Licensing System - FAQs

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Use the following links to browse through frequently asked questions relevant to Altium Designer's licensing system. For further, more detailed information on aspects of the licensing system, use the links available in the panel to the right.

This On-Demand licensing seems so different, is it totally new?

The licensing system at its heart is pretty much the same as the current system but hides the activation process from the user. There is no longer any need to activate, or receive and add license files in a manual fashion – with the new On-Demand system, just sign in and your license will be available.

Is there still a Standalone license available?

Altium Designer supports the use of Standalone-type licenses. Standalone licensing allows you to effectively manage your own license through use of a Standalone licensing file (*.alf). This file can be saved, copied and backed-up as required. The .alf file is reusable on a home computer (in accordance with the EULA) simply by copying the file to a specific folder on that computer and then adding the file as part of Standalone License Configuration.

Do I need to be signed in to my account to use my Standalone license?

With a Standalone license, the only time you need to sign in to your Altium account (through the Altium portal), is when:

  • You are activating the license for the first time
  • You are reactivating the license (required for example when you have deleted the license and don't have a backup of the license file)
I used to be able to use my license seat at work and at home, is that still possible?

This is still very much possible and depends on the license type you are using. If using an On-Demand license in On-Demand mode, simply use your seat at the office and release it before you go home. Then, at home, access your license, use it and release it when finished.

If using a Standalone license, this is achieved as it always has been. Simply take a copy of the license file onto your home computer and work away – remembering of course, that you can not run the two installations of Altium Designer simultaneously.

Do I have to remain connected to the internet to use my On-Demand license?

You are in no way forced to stay connected to the internet (logged into the Altium portal) to use an On-Demand license. This is just one method in which you can use an On-Demand license – in On-Demand mode – for example where multiple users share the same license and they do not use Altium Designer all the time. To use an On-Demand license in an 'offline' (not signed in) mode, you can choose to roam with the license (Roaming mode).

OK, so what actually is Roaming?

The roaming aspect of an On-Demand license allows you to go 'offline' – you can take your computer where you like and whether there is an internet connection or not you will still be licensed. You need only sign-in to your account if you wish to return the license ahead of time, or if you want to extend the 'roam time'.

How long can I 'roam' with an On-Demand license?

The maximum time that you can roam with an On-Demand license is the life of the actual license itself. This is particularly relevant to timed licenses.

If you are roaming with a seat of an On-Demand license and the roaming period elapses, use of that seat will stop, with no grace period.

How do I get a license if I have no internet connection whatsoever?

Activation of Standalone and Private Server licenses can be performed directly from your web browser using the AltiumLive Dashboard. Access the Dashboard on a non work-critical PC (not running Altium Designer). Once you have obtained the required license file(s) (*.alf), you can take the file(s) to your normal, non-net-connected (and work-critical) PC. For more information, see License Activation.

Note that only Group Administrators for an Altium Account can access and use the AltiumLive Dashboard.

I've deleted my Standalone license file and didn't make a backup - what now?

Sign-in to your account – the Standalone license available to you will be presented in the Available Licenses region, shown as no longer being used. To use it again, simply reactivate the license, using the Reactivate option.

Alternatively, if you are a Group Administrator for your account, activate and acquire the license file through the AltiumLive Dashboard.

Why use the Altium Portal?

The Altium portal provides the possibility to deliver our users facilities that are linked securely to their account with Altium. The On-Demand licensing is just the latest in what is hoped will be a growing arsenal of portal-delivered features. Access to the SUPPORTcenter and installation management are two other, existing uses of the portal.

All of these elements are attainable through your secure (and unique) login to the portal using your Altium Account credentials. Moving forward, the portal – through account login – lays the foundation for a host of possibilities, such as delivery of features between releases and service packs. Device support, library updates and example reference designs are possible candidates for this.

Is connection to the Altium Portal secure?

All communication with the Altium portal is secure over https.

What information is Altium using when i'm connected to the Portal using an On-Demand license?

Altium uses the Altium Designer version, your sign-in credentials, and selected details of your computer's hardware (the MAC address and the HDD serial number). This information allows the license manager server to confirm valid license usage.

If you or your company are concerned about Altium knowing your license usage you are more than welcome to roam with the licenses, or use Standalone licenses. The same information is used to roam with a license as to activate the license under the old system.

OK, i'm using my license in On-Demand mode. Am I really connected permanently to the Altium Server hosting the licenses?

You do not remain permanently connected to the Server. Altium Designer communicates with the Altium portal by making a request and receiving a response. At that point the connection is closed. There will be numerous requests to sign in, request the available licenses to display, and so on, but each request is independent and then the connection closes.

What if my internet connection drops out, or the Altium server is unavailable?

While using an On-Demand license, Altium Designer will make a request to the Altium portal at regular intervals to renew the license, and also to see if someone has forced the release of your license remotely. If the Altium portal is unreachable for any reason, you will not lose your license and can continue to use it. Altium Designer will regularly try to restore the connection. Initially Altium Designer does this silently, though you may notice error indications in the title bar which go away once connection is re-established. If the Altium portal is unreachable for an extended period (say, a few hours or more) you will see message dialogs reminding you to re-establish your Internet connection to the Altium portal. You will still not lose your license.

Can I force-release a seat on a license?

