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Dongle (protection key) question!

(6 Posts)

I think I need someone v. technical to help with this, but if anyone has any idea at all, I'd be most grateful!

I use a particular design software which was written specifically for a certain type of design. The software is now about 10 years old and the company that made it no longer provides any support for it whatsoever (it's not even the same company any more).

The software is protected by a parallel port dongle, which is a complete bugger because sooner or later I am not going to be able to plug it in anywhere. As it is, I am using a very old laptop for this programme, which still has a parallel port.
It also has problems running on anything newer than Windows 2000 (although I can get it to work on Win XP, with some errors).

Running two OS on a new laptop shouldn't be a problem, so really the only thing I have to do is figure out a way round the dongle.
Does anyone have any ideas? Is it possible to "crack" a dongle so the software will run without it?

It's a bit of a long shot, I know, but if anyone has anything which might help me, I'd be really grateful.

TIA

ScaredOfCows Sun 08-Nov-09 13:10:19

Himself says you can buy USB to parallel port converters - but he says he doesn't know if it will work, but might be worth a try?

MrAnchovy Sun 08-Nov-09 14:18:32

Is there a users group for the software? If so, they are bound to have a guide to what works. They may even have a download of a software hack that lets you work without the dongle.

If not and you are on your own, I'd say the following adaptors stand a chance of working, working from low to high in terms of both likelihood and cost:

- An ordinary USB parallel printer adaptor
- A bidirectional USB parallel port adaptor
- An ExpressCard (or PCMCIA on an older laptop) parallel port card

What is the software?

Tried the converter. The PCMCIA works on the older laptop, but not the new one; doesn't have PCMCIA slot, needs the ExpressCard which does NOT work with this dongle

No users group or support of any kind for software, as it was specifically written for this particular company. There are quite a few people around the world using it, and all of us are going to be running into the same problem sooner or later. And there is no other software to use, as it generates a company-specific file type which is needed to run a particular type of machine.

'Tis a bugger!

Thanks for your thoughts though.

MrAnchovy Sun 08-Nov-09 21:46:09

I'm surprised the ExpressCard doesn't work, although I'm not surprised it doesn't work on Vista: have you tried it with XP on a machine with an ExpressCard? Are you sure this is a full bidirectional parallel port adapter like this one?

If this was bespoke software, the developer is likely to have used an off-the-shelf dongle. Is there any identification on the dongle (SmartDongle, DESkey...) so that you can contact the manufacturer for a solution?

Anyway the best long-term solution is going to be replacing the software with something new that does the same job. This may not be as difficult or expensive as you might think.

If you don't want to give any more details here, email me at mr dot anchovy at mranchovy dot com.

zebramama Mon 09-Nov-09 16:01:48

If the software was ever of interest outside of a professional working experience (I am thinking about Design or Music software rather than Finance etc) then you may find "virtual" dongle software available as used by pirates using illegal copies of the software.
Clearly not the best route to take, but if you must get it running under XP/Vista/Win7 on a modern machine then you may have no other option.

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