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What Is A Dongle Key. How Does A Dongle Work?

Olga Weis Olga Weis Aug 25, 2022

This article is all about Dongles. You’ll find answers to the top questions people have about USB Security Dongles. So, if you’ve ever asked any of the following questions:

  1. What is dongle?
  2. How does a dongle work?
  3. What are the types of dongle?
  4. What is the purpose of a dongle?
  5. What is the best security key?

What Is A Dongle Key?

The word dongle is of uncertain or anonymous origin according to the authoritative Oxford University Press. We are using the term here to describe small pieces of equipment used for various purposes in a computing environment.

Often referred to as a "Dongle" or a "Key", they function as software protection dongles. Dongles are a piece of hardware that, when connected to computers (or other electronic devices), permit specified software to function or allow for content decoding.

what is dongle key

Dongles allow access limitations to certain software based on who possesses the dongle.

Programmed with product keys or other such cryptographic security protection, dongles utilize electrical connections to external computers/device ‘buses’.

How Does A Dongle Work?

Dongles are beloved software protection hardware. Dongles are two-interface security tokens utilizing transient data flow.

Transient data flow occurs thanks to a "pull communication" which reads security data stored on the Dongle, itself. Softwares that use Dongles will either run in restricted mode or not at all if a Security Dongle is not plugged in.

Types of dongles

Different types of dongles are used as security keys or adapters. Initially, dongles were connected to PCs through parallel ports or ADB ports for Macs. Modern dongles often make use of USB ports. Today, the most common way to use these devices is to obtain the software protection of a dongle from a USB flash drive.

wireless sync dongle


Some dongle types serve as adapters to extend a computer’s functionality. A dongle can be used to provide alternate connectivity options for a laptop machine. The new, thin profile laptops are not equipped with an Ethernet port, making it difficult to establish a wired Internet connection. An Ethernet adapter dongle can solve the problem. The device has a USB connector at one end, about three inches of cable, and an Ethernet connector on the other end. For dongles compatible with Macs, a Thunderbolt connector will replace the USB connector.

security dongle

Security Keys

Security dongles are designed to prevent software piracy and provide copy protection for software products. A USB dongle offers software protection by limiting or eliminating the functionality of a software solution in the absence of a security key. The dongle is included with the associated software and must be connected to the computer on which the program will run. The correct USB software license protection dongle key must be recognized or the program will generate an error message and will not function properly.

HASP dongle

What is a HASP dongle? HASP stands for Hardware Against Software Piracy (HASP). A HASP dongle prevents software privacy by requiring its use to access a program’s functionality. The USB software protection dongle needs to be connected to the port before users can access the protected application. HASP dongles can be used instead of verifying serial numbers or other types of authentication. The dongle can also be used to provide access to an application’s advanced features or for other business purposes. Dongles can be convenient but can also be frustrating to use.

What Is Dongle Used For?

What is the purpose of a dongle? As outlined above, it is a piece of hardware that limits access to software. Basically, once a security dongle is set-up with a specific software (e.g. CAD software), only people who have access to the dongle can access the software.

There’s often more expensive piracy prevention software included since you not only have to have the software installed, but the physical device (the Dongle), as well.

While software protection Dongles are a great security tool, issues arise if you have more than one person needing access to software that utilizes a Dongle.

For example, if you gave someone a copy of the software, and they don’t have the physical security Dongle, the software is inaccessible.

However, there is an easy and reliable solution that allows you to expand access to software using software protection Dongles!

That solution is the software called Donglify.

How To Access USB Dongles Remotely

Donglify is the best software solution for USB Security Dongles. Donglify makes managing hardware Dongles easy, efficient, and affordable.

Donglify is compatible with numerous types of Dongles. One of the most noteworthy features that Donglify offers is accessing software security Dongles remotely over a network connection.

Regardless of their location, Dongle functionality is sharable with remote users connected to a network. Using Donglify means distance and software security are no longer mutually exclusive.
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What is the purpose of a Dongle?

Dongles can be used in a wide variety of instances to add functionality to a computer or safeguard a software solution. Different types of USB dongles can be used in the following situations.

