Sign in to follow this  
Raynor

License Issues Related to Changing Hard Drives

Recommended Posts

Do you connect and disconnect hard drives to your computer frequently, or perhaps use some sort of virtual hard drives?

 

I have also just been shown another prompt saying that "my licencse would expire in 30 days".

I thus had to enter my license details again. This is the second time that this happened to me in the last few days.

 

Incidentally, I have indeed been changing my backups HDDs quite a bit during the last few days as

I am in the process of restructuring my backup HDDs (formatting new ones, erasing old ones).

They get connected via SATA, so they might be seen as "normal" HDDs (HDD config details see below).

 

But I have always used several extra HDDs for backups and have never been shown such a prompt in the last year.

 

Something is fishy here :unsure::wacko: .

 

Has Emsisoft's "sensitivity" towards HDD changes been increased in one of the recent updates ?

Could this be the reason for receiving those erroneous messages that the license would expire in 30 days ?

 

My HDD configuration:

 

SATA Port (1): Intel SSD ("system disk"), never changes

SATA Port (2): Western Digital HDD ("data disk"),  never changes

SATA Port (3): Western Digital HDD (another "data disk"), never changes

SATA Port (4): Backup drives, only those disks have frequently changed in the last few days.

 

--> Various HDDs have been connected and disconnected to the fourth SATA port as I am in the process of

getting rid of old backup HDDs (erasing them) and formatting new ones for future use...

 

It seems to me that the algorithm used to calculate the machine ID seems to be too strict AND dumb

as I have not changed my first three HDDs (System & Data), only the fourth connected HDD has been changed several times,

which seems to be repeatedly causing the program to revert to a "30 days" license :blush::angry:

 

 

Thanks,

Raynor

 

(PS: please let me know If you need my email address to take a look at my licenses (if this helps with your investigations),

I use different email addresses in the forum and in the license center.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just been struggling with the same issue.

 

See:

http://support.emsisoft.com/topic/20326-eis-sudden-change-license/

 

 

Using several Backup HDDs connected via SATA causes the license to change to a 30 days trial :unsure:.

 

BUT I have been using SATA-connected backup HDDs it the past together with Emsisoft (for over a year)

and have never had this issue before. It first happened to me a few days ago...

 

Perhaps there as been a change it the "sensitivity" / the way the unique machine key is calculated ?

 

PS looking through the forum, I am getting the impression that there have been quite a few posts recently about

strange / unwarranted license changes back to a 30 day trial ... any you can add me to that list  :unsure:.

 

Something is definitely wrong, please investigate :ph34r:

 

Compare:

http://support.emsisoft.com/topic/20305-eam-license-troubles/

http://support.emsisoft.com/topic/20301-trouble-with-license/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Emsisoft Internet Security and Emsisoft Anti-Malware will generate a unique ID ("Machine Key" or "Machine ID") that our license and update system uses to identify your computer. Hard drives (or at least certain information about them) are used in creating the Machine Key for your computer. If the hard drives connected to the computer change, then a new Machine Key will be generated, and the next time updates are downloaded the license will be remapped since the Machine Key is different. If a license is remapped 5 times in a day, then it gets locked out from being remapped again in our system, which could easily cause the issue you are experiencing (assuming it switched to the free trial due to being unable to remap the license key).

Hard drives connected to the computer via USB are ignored when generating the Machine Key, as are NAS drives, so we recommend connecting backup drives via one of these two methods instead of using SATA/eSATA. Obviously USB hard drive enclosures are cheaper than NAS, and access/transfer speeds should be faster with USB, so that might be the best place to start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Emsisoft Internet Security and Emsisoft Anti-Malware will generate a unique ID ("Machine Key" or "Machine ID") that our license and update system uses to identify your computer. Hard drives (or at least certain information about them) are used in creating the Machine Key for your computer. If the hard drives connected to the computer change, then a new Machine Key will be generated, and the next time updates are downloaded the license will be remapped since the Machine Key is different. If a license is remapped 5 times in a day, then it gets locked out from being remapped again in our system, which could easily cause the issue you are experiencing (assuming it switched to the free trial due to being unable to remap the license key).

 

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately, some details still remain sketchy to me ...

 

I have been switching HDDs quite frequently (as posted above), but not five times a day ?!

What happens if a key gets "locked" from being "remapped" ??? Is this a temporary lock, just for the same day? This is still not clear to me.

 

It did indeed revert to some kind of trial key (This happened twice so far). Both times I then reentered my original purchased license key,

which worked without any problems. Is there a problem reentering my original key straight away? Could it be permanently blocked ?

Should I wait a few days before restoring my original license for safety reasons (this would be possible, as I am granted ... 30 days :P) ?

 

In other words: I could live with having to reenter my key at times (which should not happen too often in the future, as the HDD changing bonanza

that I've started a few days ago days won't happen again so soon after it is finished), but I wouldn't want to run the risk my key getting blocked...

So any advice on when to reenter my original key would be appreciated.

