Hi I want an easy way to hardware lock an exe file to a specific system so that when a user copies that file to another system it does not open.

  • Do you have the ability to modify the .exe?
    – mti2935
    Oct 30, 2020 at 18:37
  • 2
    @CriticalSYS I think OP is talking about software that fingerprints the machine (memory, mac addresses, processor, disks, etc) it's on and won't run if that fingerprint changes. It's a licensing method that's not so common anymore.
    – gowenfawr
    Oct 30, 2020 at 18:50
  • @gowenfawr why is it not common?
    – cooker
    Oct 30, 2020 at 18:59
  • 1
    I think it's less common because a) virtualization makes it possible to break the system and b) the fragility issue of locking people out if they make changes to their system. 30 years ago licensing that locked on, for example, MAC address was common in the Unix world. I haven't seen licensing like that for a long time.
    – gowenfawr
    Oct 30, 2020 at 19:08
  • 4
    This is what you're going to get: "System dies. User who diligently backed everything up restores system to new hardware. App he paid money for no longer works. User hates company that charged him money for the app and tells everyone he knows that the company is garbage." Followed by: "Technically competent and very annoyed user reverse engineers copy protection, defeats it, and posts directions on defeating the protection to every online forum known to humanity and several alien races." Oct 30, 2020 at 19:37

1 Answer 1


There is no easy way. There are a dozen hardware lock companies out there, with USB hardware tokens, serial hardware tokens, things like that, and lots of articles, programs and forum posts on how to defeat the locks.

Take a look at the gaming industry, for example. They have billions of dollars, professional programmers, lots of resources, and still cannot create a copy protection system that works flawlessly. Most of the time they keep the legitimate users from playing, and let the pirates play. It's a losing battle.

Instead of locking the executable to one computer, do what vidarlo suggested: create a Software as a Service (SaaS) implementation, let the user create an account and use it. Lock down the account to only one user at a time.

It's cheaper, more convenient to the user, and works better than the old-fashioned hardware locks.

  • It's not a big software, I'm going to sell it to almost 100 people. I'm looking for an easy method to lock the final exe file to 1 PC so they can not just copy it and give it to their friends. It doesn't worth to implement complicated locks by myself.
    – cooker
    Oct 30, 2020 at 21:27

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