  • A security dongle can prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data. The dongle can be used to verify authorization and encrypt data to enhance security.
  • Memory sticks are specialized USB dongles that provide additional storage capacity to the connected computer. They also make it easy to transfer files between devices or share information with friends or colleagues.
  • Bluetooth dongles add Bluetooth capability to computers without that native functionality. A Bluetooth dongle allows users to connect to devices such as wireless keyboards and headphones.
  • Adapter dongles enable users to connect many types of devices to their computer despite it not being equipped with the necessary ports. A dongle can eliminate the need for additional cabling and reduce the clutter involved with connecting devices to a computer.
  • A wireless sync dongle can be used to transfer data from a mobile device directly to a computer or supplemental storage media.
  • Gamers use dongles to enhance console functionality with features like improved audio or video quality.
  • Dongles can be designed as mobile modems allowing devices to establish wireless broadband Internet connectivity without a wired connection.
  • Dongle-shaped devices are used by digital media players like the Roku to facilitate video streaming by connecting to the HDMI or AV ports on televisions.

What Is The Best Security Key?

Not sure where to start when shopping for a Dongle? Are you still asking what is a HASP Key?

Below is a selection of popular Dongle’s and their features (compatible with Donglify), making it even easier to choose the best software protection Dongle for your needs.

What Is The Sentinel HASP?

Sentinel HASP uses protected application binary code to function. Software applications are designed requiring specific Sentinel HASP Protection Keys before they can be used. Users first install the protected software and then connect the key to their machine to access its full functionality. HASP keys come in two different varieties that can address specific usage scenarios.

  • Sentinel HASP HL - The HASP HL key connects to a computer’s USB interface.
  • Sentinel HASP SL - A HASP SL key sends data via internet connection to the HASP Business Studio Server. The user then installs a Sentinel HASP SL Key that’s been returned from the server.

Sentinel HASP makes managing your ISV licensing and protection systems effortless. With a flexible and user-friendly UX, it’s easy to master your device. Utilizing “Cross-locking” technology, keep all marketing and engineering facets of your business conveniently organized.

Designed with a plethora of features, specialized security Dongles are an ideal solution for a multitude of uses.

What Is The SafeNet eToken 5110

The SafeNet eToken 5110 Dongle helps you stay compliant and maintain security and privacy regulations. eCommerce companies can get a lot out of this Dongle, as it’s great for protecting online networks and assets.

This Dongle provides added remote network protection with two-factor authentication. If needed, you can also add pre-boot and digital signature authentication.

Here’s a feature highlight:

  • You don’t need a dedicated reader to use this portable USB dongle
  • Digital signatures & pre-boot authentication available
  • FIPS- certified and Common Criteria versions are available
  • Enhance company-wide efficiency and access remote systems securely
  • People of all skill-levels can use the SafeNet eToken 5110 dongle easily

What Is The CodeMeter CmStick

The CodeMeter Digital Rights Management System is supported entirely by the CmStick. Conveniently compact, the CmStick comes with 328 Kb of space. Now you can securely store THOUSANDS of licenses thanks to the additional memory.

Storing multiple licenses from multiple vendors provides unmatched convenience in software protection that no modern business can live without.

Here are key features worth noting:

  • Using patented hymap firmware, the Hyperstone U9 Flash Controller gives you the durability, reliability and data defense you need without sacrificing power.
  • CodeMeter uses the Infineon SLM97 smart card chip.
  • The CmSecureDisk (an optionally encrypted partition in the flash memory of the device) permits secure storage for software generated information or configuration details verified by CodeMeter API.

What Is The Yubico HASP

If you need to log into online accounts/services, Yubico’s YubiKey 5 NFC is a fantastic option. The Yubico HASP’s deceptively simple packaging conceals a surprisingly powerful device.

Here are key features worth noting:

Here are the YubiKey 5’s notable features:

  • Conveniently attaches to a keyring
  • Uses a gold disk permitting sign-in confirmation
  • Water-proof and very durable
  • Supports Smart Card, OpenPGP, OTP, FIDO U2F, and FIDO security standards
  • Utilizes USB-A and wireless connection for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android security capabilities
  • Very reliable USB-A ports for mobile devices

What Is The Google Titan Key

The Google Titan Key uses a Bluetooth connection to function. The USB security key dongle connects with a USB-A or USB-C, and is also Bluetooth-compatible. The only drawback is that the Titan Key needs a micro USB port to charge (when using the Bluetooth feature).

What Is The Kensington Key

The Kensington Key is a specialized piece of hardware by VeriMark utilizing fingerprint security. It is compatible with Windows Hello Fingerprint Scanner and U2D Security Keys thanks to multi-functional capabilities. You do need to download and install a software drive in order to use the fingerprint reader, though.

Dongles Work Better With Donglify

We hope this article answers the question of “what is a HASP key?” and “what are different types of Dongles”? As you can see, software security Dongles are a very important protection measure, and Donglify makes them even more convenient and effective.

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