 

Hard drives connected to the computer via USB are ignored when generating the Machine Key, as are NAS drives, so we recommend connecting backup drives via one of these two methods instead of using SATA/eSATA. Obviously USB hard drive enclosures are cheaper than NAS, and access/transfer speeds should be faster with USB, so that might be the best place to start.

 

I am really sorry that I have to say that this piece of advice is not satisfactory.  :blush:  An AV program (no software for that matter) should not dictate the way how I connect my backup HDDs.

 

I have a 5.25" internal docking station in my computer that easily lets me switch normal (i.e. not contained in an enclosure) SATA HDDs,

which then are connected directly to the mainboard's SATA port 4.

 

This is the one I use:

https://en.sharkoon.com/product/1686/12640#desc

 

This is a very cost-effective way of doing backups as I just have to buy simple standard HDDs, and don't have to fork out more money for the cases/enclosures.

 

I would like to reiterate that the algorithm used to calculate the key seems too STRICT and DUMB ^_^ , as I have only been switching ONE HDD, while three other drives

(the ones that are permanently in my computer's case) remained the same (see HDD config as posted above).

 

This should really be possible and not cause any license key issues :(. I certainly won't be switching the way I do my backups

because of some piece of software. Don't get me wrong, I really like Emsisoft Internet Securiry a lot, but this behavior seems a bit overbearing ...

 

All the best,

Raynor

 

PS I absolutely understand that you guys need a way to uniquely identify a PC in order to check If a license is not used

too often ... but maybe the machine ID could be calculated a bit differently (graphics card ? some other serial numbers?

MAC address? etc.), or the HDD part could be toned down a bit ... After all, Windows itself doesn't seem to mind and stays activated,

so MS must have figured out a smarter way of identifying computers (AFAIK they especially focus on mainboard changes which seems smart to me).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been switching HDDs quite frequently (as posted above), but not five times a day ?!

If you add a hard drive, that changes the Machine Key. If you then remove the hard drive, it changes it back. If an update happens after the first Machine Key change, and then again after the second Machine Key change, then that counts as two remappings.

What happens if a key gets "locked" from being "remapped" ??? Is this a temporary lock, just for the same day? This is still not clear to me.

I apologize for not mentioning the timeout is 24 hours. After 24 hours the license can be remapped again.

Is there a problem reentering my original key straight away? Could it be permanently blocked ?

Should I wait a few days before restoring my original license for safety reasons (this would be possible, as I am granted ... 30 days :P) ?

There is no problem with it, however if the license key is locked out in our system it won't allow you to activate it again until it is unlocked again (24 hours after it gets locked out). If it's locked out, then you can use the free trial for the 24 hours until it's unlocked again.

I am really sorry that I have to say that this piece of advice is not satisfactory.  :blush:  An AV program (no software for that matter) should not dictate the way how I connect my backup HDDs.

Unfortunately it is difficult to generate a unique ID for each computer that is reliable. Since the vast majority of users don't change hard drives often enough to trigger license issues, using hardware such as hard drives to generate it is usually fairly safe. Even in a corporate situation where hot swappable hard drives are used as backup media, they wouldn't be changed anywhere near often enough to cause license issues.

I have a 5.25" internal docking station in my computer that easily lets me switch normal (i.e. not contained in an enclosure) SATA HDDs,

which then are connected directly to the mainboard's SATA port 4.

 

This is the one I use:

https://en.sharkoon.com/product/1686/12640#desc

 

This is a very cost-effective way of doing backups as I just have to buy simple standard HDDs, and don't have to fork out more money for the cases/enclosures.

From what I'm seeing, such a system would cost anywhere from $80 to $100. USB tends to be much cheaper, and even if you buy an enclosure they are usually no more than $40 (usually less from the prices I saw on Amazon). USB media tends to be more common for this sort of backup solution because it tends to be cheap (unless of course it's flash memory).

I understand that this would be extra money on top of what you've already spent for your backup setup, however it might still be worth looking into for convenience.

PS I absolutely understand that you guys need a way to uniquely identify a PC in order to check If a license is not used

too often ... but maybe the machine ID could be calculated a bit differently (graphics card ? some other serial numbers?

MAC address? etc.), or the HDD part could be toned down a bit ... After all, Windows itself doesn't seem to mind and stays activated,

so MS must have figured out a smarter way of identifying computers (AFAIK they especially focus on mainboard changes which seems smart to me).

We've tried a number of other methods, and we keep running into issues with them. Not every motherboard has a serial number embedded in their firmware, for instance. Many OEM computers are indistinguishable from each other because the exact same hardware is used, and since it's almost always cheap hardware many things get overlooked. For Microsoft this probably isn't an issue, since they got their money from these OEM computers and in most cases don't need to worry about whether or not they can uniquely identify them. Windows also doesn't have a free trial that's tied to a Machine Key like our software does, and we had issues where the free trial was already expired on many computers because they all had the same Machine Key.

