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USB-eLicenser/Steinberg Key - Details, Tips and Troubleshooting

The USB-eLicenser is a small USB key which has been around in the audio software industry for several years now. Its only purpose is to store licenses for eLicenser protected software and allows customers to use their software on any system the key is connected to.
In December 2008, Steinberg Media Technologies accquired the eLicenser technology from Syncrosoft to open a new area of business and to expand the platform. The biggest advantage of this platform surely is that only one USB-eLicenser is needed to store any license from these companies (as of June, 2014):

Algorithmix · Arturia · Axis Plugins · Eiosis · Iosono · Real Sound Lab · reFX
Vengeance Sound · Vienna Symphonic Library · VirSyn Software Synthesizer · Waldorf · XILS-lab

Part of the new eLicenser concept is that there are no company specific names for the USB-eLicenser anymore and thus the former Steinberg Key is now called USB-eLicenser as well. Apart from the naming, old and new USB-eLicensers are still compatible with each other.
The administration of the USB-eLicensers and their contained licenses is done using the eLicenser Control Center (eLCC). The latest version can be downloaded on

Please keep in mind:

The licenses stored on the USB-eLicenser represent the entire value of the products you bought! Don't lose it and be sure to register your products and/or the USB-eLicenser with the respective manufacturers!

Content overview 

1. Technical troubleshooting for the USB-eLicenser
2. Procedures for lost/defective USB-eLicensers
3. Missing licenses
4. License transfers to other USB-eLicensers
5. Some more information on the USB-eLicenser

1. Technical troubleshooting for the USB-eLicenser

The USB-eLicenser is not recognised by the system but the red LED lights up. What can I do?

  • Please download the current version of the eLicenser Control Center. This software package always includes the USB-eLicenser driver as well. The latest version is available on:
  • Connect the USB-eLicenser to another USB port.
    Windows: If it is the first time, a USB-eLicenser is connected to that port, the Windows Hardware Detection Wizard should come up. Do not cancel it. Instead, guide the Wizard to install the USB-eLicenser driver automatically.
  • Is the USB-eLicenser connected to a USB hub? Please connect it to a USB port on the computer itself instead. Especially when using a passive hub with other devices connected as well, you could be facing a power supply problem. The key itself is not very demanding, but maybe the hub just can't deliver enough power for all connected devices. If you cannot avoid using a hub, an active one (with its own power supply) is generally recommended.
  • Mainly Windows: Virus scanners, internet security programs and tweaking tools can interfere with the installation of the eLicenser software and drivers. Please disable these applications at least for the time of installation.
  • Does the USB-eLicenser work on another system? To check this, simply install the above mentioned eLicenser Control Center on that system and connect the USB-eLicenser. If it works now, you can rule out the USB-eLicenser as the reason.

If none of the above mentioned approaches help, you can find some more advanced tips below:

  • Mac OS X & Windows: Taking this one step further would be a manual removal of all files related to the eLCC and USB-eLicenser key driver followed by a new installation of the eLCC. A detailed explanation can be found here.
  • Windows: A note for users with nVidia nForce3 chipsets: Some old Steinberg Keys (key numbers are xxx 523 326 or lower) do not work with this specific chipset family and need to be replaced with a new eLicenser (see chapter 2 for details). Another solution is to connect the USB-eLicenser to an active USB hub.
  • Windows:  Please make sure you have installed a recent version of chipset drivers for your mainboard to ensure proper USB controller support for your operating system. Download the current chipset drivers from the vendor of the chipset/mainboard. If you are not sure where to find this information contact your dealer or the manufacturer of your computer or have a look at the manual of the mainboard.
  • Windows: Virus Scanner and Internet Security software might be blocking access to system files and folders and can be a reason why the driver installation may fail. Disable such software temporarily when starting installation of software/drivers.

2. Procedures for lost/defective USB-eLicensers

I have accidentally lost my USB key! Does it get replaced by Steinberg?

  • Again, the USB-eLicenser is the most vital part of your product!
    Please make sure to have all eLicensers registered in MySteinberg so that they are known. Without a MySteinberg account and a USB-eLicenser registration, no replacement is possible.
    Now, in case the USB-eLicenser has been lost or stolen, please contact your local support for further information on how to proceed.
    It might make sense to have an empty spare USB-eLicenser at hand as we only replace the licenses stored on the lost/stolen key (if all preconditions are met).

The USB-eLicenser I just bought does not work (the red LED inside the key does not light up when connected). It appears to be just dead (Dead On Arrival, manufacturing error). How do I get it replaced?

  • Please return the whole product package to your dealer or contact our technical support for a replacement.

My USB-eLicenser worked fine but now it has ceased to function and appears to be defective without any physical damage.

  • In this case please contact our technical support for a replacement of your licenses. Also, if the USB-eLicenser is not physically damaged and is still within the 2-year warranty period, we'll send you a new USB-eLicenser free of charge. Please make sure that the key has been registered in MySteinberg before contacting us!

