ARCHICAD Protection Key Compatibility

by GRAPHISOFT, Greg Kmethy, Gábor Almási and Ákos Karóczkai · updated: 06.16.2016

ARCHICAD Protection Key Types

ARCHICAD requires a hardware or software protection key to run in unlimited “full” or “commercial” mode. The following protection key types exist to date:


Make Connection type Introduced
With Version
With Version
CodeMeter software-based protection key download ARCHICAD 18 ARCHICAD 10-203
CodeMeter hardware key USB ARCHICAD 13 ARCHICAD 10-203
Rainbow Sentinel ADB, LPT 4.16 on Windows
6.0 on Mac
4.16-6.0 on Windows
6.0; 6.5; No backward compatibility on Mac1
Microguard ADB 5.0 on Mac 5.0; 5.1; No backward compatibility1



  1. The old Mac protection key (type Microguard for versions 5 and 5.1 and type Rainbow Sentinel for versions 6.0 and 6.5) was not backward-compatible, however the ARCHICAD Install CD contained the previous ARCHICAD version recompiled to run with the new protection key
  2. The ARCHICAD 7.0 CD contained a special version of Archicad 6.0 (r5/v5), Archicad 6.5 (r4/v4), which runs with WIBU key.
  3. To run ARCHICAD 10-12 with CodeMeter, the CodeMeter Enabler is required.

Protection Key Troubleshooting Guides


CodeMeter hardware-based protection key

CodeMeter software-based protection key

WibuKey compatibility


Products supported: ARCHICAD 6.0 and upwards, MEP Modeler, EcoDesigner

WibuKey was introduced with ARCHICAD 7.0, however the ARCHICAD 7.0 CD contained a special version of Archicad 6.0 (r5/v5), Archicad 6.5 (r4/v4), which runs with WIBU key. The WibuKey licenses are backward compatible, meaning that with an ARCHICAD 13 license you can run anything from ARCHICAD 6.0r5 to ARCHICAD 13.

With a single key, you can run as many ARCHICAD copies (any version of it) on the same computer as you like. If you are connected to a NET Key, running multiple copies of the same ARCHICAD version uses one license. Running copies of different ARCHICAD versions may use one or more licenses from the Key Server, depending on the protection “version group” of ARCHICAD. These ARCHICADs belong to the same version group:

With ARCHICAD 16 licenses:

  • ARCHICAD 6.0; 6.5; 7.0
  • ARCHICAD 8; 8.1; 9; 10; 11; 12
  • ARCHICAD 13; 14
  • ARCHICAD 15; 16

With ARCHICAD 17 licenses each ARCHICAD version belongs to a separate version group:


With ARCHICAD 18 licenses:

  • ARCHICAD 17, 16, 15, 14, 13
  • earlier ARCHICAD versions

Note for users upgrading to ARCHICAD 13: if you start ARCHICAD on the same machine where the key is plugged, then ARCHICAD 13 will use it as a Single key, and no other users can reserve licenses on this key. This behavior is new in ARCHICAD 13! To run ARCHICAD on the key-server machine:

  • disable ‘Local’ Subsystem in the WkConfig .app (Mac) or in the WIBU Control Panel (PC)
  • specify server address (localhost) as the WkLAN Server.
  • Then run the Wibu server
  • Start ARCHICAD.

The future of WibuKey /!\

ARCHICAD 18 released in 2014 is the last version that supports Wibu (green) Hardware Keys. All further ARCHICAD versions will only support CodeMeter (Hardware Key) and CodeMeter Act (Software Key) protection technology.

In order to run further ARCHICAD versions the existing WibuKeys must be replaced with hardware or software protection keys.

Hardware-based protection key compatibility

Products supported: ARCHICAD 10 and upwards, MEP Modeler, EcoDesigner

CodeMeter key was introduced with ARCHICAD 13 in year 2009. CodeMeter keys can run however version 10, 11 and 12 too, if the following components are installed:

Running different versions of ARCHICAD (e.g. 10 and 15) simultaneously on the same computer will use one license from the CodeMeter NET key. It is possible to enable the License Borrowing feature in CodeMeter keys. (See Codemeter article for details)

 Software-based protection key compatibility

Products supported: ARCHICAD 13 and upwards, MEP Modeler, EcoDesigner

Software-Based Protection Keys – or Software Keys for short – have the same functionality as Hardware-Based Protection Keys, but instead of storing software licenses on an USB stick, the licenses are stored in a software container file on your computer. Software keys use the same CodeMeter technology as the metal USB keys most ARCHICAD users currently have. This means that any ARCHICAD version that is natively compatible with the CodeMeter keys (ARCHICAD 13 or higher) will also be compatible with the Software Key.

CodeMeter Software key was introduced with ARCHICAD 18 in year 2015. CodeMeter software keys can run however version 13-17 too. To be able to use the software based protection keys, the following components are required:

  • CodeMeter driver – optional install from ARCHICAD install disk (v.13 and above) or available on the Codemeter Download Page.
  • License Manager Tool (LMT) – The License Manager Tool is a software tool that enables you to manage GRAPHISOFT product licenses on your Protection Key.
  • GRAPHISOFT ID along with a GRAPHISOFT ID company.

Running different versions of ARCHICAD (e.g. 13 and 15) simultaneously on the same computer will use one license from the Software-Based Protection key (either single or NET). It is possible to enable the License Borrowing feature in Software-Based Protection keys from ARCHICAD 19.

Note: Please upload the borrowed licences back to the pool before saving with Time Machine.


Compatibility with remote access software

Remote desktop

Remote desktop solutions allow one or more users to remotely sign in on one particular computer. Based on the nature of these technologies multiple users may be signed in on the same computer, so for this a NET (network) license is required. Each active user will require a separate license, so for example if you allow three different users to log in simultaneously on a computer a NET 3 license will be required. If you only access your work computer from home only one license will be required. If you need to convert your single license to a NET one, contact your local distributor.

A couple of remote desktop solutions:

Screen sharing

Screen sharing works on a little bit different way. Usually one client’s screen is being shared and the control is at one viewer. As a result, a single license is enough for this.

Couple of examples:

  • VNC / OS X’s built in Screen sharing
  • Teamviewer,, GotoAssist, GotoMeeting, LogMeIn

Mixing Keys in the same Network

It is not recommended to run different key types in the same Network (e.g. a NET WibuKey and a NET CodeMeter Key). Use either WibuKey or CodeMeter.

Mixing WibuKey driver versions

AC 13 will not run if client and server WIBUkey drivers are different versions.

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