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Decoding FactoryTalk Activation

7/27/21  |  Joe Amorese, Rexel Technical Consultant

Over time, Rockwell Automation® deployed different software activation techniques. For us old-timers, there were EVRSI activations. These were 1.44 floppy disks, and the activation was physically moved off the floppy to a local hard drive. That technology no longer supported was replaced with FactoryTalk® Activation. Rockwell Automation would convert the EVRSI to FactoryTalk Activation at no cost. The original FactoryTalk Activation used Flexera technology and most recently moved to CodeMeter.

The Age of Flexera FactoryTalk Activation

Flexera was a major technology leap over EVRSI. Flexera allowed the flexibility to activate to a local machine, to a network share file or to a physical dongle by associating the activation to a physical host ID like a hard drive serial number, NIC card MAC address, or a dongle serial number. The latter two allowed license sharing or borrowing and management tools to manage borrowing like a library book. Flexera uses a product serial number and product key for activation. FactoryTalk Activation was made via the web and a *.LIC text file was generated with the host ID, serial number, and product key. If the computer with the Rockwell Automation® software did not have Internet access, then another computer with access could enter the host id, serial number, and product key and generate a .LIC file for at PC and sneaker net the file to the FactoryTalk Activation Manager of the non-web pc. 

The Change to CodeMetercodeme

In 2018 with V20 release of RSLogix 5000®software, Rockwell Automation introduced a new method of activation for FactoryTalk Activation called CodeMeter. The CodeMeter activation method was introduced to add functionality that the Flexera method does not support. When this happened, CodeMeter and Flexera co-existed and most of us did not notice or care which was being used or why.

The Difference Between the Two

All the latest versions of Rockwell Automation software, including FactoryTalk Activation, now use CodeMeter. Both CodeMeter and Flexera activations are activated by using a serial number and a product key. Flexera Activations created an unencrypted text .lic file that is stored on either the computer hard drive or on the Flexera dongle, if using a dongle. And the .lic file(s) need to be on every computer or stored on the dongle memory.

CodeMeter Activations create a .wibu file that can be stored on the hard drive or be associated with a CodeMeter dongle. The encrypted file is supported on both 32- and 64-bit systems and cannot be edited and corrupted like a .lic file could. CodeMeter dongles and Flexera dongles use different technologies and are not compatible, so a CodeMeter activation needs a CodeMeter dongle. CodeMeter dongles also have a native Windows driver support, so it is a plug-n-play device simplifying the process of sharing activations between multiple computers.

Lastly, CodeMeter dongles can be used for both software activation and source protection (protecting intellectual property within the controller) simultaneously. But that will have to be the subject of another blog.

If you have any questions about FactoryTalk Activation, contact us today!