SafeKey International, Inc
Providing solutions for hardware locks, dongles and security keys
Home Frequently Asked Questions - Hardware Lock Devices and Software
QUESTION: What is a hardware lock device?
ANSWER: Hardware lock devices or "dongles" are hardware modules that connect to your computer and communicate with software running on the computer in such a way that the software will not function fully or at all without the hardware lock device attached. The most common type of hardware lock device attaches to the printer port and provides a "pass-through" port to connect a printer cable. Hardware lock devices usually incorporate some kind of algorithmic encryption in their on-board micro-electronic circuitry; in some models of hardware locks these encryption algorithms can be very advanced. Many hardware locks also provide some amount of onboard non-volatile memory for the software to access. Some lock devices even have real-time clocks to keep track of date and time information, such as when an application's temporary or demo license is set to expire.
QUESTION: Why do some software companies use hardware locks and most do not?
ANSWER: You would have to ask each company directly to get an honest answer. We suspect it is mostly paranoia due to software piracy. Many companies suspect their software will be illegaly distributed if not protected in some manner. There is strong evidence however that software without copy protection sells better in North America than copy-protected software does.
QUESTION: Is it legal to bypass the security system on a software product?
ANSWER: The laws are different for each country. In the United States, the license agreement that comes with a software application generally will dictate how that software can be used. The U.S. copyright act also provides that it is not an infringement of the copyright in the software application for the owner of a copy of the application to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of the application for archival purposes. It is the opinion of SafeKey International that it is legal in the United States to use a replacement security system as long as you do not violate the terms and conditions of the license agreement. However, you should consult with an attorney if you have any question about whether your particular use is legal.
QUESTION: How do SafeKey products work?
ANSWER: SafeKey International produces backup software for a few popular brands and models of hardware locks. First, special software supplied by SafeKey will read the contents of your lock device. Then a device driver will be created to emulate your lock device exactly.
QUESTION: Is your backup software guaranteed?

SafeKey International guarantees that the software we sell will work as well as the lock device you are supplied with. All the options and security levels you paid for will be available -- no additional options or security levels will be enabled. Although SafeKey cannot anticipate all configurations and hardware incompatibilities, we are committed to improving and updating our software. If SafeKey cannot get your software to run trouble-free in a reasonable amount of time, your money will be refunded.

If it doesn't work, we'll make it work, or we'll refund your money.

QUESTION: Is the software you sell copy protected in any way?
ANSWER: There is no copy protection on the software that SafeKey International sells. This is a very good question to ask whenever purchasing a software product.
QUESTION: Do you supply any products for software based copy protection systems?
ANSWER: No. SafeKey International specializes only in hardware lock solutions.
QUESTION: Are there other companies that supply lock emulation for products you do not?
ANSWER: We are not aware of any reputable companies selling similar products. We sometimes hear of companies that sell products for hardware locks, but we do not have any particular knowledge about the quality of their products or their reputations. If you do find another company, we advise you to please check their reputation, their guarantee, and their payment method. A reputable company will always take credit card payment without a markup -- paying by credit card is also the easiest method to get your money back if the company or software is bogus. Also inquire if the software is copy-protected. No one interested in your backup protection is going to sell you 'copy protected' software.
QUESTION: What happens if we get a new version of the software application and your software does not work?
ANSWER: SafeKey International cannot predict what changes software companies will make to future versions. It is always possible that our software will not work on subsequent releases. SafeKey can only guarantee the lock emulation software to work on current versions, but our commitment to improve and update our software means that a solution is usually available within weeks of a new version being released. In most cases an update will be made available for half the price of your first purchase.
QUESTION: What software applications do you make your software for?
ANSWER: SafeKey International does not keep track of all the applications our software works with. Our products are more specific to the brand and model of lock device used. If you need to determine whether we have a product for your application, the most important information we require is the brand and model of lock device the application uses. We then need to know the operating system and the name of the application. Please direct your inquiries to
QUESTION: What operating systems do you support?
ANSWER: We currently support Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME, we also make a product for Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Most DOS programs can also be supported through the Windows operating system if the programs run in a Windows DOS prompt.
QUESTION: Will your software work for all operating systems?
ANSWER: The software we sell may be operating system specific. It depends on the security method used to access the lock device by the application. In almost all cases Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP requires one style (NT System) of driver; in most cases the Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows ME are the same style (VxD) of driver product.
QUESTION: If I buy a product for Win 98 will it work on Windows NT/2000 or XP? If not, do I have to buy a whole new product?
ANSWER: The current Windows 95/98 products we sell will not work on Windows NT/2000/XP. We typically charge half the price of the original purchase to update a customer with software for a different operating system.
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