All about iLok

Pace’s iLok key has made plug-in management hassles a thing of the past. If you don’t know what iLok is and how it works.

Pace Anti-Piracy

The iLok hardware key and were developed by a company called Pace Anti-Piracy, Inc. They develop and license tools and technology that help software publishers enforce their software licenses.

Why iLok? The Problem

Back in about 2002, someone invented a way of placing plug-in authorizations onto a little blue USB dongle called an iLok.

This was a very welcome change because up until then, plug-in authorizations could potentially be very time consuming things to manage.

iLok as a Solution

Using iLok, you put all of the authorizations for your plug-ins onto an iLok USB key instead of on your hard drive.

A single iLok will easily store 100+ licenses. Once your authorizations are on the iLok, you just insert it in a USB port. When you launch Pro Tools, it’ll see all the licenses and authorizes the plugins. It’s a breeze.

Storing the licenses (authorizations) this way makes plug-in authorization much easier than it was a few years ago. Now your plug-in licenses can travel from computer to computer with no need to re-authorize the plug-in. Massive time and hassle saver. Website is the official Pace Anti-Piracy website where you can manage all of your plug-in licenses. Transfer licenses between iLoks (and users), make use of demo licenses, or just gaze lovingly at the list of the licenses you already own.

Pro Tools Tutorial - Using iLok

The Official website where you manage your iLok account

iLok Zero Downtime Insurance offers an insurance program called Zero Downtime for $30.00 a year.

Here’s how iLok explains the Zero Downtime coverage:

  • Sign up for Zero Downtime coverage for each critical iLok you own. You also purchase spare iLoks as needed for emergency.
  • When a covered iLok breaks or is lost or stolen, log in to and go through the RMA process for the affected iLok.
  • automatically deposits time limited temporary licenses in your account.
  • Using, you download the temporary licenses onto a spare iLok. You can now continue to work using these temporary licenses.
  • You send Pace/iLok your broken iLok.
  • Once they’ve validated the broken iLok, they provide you with permanent replacement licenses in your account.
  • You put the replacement licenses on your spare (new, permanent) iLok. You now have a complete replacement of your licenses.
  • If the iLok was defective and under warranty, we send you a blank replacement. You can use the replacement as your spare if you like.

Zero Downtime coverage is way better than if you had to claim it under your personal insurance, re-buy all the plug-ins, re-authorize them to a newly purchased iLok, etc, etc.

Buy iLok USB keys from

iLok with Waves plug-ins

Waves plug-ins use iLok. For many years, Waves used their own unique method for authorizing Waves plugs to the iLok key. Many people grumbled and complained. Waves listened. As of Waves V6, you can manage your Waves plug-ins using

Using iLok for DEMO plug-ins

When it comes time to use a Demo or Trial plugin, software companies will deposit a temporary iLok license to your account. All they need to do this is your username.

The Demo License Process

Although it’s bound to vary a little depending on the plugin developer, the process generally goes like this.

Fill in the usual registration info that software companies usually ask for and ive them your iLok username. Within minutes you’ll see a little message in your account saying You have Licenses.

Demo licenses are effective from the time you transfer the license from your iLok account onto one of your iLoks – not from the time you request the demo. So, you can wait until you’re actually ready to demo it before you transfer the demo license onto your iLok.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to delete an expired demo licenses if you chose not to buy the plug-in you demo’d. If you’re like me and like to keep things organized just go and buy an iLok key specifically for demo plug-ins.

Software Vendors that use iLok

There are currently 49+ Software Vendors listed at that use/support the iLok. You can view the complete up-to-date list of supported developers here.


  1. My M-Powered Pro Tools came with an ilok. Can I download a licenses for my Autotune onto it?

  2. Jay ~ In case you didn’t already figure it out, yes you can.

  3. I have the Pro Tools 8 LE and the Pro Tools M-Audio 8 and only M-Audio is recognize on my iLok. How can I correct this?

  4. Chino ~ Pro Tools LE does not require iLok authorization unless you are running add-ons that require it, like the Music Production Toolkit.

    However, instead of iLok authorization Pro Tools LE requires a Digidesign Interface (mbox, 002, 003,) connected to the system.

    Pro Tools M-Powered will not run with a Digidesign audio interface. It will only run with an M-Audio audio interface and an iLok.

    You need to pick one: LE or M-Powered, install it and use it with the corresponding hardware and or iLok authorization.

