What is the difference between a USB dongle and a softkey?

Installation and Licensing



PowerFactory licences are based on either a softkey (non-physical data medium) or a USB dongle (physical USB device). Unless otherwise requested, a new licence is being provided based on a softkey. The choice of the licence being based on a softkey or a dongle should be made depending on the particular PowerFactory setup. For better deciding which option fits best to your needs, refer to the information below.

A softkey licence:

  • is bound to a specific computer and is the ideal solution for setups where the Licence resides on server machines (as it does not block a USB port) or on PC workstations with PowerFactory serving a single user (the softkey being stored on the machine itself, one may neither forget nor lose the licence as it may happen with an USB dongle);
  • licence allows for minimal lead times of setup and installation due to no shipping/postage delays (as it would be the case for a USB dongle);
  • cannot be used in a virtual machine (VM) environment. Make sure to request a USB dongle instead if a Virtual Machine environment is needed;
  • may be moved from one machine to another but not more often than two times per calendar year;
  • stores the licence in a file on disk only upon activating the licence via the LicenceManager application.


A USB dongle licence:

  • is not bound to a specific computer hence, for example, a Single-User Edition licence can be used non-concurrently by different users on different machines (this is typical for consultants sharing one licence).
  • can be used in virtual environments (i.e. with a VM) by connecting the dongle either to the USB port of the physical machine hosting the VM or to a “USB via network solution” device port.
  • stores the licence on a USB Dongle only upon activating the licence via the LicenceManager application.