Obviously if we think we can make generating Machine Keys better in the future, then we will. For now, the best recommendation I can make is to use USB since it is the cheapest alternative that won't cause license issues.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you add a hard drive, that changes the Machine Key. If you then remove the hard drive, it changes it back. If an update happens after the first Machine Key change, and then again after the second Machine Key change, then that counts as two remappings.

[...]

I apologize for not mentioning the timeout is 24 hours. After 24 hours the license can be remapped again.

[...]

There is no problem with it, however if the license key is locked out in our system it won't allow you to activate it again until it is unlocked again (24 hours after it gets locked out). If it's locked out, then you can use the free trial for the 24 hours until it's unlocked again.

 

Thanks a lot for your detailed reply. Now the whole thing seems much clearer to me.

 

As HDDs in my 5.25" drive bay can be hot-swapped, I will just disable automatic updates before inserting my backup HDDs and then

eject and remove the backup drive before re-enabling auto updates. This should hopefully revert the machine key to its original state.

 

This is of course a slight annoyance, but one that I can live with as I only do HDD backups on a weekly to monthly basis. :unsure::lol:

 

 

 

Unfortunately it is difficult to generate a unique ID for each computer that is reliable. Since the vast majority of users don't change hard drives often enough to trigger license issues, using hardware such as hard drives to generate it is usually fairly safe. Even in a corporate situation

[...]

We've tried a number of other methods, and we keep running into issues with them. Not every motherboard has a serial number embedded in their firmware, for instance. Many OEM computers are indistinguishable from each other because the exact same hardware is used, and since it's almost always cheap hardware many things get overlooked. For Microsoft this probably isn't an issue, since they got their money from these OEM computers and in most cases don't need to worry about whether or not they can uniquely identify them. Windows also doesn't have a free trial that's tied to a Machine Key like our software does, and we had issues where the free trial was already expired on many computers because they all had the same Machine Key.

Obviously if we think we can make generating Machine Keys better in the future, then we will. For now, the best recommendation I can make is to use USB since it is the cheapest alternative that won't cause license issues.

 

Also, thanks for clearing that up. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for future improvements in this area.

 

Thanks again and all the best

Raynor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, sorry for digging up this thread again :P

 

I just wanted to say once again that this issue is still rather annoying for me when doing backups using hot-swappable HDDs.

 

I event tried shutting down the protection (using the tray icon menu), but even then it would revert to a trial license, thus forcing me to reenter

my license after finishing the backup (after removing the backup HDD).

 

Is is possible (in the future) to implement one of these workarounds:

 

1) Why don't you just use the FIRST (system) hard disk to generate a hardware ID and skip additional hard drives? That would solve the issue,

as adding and removing additional SATA drives triggers the license reactivation, whereas the system disk is of course not changed.

 

2) Temporarily disable the hardware checks while the protection has been shut down. That would at least enable me to temporarily shut down the protection

before the backup and reenable it afterwards.

 

After much thinking about the whole issue (after all, I'm always srminded of it whenever I perform a backup :unsure::wacko:)

I am still of the opinion that it is fairly wrong to make it hard for users to use hot-swappable SATA hard disk drives for backup (or similar) purposes.

The "use an USB drive" recommendation just doesn't cut it, sorry :excl:

 

So please let me finish by kindly asking you to at least think about implementing a workaround (or fix) for this issue.

 

Thank you and all the best

Raynor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After shutting down protection, you can stop the service to keep the updates and such from happening in the background.

If you're familiar with batch, then the following command stops the service:

sc stop a2antimalware

A batch file with that command will need to be run as an administrator. You can append the code from BatchGotAdmin to the beginning of the batch file to get it to automatically prompt for administrative rights when you double-click on it, and that way you can skip the extra step of right-clicking and selecting "Run as administrator" each time you launch it. ;)

If you're not familiar with batch, then you can do the following to manually stop the service:

  • Hold down the Windows key on your keyboard (the one with the Windows logo on it, usually between the Ctrl and Alt keys) and tap R to open the Run dialog.
  • Type in services.msc and click OK.
  • Look for Emsisoft Protection Service in the list.
  • Right-click on the Emsisoft Protection Service, and select Stop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, I will use this as a workaround from now on.

 

And I will most definitely be keeping my fingers crossed hoping that the hardware ID derivation

algorithm can be toned down a bit in the future, so that hotswappable SATA HDDs

can be used without any license reactivation prompts ...

 

Again, I'm just talking about adding (and later removing) one measly additional HDD,

not changing the whole HDD config ...

 

:unsure::)^_^

 

Best regards,

Raynor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can you configure the SATA ports that you are using for your hotswappable bays as eSATA in your BIOS? If so, then that might resolve the issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for this interesting tip, but unfortunately that's not possible.

 

My Mainboard is a bit older (from 2010) and has neither eSATA ports

nor any eSATA-related configuration settings in the BIOS.

 

But when I upgrade my system in the "forseeable" future, I will keep this in mind.

 

Thanks again,

Raynor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.