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Thread: Run program only from USB / copy protection

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    Run program only from USB / copy protection

    I've skimmed through a few articles both on this site and the general greater Internet on this topic but haven't found a definitive, yet layman's answer.

    Is it possible to have a program run on a dedicated USB thumb drive, disallowing the file from being moved, altered or copied? I know anything is possible with a computer file, but I'm looking at the average computer user for this one. I was thinking of releasing a program this way but want to protect it at a base level without drawn out online verifications. If the average user can't figure out how to duplicates it, I'm sated.

    So far, I think windows permissions may be my best bet. Those get wonky, though, and may limit which versions of windows will actually work with them.

    Any help, as always, is appreciated.

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    I don't think there are any easy ways to do it, or any ways to do it that aren't easily circumvented. If you want to release a game/application, then you might want to put it on a CD, and require that the CD is inserted (as an anti-piracy measure). For example, you could have it so that, without the CD, the game doesn't have every level, as the CD could store most of the levels. It could also disable the level editor (if there is one) without the CD. If the player attempts to access it anyway (by using a cheat program), you can make the game crash (there is an object dedicated to crashing your game/application).

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    I absolutely hate having to use up a USB port just to run one thing... I have a program that does this and I just ended up getting a crack for it so I could run it without the USB dongle. (even though I legally own the software)

    Please note I'm not advocating piracy here, but I'm just warning you that people do not enjoy having to physically hold on to something just to run a game or application. I have not used my CD drive in over a year. Please do not put it on a CD or on USB.

    At this point I think even the average computer user can figure out how to download a pirated copy of your software/game. You're better off not wasting time with it and just letting honest people buy your product and dishonest people pirate it.

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    Run program only from USB / copy protection

    Yeah, i know all the protective stuff is annoying as hell. It does lend an image of legitimacy to a product, however. This product has a super specific use and I need it to be portable, meaning the user can take it with them to use on any computer, but not necessarily leave it every computer they use. I saw a similar product that exists on a USB drive. I'm curious what method of protection they use. Perhaps that's just the method of release and it still goes online for the serial.

    I'm not really worried about a mass-pirate, I'm trying to prevent the average half-literate computer user from duplicating the product everywhere they take it.

    I have a kludgy workaround if there's no file protection options. Since its a small market, I just manually put in a boot screen with the buyers general info and a "serial number". Any cracker could get around that but the average computer user might be too scared to leak a program with their name on it.

    Again, this is a very small-scale program.

    And thanks for the input!

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    Clicker Fusion 2.5 DeveloperAndroid Export ModuleHTML5 Export ModuleiOS Export Module

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    use some kind of serial system?

    also, does clickteams installer program not do serials?

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    I've seen USB authentication and copy protection from Nexcopy. Check their site. Ratty - You will never restrict someone from moving a file off the USB, but you can certainly prevent that file from working if it is moved off the flash drive.

    salamanderpants - encryption is different then copy protection. Encryption means a password is assigned to the content, but once entered and file decrypted the user can do anything they want with it. Ratty wants a little more...he wants it where the file can be used, but not copied, no matter how honest the user is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by salamanderpants View Post
    Thanks 27ragbag, but I know what the difference is between encryption and copy protection. I had thought that encrypted USB drives may have a copy protect feature where you can enter a password to unlock limited access to the file(s) - access where it cannot be copied.
    This is impossible, literally. Any file(s) can be copied (removable media) using any version of Windows whether USB, SSD, CD, Floppy... There are a couple of ways you could protect the file, it just depends how deep and long-winded you want to make it.

    Stamping and checking the volume serial for example is one routine, secondly you could make some files 'hidden' and 'system' files to give basic protection, however volume serial is probably your best bet if you want to dedicate the time and effort into a more forceful method.

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    Run program only from USB / copy protection

    Thanks for all the great responses. I checked out Nexcopy and found they only support certain file types. Exe isn't one of them. I'm going to email them and see if they have any options. http://www.nexcopy.com/usb-copy-protection/

    As for the other methods mentioned, ill look into them. Ill be sure to keep you all posted once I figure a way to do this.

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    I used kakasoft USB copy protector to do this job for me, it protects all files in my USB form copy,Delete,Save as,Print and so on. It's very useful to me! But if you just need protect one USB drives , there is a little waste, because it selled by 10 USB Drives for $50 more or less. What ever, you can have a look at first.

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    If it's a personal USB I would use TrueCrypt, that program is awsome to encrypt and secure files on USB for personal usage. But from what I read you need copy-protection software for your USB, and not just encryption software. You should try USB-Cops from Link Data Security they support all kinds of files, but just like kakasoft it's not freeware so don't use this for a single USB.

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