Strengths: Driverless dongle that can integrate into software applications for licensing
Weaknesses: Weak documentation and difficult to use
Verdict: Don't be put off by drawbacks. It's well worth a look if you are adding hardware licence protection to products
SecureMetric SecureDongle X provides licence protection so that software developers can protect their software against piracy by requiring that the dongle be present to use the software. It includes many features to allow developers to integrate the dongle into their software easily.
We found the (free) software development kit (SDK) for this product to be quite easy to install. The installation took just a few minutes and was guided by an easy-to-follow setup wizard.
Using the product was a different story. It is broken up into several programs that we found to be confusing and difficult to use. This product is geared specifically to developers and you have to be a developer to understand how to use it most effectively. We attribute this to the poor documentation.
The dongle can protect various types of files, including flash, .NET and Win-32 executables. Parameters such as time or date expiration and various encryption options can be set. The dongle itself is an HID (hardware ID) standard device, making it driverless on the PC. It does not have a footprint on the computer on which it is used because the driver is on the dongle. This allows lots of deployment flexibility. The dongle also supports remote update, so developers can update or upgrade software licences easily.
Documentation only included a short developer guide PDF that outlined product features and error codes. This was very basic and provided no installation or config information. The SDK has several pieces of example code, but the developer guide is poorly organised. The content does not always follow the chapter title and there is little guidance for using the examples in the manual.
SecureMetric offers both phone and email technical support 8/5. This includes help integrating the product with the customer's software. There is a small support section on the website with a short, marketing-related FAQ list of little technical depth, and product downloads.
At a price ranging from £1.95 to £3.55 per dongle, depending on quantity, we find that, while fairly inexpensive, this product is average value for the money. While it does provide some solid features, it is difficult to use and lacks solid documentation.