I broke my USB-eLicenser!

  • You need to buy a new empty USB-eLicenser.
    Please make sure that the defective key has been registered in MySteinberg before contacting us for any license replacement.  
    The new activation code(s) can then be downloaded to the new USB-eLicenser using the eLicenser Control Center. 

3. Missing licenses

I have received a product package with apparently no activation code included.

  • If a USB-eLicenser is included, please attach it to the computer, start the eLicenser Control Center and check whether the license is already on the eLicenser. If not, please confirm that no Essential Product License Information sheet is available. Maybe it slipped into the printed manual or is still stuck in the product box?

When I try to download a license with the supplied activation code the eLCC keeps telling me the code is unknown or already used.

  • First of all, make sure that the most current eLCC version is installed. You can download that version from and install it, then try the activation procedure again. If that did not help either, contact our technical support.
    If you received a product box that is not shrink-wrapped, the activation code has probably been used already. Return the whole package immediately.

My USB key is displayed in the eLCC but all licenses are suddenly gone.

4. License transfers to other USB-eLicensers

I have two or more USB-eLicensers (possibly form different companies) with licenses. Can I transfer them onto one single USB-eLicenser?

  • Yes, by using the transfer wizard in the eLicenser Control Center. You need an active internet connection for this procedure.
    Please keep in mind that a license transfer is not possible with standard USB memory sticks or other protection solutions like iLok.

I have one or more empty USB-eLicenser now. What should I do with them?

  • Just keep them! You might need them as a replacement because you accidentally damaged your USB-eLicenser currently in use or it got stolen and Steinberg provided you with replacement activation codes.

I still have a Cubase VST 5 (or Nuendo 1.x, Nuendo Surround Edition or Nuendo Dolby Digital Encoder) dongle that is connected to the printer port. Can licenses be transferred from LPT key to a USB-eLicenser?

I cannot transfer (or download/activate) a license, I get an error about a pending license.

  • It could be that the internet connection got lost or something else (background applications like firewalls) prevented a successful transfer. If you have a pending license, please restart the eLicenser Control Center and try using the "Maintenance" option. If that doesn't help, please contact our technical support . Provide them with all USB-eLicenser numbers and activation codes involved.

5. Some more information on USB-eLicenser relevant topics

I have heard that different hardware revisions of the USB-eLicenser exist. What are the differences and is there an impact on applications using this USB-eLicenser?

  • Products which have been released between April 2002 and mid 2003 have been delivered with a USB-eLicenser of 6.5 cm (2.6 inches) in length. A new hardware revision has been included since then and these newer USB-eLicensers are a bit shorter and have a length of ~5 cm (2 inches). The newer USB-eLicensers are using a faster processor. When working with complex Cubase or Nuendo projects, the hardware revision of the USB-eLicensers can have an effect on the responsiveness of the application in certain areas. So if you are using an older, longer key it might be useful to replace it with a new USB-eLicenser. In this case please contact your dealer or national distributor to purchase a new, empty USB-eLicenser onto which you can transfer the license(s) via the eLicenser Control Center.

  • The generic "eLicenser" keys have a dark blue and almost intransparent housing with no key number sticker inside anymore (see image below). The latest revision is the most compact and solid one.

Four USB-eLicenser generations in chronological order from left to right

I have one of the generic eLicensers. Where can I find its number now?

  • Please attach the USB-eLicenser to the computer and open the eLicenser Control Center. In the eLCC, all connected eLicensers are listed, showing a 12-13 digit number (USB-eLicenser) or 20 digit number (Soft-eLicenser). This number is also needed to register the eLicensers in MySteinberg. So please make sure to have all keys registered in MySteinberg right after you bought them to have a comprehensive list of all your eLicensers.

  • Even if you had no chance to register the key or to note down the key number before it became defective or was stolen, the key number(s) are still available on the system if you have the latest eLicenser Control Center installed. The file containing the numbers can be found in these locations:

    • Win XP
      C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\eLicenser\Logs\POS_Used_eLicenser_Serialnumbers.log
    • Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10
    • Mac OS X

Why do I need an internet connection for downloading and activating a license or for transferring them to another USB-eLicenser?

  • First of all: Each USB-eLicenser has a unique ID - the USB-eLicenser number. All actions like downloading and activating a license, license transfers from one key to another and deleting a license (do not try this) are logged by a license server in the internet and can be associated to the USB-eLicenser number. By looking up the status of a key and its stored licenses, we can e.g. provide you with replacement activation codes. It is also possible to track movements of licenses from one USB-eLicenser to another.
    The usage of activation codes is also logged and in case you receive a software package with a used activation code, it is possible to find the eLicenser the license was downloaded to.

  • All transactions logged by the license server are strongly encrypted and do not contain any private or personal data of you. Only specifically authorized personnel from Steinberg can access the license database server to look up data by either using an USB-eLicenser number or an activation code. Distributors in need for replacement activation codes are requesting them from Steinberg only.

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