computer


Dealing With Hardware Changes Or Failure

If you have a failed system motherboard or hard drive, you risk loss of the softkey. See the backup instructions below to prepare for potential hard drive failure. However, if you need a single component such as video card, memory, CD drive, or wireless card replaced, this will not cause a problem with your Zemax license. Also, changing USB and other external devices will not affect the license.

Tips:

  • Do not move your hard drive to a different computer if your computer stops working. This will permanently disable your license.
  • Do not copy (clone) your hard drive to another one. This may disable your license.
  • Do not change your system's motherboard.

To avoid losing your license, you may transfer your license to another computer before replacing hardwar or cloning your hard drive. Follow the guide on this page.  Transfer it back after the computer is working again. If you are using versions of the software after August 2016, you don’t need to complete the transfer onto a second computer. You can simply save the generated transfer code, and re-apply the license to the original machine!  

 

Preparing To Upgrade, Reinstall, Repair, or Refresh Windows

If you are upgrading to a new version of Windows (Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 for example), it may not preserve your softkey, depending on the install option you choose. Similarly, If you need to erase your hard drive and reinstall Windows, be aware that your software license will be removed as well. Windows 8 and 10 also offer a “Refresh” or “Reset” option to repair the operating system, which is similar to wiping your hard drive and reinstalling (but does not require a CD / USB boot disk). Note that routine Windows security updates will not affect your softkey license. However, we recommend backing up your computer regularly, in case any updates cause a operating system failure. See the next section for details.

Tips:

  • Do not upgrade from one Windows version to another (Windows 7 to 8 or 10 for example)
  • Do not reinstall or "Reset" your existing Windows installation

To avoid losing your license, you may transfer your license to another computer prior to a reinstall or upgrade. Follow the guide on this page.  Transfer it back after the computer is working again. If you are using versions of the software after August 2016, you don’t need to complete the transfer onto a second computer. You can simply save the generated transfer code, and re-apply the license to the original machine!  


Backing up a computer with a softkey

Be aware that backing up just your documents will not backup your software license, as the license is embedded in Windows. See the next section How Do I Backup My Softkey If I cannot make a full backup, or if Windows no longer starts?

You can backup Windows to an image file using software such as Macrium Reflect, TrueImage, or Windows Backup. We have verified that restoring an image to the same computer will preserve your softkey. If your original hard drive fails, you can also restore to the same computer that has a different hard drive.

Tips:
  • Do not restore a backup of a hard drive to a different computer or machine with a different motherboard. Your license will be disabled. 
  • You must update your backup image if your softkey license is transferred away and back to the computer again so it has the latest information. Otherwise it may not be able to be transferred away again. 
After restoring your backup, verify your Zemax software is working. Even if it is, you should check your license status. Open the Sentinel Admin Control Center in a web browser. The address is http://localhost:1947. Go to the “Sentinel Keys” tab. The license should look something like this:


If the status mentions “cloned” or another error in red, first review the article How to Troubleshoot Softkey License Issues. If you still need help contact Zemax Support for assistance. Please include the exact error you are getting, or include a screenshot, and any information you can provide about what led to the problem.
 

Backing up a softkey if you cannot make a full backup, or if Windows no longer starts?

Sometimes Windows can become corrupted due to software or hardware issues and fail to start. You can backup the license information by backing up the following folders (this will include any licenses activated or transferred to this machine.

C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Aladdin Shared\HASP
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\SafeNet Sentinel\Sentinel LDK\installed\114811

TIP: You must update your license backup if your softkey license is transferred away and back to the computer again so it has the latest information. Otherwise it may not be able to be transferred away again. 

We cannot guarantee it can be restored by using the backup files as it requires they be up to date and the machine hardware is not significantly changed. If your softkey cannot be restored, contact Zemax support and give details of your situation. We will check your account to see if there are options for a replacement.

If Your License Is Lost Or Cannot Be Accessed

Many softkey issues are repairable. Before assuming your license is lost, review our softkey troubleshooting article "How to Troubleshoot Softkey License Issues". If your license was lost when attempting to transfer the softkey to another computer, check Transferring and Updating a Softkey License  If you have a different issue, or are unable to gain access to the license, contact Zemax support for help. Please include as much information as possible about your situation. We will make every effort to resolve the situation.