  5. To me the iLok was created by the devil. I’ve tried to download the driver installer many times but it always stops at 80%. Uninstall. Restart. Download. Reinstall. 80%. Why? Or what am I doing wrong? That’s all I want to know.

  6. I have an ilok, but im just concerned if i lose my ilok. Is there anyway that I can insure it or be able to put my stuff on a replacement?

    • Chris Bryant says:

      Alex ~ Yes. iLok offers an insurance plan called Zero Downtime. You can purchase it for each iLok within your user account. It’s $30./yr.

      Basically, here how it works.
      You purchased ZDT Coverage and a spare iLok.
      You register the spare iLok in your account.
      Then, if for any reason you lose or damage the covered iLok, will transfer the protected licenses to your spare iLok dongle.

  7. Mike P. says:

    The ZDT is only a temporary fix as the licenses aren’t permanent. They temporarily get you going while you contact the original license manufacturer and request a new license. Kind of a pain, but the process seems fairly simple.

  8. Mike ~

    You only need to contact the original manufacturer if your iLok is lost or stolen – not for a damaged iLok.

    In cases where your iLok is damaged, is authorized by the software companies to provide permanent replacement licenses for the licenses that they recover from your broken iLok. Once they receive your broken iLok, they recover the licenses from it and deposit permanent replacement licenses in your account.

  9. Arvid Wam Solvang says:

    I have ProTools HD3 Accel (PT9) in my studio with one iLok to start everything up.
    I also have the QuadCore I7 Macbook Pro with (PT9/Complete Production Toolkit 2 etc) at home with one iLok to start everything up.

    AND I have a third iLok with all plugins on (Waves Mercury/SoundToys/Altiverb/URS etc) that I move between those setups.

    BUT: When my Plugins-iLok is in the studio and I just want to start up PT9 on my MacBook Pro at home for recording an idea or something I need to go through a lot of “canceling” since it doesn’t find the plugins located on the missing iLok. (we’re talking several hundreds of cancelings here due to Waves Mercury)

    Is there anyway to avoid this?

    • Chris Bryant says:

      Hi Arvid,

      You may have already resolved this by now. But here’s my reply, just in case.

      This sounds to me like you just have a bunch of plug-ins installed on your home system that are not authorized when you don’t have the iLok (is that correct?). If that’s the case, just remove those plugins from your plug-ins folder. This will prevent Pro Tools from prompting you for licenses for those plugins when you launch Pro Tools.

      You could place the plugins that you’re not interested in using in an Unused Plugins folder at the same level as the Plugins folder (which is located at home\library\application support\digidesign\…)


  10. Michael Thomas says:

    I have Pro Tools 8 M-Powered, and the blue iLok but I need the License card for the program where and how do I get it.

  11. Mike P. says:

    I recently lost my iLok for Pro Tools M-Powered 8. To get it replaced, I purchased a new iLok from Guitar Center. I then logged onto to report the iLok as lost and wrote down the RMA number. Then I purchased an Avid Customer Support code from That cost me about $39.95. I called Avid support, gave them the RMA number and the Support Code number I purchased. The tech had the new licenses deposited in my iLok account in about 2 minutes. I downloaded those licenses at to the new iLok and I was ready to go. Once again, kind of a hassle, but happy that the problem is resolved.

    • Chris Bryant says:

      Hey Mike ~

      Thanks for sharing about that experience. I’m sure it may come in handy for some other M-Powered users.

  12. Spencer says:

    I have Pro-tools 8 m-powered and ive just gotten i an ilok. I have it plugged in and ive downloaded the client installer and the driver. When i open up Pro tools it says i need to authorize it, so i click “Authorize.” Then it says the authorization cannot be found on my ilok (i do have my pro tools license on the ilok though) and i need a license card. I have no clue what that is. I really need help with getting pro tools working. Thanks!

  13. Ok so I’m thinking about getting pro tools and I have 2 home studios one in another state so traveling between my two places do I need to travel with my ilok or can I authorize them each then leave it in one place or the other?

    • Chris Bryant says:


      You need to carry the iLok with you to authorize whichever computer you happen to be working on.

  14. I recently purchased an upgrade to Pro Tools 9 from Pro Tools 8 LE. On the old LE system, you only needed Digi hardware, NOT an ilok, in order to run the software. Now, when I go to download Pro Tools 9, it asks for my ilok username, however, since I stored the license for Pro Tools 8 LE directly on my computer, it doesn’t see it on my account, and won’t let me download my upgrade. Do you know of a way to transfer the license from the computer to the account? I even tried a re-install, hoping I’d be prompted with a choice to store my PT LE8 license on my computer, or on my ilok. Please help!