It is possible to force-release a seat on a license that is being used in either On-Demand or Roaming modes. For example, if you forget to release your seat at work when you leave for the day, you can release it from your home computer then use the open seat at home. The extent of your 'release powers' depends on whether or not you have administrative rights to your licenses:

  • Have Administrative Rights – you can remotely release a seat used by any user. The seat they are using will be released and they will, following a grace period, lose the license.
  • No Administrative Rights – you can only release a seat that you are using (on another computer). The seat will be available again.

When force-releasing a seat of a license currently Roaming on another computer, you will be required to promise, under the Altium honor code, that you will not use, or allow others to use, the roaming license on that other computer after its release.

If a license seat is released remotely, does use of that seat stop abruptly?

If you are Roaming and your license has been released remotely, then you will not notice anything until you sign in. If you use an On-Demand license (or if you sign in while Roaming), the My Account page will display a warning that your license has been released remotely. At some point in the next 20 minutes, a warning dialog will appear alerting you to the fact that your license has been released remotely, and asking you to use another license to continue using Altium Designer. You will then have a further 20 minutes 'grace' use of the license, during which time you should select and use another license. After this time has elapsed, a second warning dialog will appear and use of the 'released' license will cease.

What happens if there are no seats left for the license?

All licenses have a count of one or more seats that can be used concurrently. Users can acquire the seats to use the license until the count is reached. Subsequent users will not be able to freely use the license, but are able to use it 'over the limit'. The system will regularly check to see if a seat has become available, and will continue to notify the users that they are over the seat limit, until such time as a seat becomes available and is subsequently acquired.

What happens if I run multiple instances of Altium Designer on the same machine?

Each instance of Altium Designer will maintain a seat of the license where, in each case, that license is an On-Demand license and is being used in On-Demand mode.

What happens when my license is expired?

On-Demand licenses will not expire. If, for some reason, there are errors during background license validation checks or license renewal, you can continue to use the license and save your work, but you will receive a message of some sort. The message will depend on the situation:

  • If you have lost your internet connection, a message will be displayed in Altium Designer's title bar alerting you to the fact that there is an "error signing in".
  • If your session in the portal has timed out for some reason, you may see a sign in dialog.
  • In other situations you may see a message that says "The Altium portal was not able to renew your license. Altium Designer will retry shortly."
I've seen a dialog stating "Secure Session Timeout....", what does this mean?

A session can timeout in several ways. If no requests are made to the portal for an hour or more, the session will timeout. The session will also timeout after about 12 hours, regardless of previous activity. If the portal gets restarted while you are signed in, this will also register as a session timeout.

What is a Private Server license?

Private Server licenses were previously known as Floating licenses. Your administrator sets up a Private License Server which is licenced by a Private Server license(s). Once the Private License Server is licensed, it can then serve licenses to local computers running Altium Designer. Users on the local network do not need to sign in to their Altium accounts to acquire the seats from the Private License Server.

This type of license works in much the same way as the Floating license type available in the Winter 09 release of Altium Designer (and earlier).

What ports need to be open to activate the software through the Private Server?

The Private Server communicates with Altium's activation systems through port 443. This port will need to be open to activate using this method.

Why do my Private Server .alf files not work when I add them to my Secondary Server?

During activation, the license files are encoded to be either 'Primary' or 'Secondary', depending on the type of Private License Server you have configured. 'Primary-encoded' license files can not be used with a Secondary server and vice-versa.

How can I fully backup my Private Server License?

To fully backup your Private Server license, you should activate the license on a computer set to be the Primary server and save the 'Primary-encoded' license file(s). Then activate the license on a second computer, set to be the Secondary server, and save the 'Secondary-encoded' license file(s).

Alternatively, if you are a Group Administrator for your account, activate the license through the AltiumLive Dashboard, selecting which type of server you wish to activate the license for. When activating for primary or secondary server, repeat the activation process for each supported release of Altium Designer that you wish the license to serve. For more information, see License Activation. As part of the activation process your browser will download the .alf license file(s).

If I move my server to another machine, do I have to add all of the .alf files?

An Altium Designer Summer 09 release Private Server license serves four versions of the software. If adding such a license back to your server, you can just add the .alf file(s) corresponding to the version(s) of software you wish to serve - you do not have to add all four license files. The Version field in the License Usage region will indicate which versions of the software the added license will serve.

I've deleted my Private Server license and didn't make a backup of the license files - what now?

Simply reactivate the license, using the Activate button in the Licensing dialog. Note that this requires you signing-in to your Altium account, and therefore will require connection to the internet.

Alternatively, if you are a Group Administrator for your account, activate your license again through the AltiumLive Dashboard.

I've installed the Private License Server, but can't see the icon to access the Licensing dialog. I'm using Windows Vista/Windows 7/Windows 2003 Server/Windows 2008 Server. Any Ideas?

The security model for Microsoft Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 2003 Server and later operating systems does not allow the icon for a Windows Service to be displayed while you are remote connecting into a computer that has that service. You will need to launch the Private License Server in "Application mode". For full details on how to do this, see Configuring the Private License Server on Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003 and above.

What happens if a user has access to multiple Private Server Licenses?

If a user has access to multiple Private Server licenses, and they open a document kind that is licensed by those multiple licenses, they will be prompted to select which license to use. Once a user has selected a license, they retain the use of that license until they close Altium Designer.

Can I see how and where the seat(s) of my license(s) are being used?

You can view license usage from the My Account page within Altium Designer (DXP » My Account). Simply click on the plus (+) symbol to the left of a license entry in the Available Licenses grid – the expanded details show who is using a seat of the license, and in which mode. The Private License Server can also provide information about license usage, refer to the article Private Server Licenses - Examining Usage for more details.

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