    • Chris Bryant says:

      Hi Will,

      Thanks for your comment.

      To me it sounds like there may be a bit of confusion about the way and iLok licenses work.

      1. Pro Tools 8 LE does not store a license on your computer because it uses hardware authorization – not a software license. Meaning, it looks for qualified Digidesign or Avid Hardware to be connected to the computer before it will launch the application. It’s that simple.

      2. When you go to download Pro Tools 9 – does not scan your computer and get confused about the fact that you have Pro Tools 8 LE on the drive and then hold back the download. It’s just a file download. So, if Avid is not allowing you to download Pro Tools 9, it is not because you have Pro Tools 8 LE installed.

      3. The way it works is like this:
      a. Avid requests your iLok username is because Avid will deposit the Pro Tools 9 license that you purchased into your iLok account (so be certain to enter the correct iLok user name).
      b. Once the license is in your iLok account, you then log in to your iLok account via and transfer the PT9 license to one of your iLok USB keys.

      Have you transferred the Pro Tools 9 license that you purchased to the iLok USB dongle that you happen to have inserted into your computer?

      Hopefully, that explains enough to get you on the right track. But just to clarify about your last question:

      Since there is no license for Pro Tools 9 on your computer (Pro Tools 9 only uses iLok deposited licenses), there is nothing to transfer to your iLok.
      But for the record – No – there is no way to transfer any software license directly from your computer to an iLok.

      iLok licenses are managed exclusively through your account at

      Tip: make sure you have the latest iLok utilities installed on your computer. They are available from within your user account.

  15. Hi I Just bought an iLok and some plugins from Waves. My problem is when I enter a mix session and have my iLok in my Mac the plug ins don’t show up. All the licenses show up on the iLok when I visit the iLok website but for some reason they don’t show up to be able to use in a session. Whats up? what do I do?


    • Chris Bryant says:


      Pardon the basic questions:

      1. Did you install the Waves plug-ins on your computer? The way your comment is worded it sounded as though you were expecting your plug-ins to show up because you have an iLok installed. But that’s not how iLok works.

      For example, you could (hypothetically) install Waves plug-ins using the Waves plug-in installer for your system without an iLok or licenses. The Waveshell will be present in your Pro Tools plugins folder and the individual plugins will be installed in your Waves plugins folder. However, without licenses you would be prompted to Authorize them as Pro Tools launched.

      2. Waves has a fairly unique iLok authorization procedure compared to other companies. You need to assign a specific iLok serial number for the licenses within your Waves Account. By your comment it does sound like you’ve done that correctly. But, from experience I would double check that those licenses are Active on your iLok and not Pending.


  16. What happened was I didn’t check the boxes next to the plugins I purchased in the final installation process. I did that and now everything is working.

  17. Michael says:

    Hi Chris,

    Where can I buy a license to go with Pro Tools 7 for my iLok?



    • Hi Michael,

      To answer specifically: A license for Pro Tools 7 (which comes with Pro Tools HD) would be available for purchase from any Avid dealer or from the Avid Store online.

      But I’ll add that there are several versions of Pro Tools software (PT TDM, LE, MP) and various revisions of each (v7,v8,v9).

      • Pro Tools 7 TDM uses iLok authorization and is included with your HD system purchase
      • Pro Tools 7 LE does not use iLok Authorization – it is authorized by having a Digidesign/Avid hardware interface connected (mbox, 002, 003,)
      • M-Powered Pro Tools uses iLok Authorization and the iLok (dongle with boxed version / license with download version) is included with purchase

      Hope that answers your question.


  18. Hi there.

    So I bought Pro Tools 9 a few months ago and have been using it fine with the pre-authorised iLok. Unfortunately I lost the pre-authorized iLok that came in the Pro Tools 9 box last week and have had to purchase a new one. I am wondering how I am supposed to get Pro Tools working with this new one? Very confused.

  19. Update: Got it sorted! Rang up the Avid guys in the US and they sorted me out. For anyone else who loses theirs…You have to purchase an ASC from the website (lets you talk to Avid on the phone) as well as the iLok transfer fee from avid website, and a new blank iLok and register it on before ringing Avid.

    • Chris Bryant says:

      @Tom –

      Thanks for sharing about that procedure! Sure it will be of help to others.