A dongle is a small device that plugs into the USB drive of a computer. Dongles offer different functionalities, such as providing mobile internet access, speeding data transfer, running secured software, or connecting multiple devices to the computer.
In short, the term “dongle” is defined as any small device that plugs into the Universal Serial Bus (USB) or other computer port, regardless of what it does. These devices are usually used to provide some function that is not built into the computer itself. This includes adding memory, supplying Bluetooth® and WiFi® connections, and adding adapters so that other devices can be plugged in. Commonly, mobile broadband USB modems are often referred to as "mobile dongles."
Within industries that frequently use secured software, the term is still used primarily for security devices.
Why is a dongle called a dongle?
No one knows where the word “dongle” originated. According to Oxford University Press, publisher of the famous English Dictionary, “dongle” is of uncertain, and anonymous, origin.
How does a security dongle work?
The software sends an encrypted request to the security dongle for a validation key, which is also encrypted.
This means that in order to crack the dongle, a hacker must first crack the encryption.
Early dongles were usually attached to a computer's serial port and used to secure software already loaded on the computer. While loading, the software would check for the presence of the dongle, and, if it didn’t find it, it wouldn't load. This system was vulnerable because a programmer could alter the software to not look for the dongle or to think it was present when it wasn't.
An even more secure approach stores encrypted bits of the software on the dongle itself, which the program calls for when it needs them. In this scenario, even if a hacker were to fool the software into thinking the device was present, the software would be unable to run because it would be missing key parts of its code.
Did You Know?
- A dongle is any small device that plugs into a computer’s USB port.
- Dongles can provide internet access, speed file transfer, secure software.
- Some dongles connect multiple devices to a computer.
- No one knows where the word “dongle” comes from.
How do other types of dongles work?
Non-security dongles work by including virtually all of the hardware and software needed within the device itself.
Make sure you’re buying the right kind of dongle for your needs, since there are so many types.
Can a dongle be used as wifi?
Yes. Wifi dongles, also called a USB wireless adapter or USB wifi adapter, include a network adapter that allows a computer to connect to the internet.
Although the computer must have the correct settings to make the broadband connection, the device contains the technology that allows the connection to be made.
What is a wireless sync dongle?
A wireless sync dongle is a dongle that communicates with a device, often a fitness device, and transfers its data to a computer.
What is a Bluetooth dongle?
A Bluetooth dongle connects a Bluetooth-enabled device, such as a mouse or keyboard, with a computer.
What problems do dongles have?
Common dongle problems relate to security and the use of locked software. They are also easily lost.
A few software companies have attempted to introduce dongle security with their consumer-oriented software without success, even though consumers are often familiar with USB technology.
As technology changes and new operating systems and hardware become more commonplace, older software that requires the device may no longer be usable.
Another common problem is that people may need to use more than one type of locked software at a time and the computer may not be able to accommodate all the different devices at once. Most dongles take up a port, and do not allow other devices to be plugged into them; a computer that only has two or three USB ports, for example, may already have a mouse, camera, or other device attached, leaving no room for anything else.
In addition, dongles are easily lost or damaged. Specialists such as video editors or audio engineers may be willing to put up with the inconvenience, but the average computer user is usually not.
To cope with these problems, some companies specialize in emulators that attempt to convince the computer that the dongle is present. These emulators are not always legal, however, as they are specifically designed to get around security issues.
When a person buys a piece of software, what he or she is really buying, most of the time, is a license to use the software. With that license, the user typically agrees to certain conditions, and using an emulator may break those rules.
If the person who purchased the software did so legally and does have the dongle, and/or if that piece of hardware no longer works correctly, it may be legal to use an emulator instead in some circumstances.
Are there dongle alternatives?
There are alternatives to using a dongle for security purposes, although they are not always as reliable.
Some programs have key codes that must be entered when the software is first installed; others only allow the program to be installed once.
In some cases, the computer running the software must have an internet connection so that it can regularly connect to the manufacturer's servers to confirm who is using the program. As with dongles, each of these security measures can cause problems for the user if they do not work correctly or if the software needs to be transferred to a new computer. In addition, nearly all such methods have been cracked.
What Is a Dongle?
The word "dongle" refers to a small piece of computer hardware that provides functionality to a smart phone, laptop, tablet, desktop computer, or other device by connecting to its port or enabling a passthrough to the device. Most dongles insert into a Universal Serial Bus (USB) port, but can also connect with any type of port.
While the exact origin of the term "dongle" is unknown, it is thought that it possibly originated as a corruption of the word "dangle" since these devices hang from PC ports. Originally, the word dongle referred to a type of security hardware that contained a piece of cryptographic protection that would only allow the software to operate when it was plugged in. Now, the term has been broadened to include a variety of devices of a similar "dangling" form with a wide range of uses.
What Is a Dongle Used For?
The purpose of a dongle is generally to add a functionality that the computer or other device does not have as a built-in feature, such as in the following instances.
- Dongles can serve as adapters for other devices, allowing easy cable installation and removal with short cables that enable large jacks to connect to smaller plugs without the need for multiple connectors.
- A memory USB dongle, also known as a memory stick, enables files to be passed easily between devices and increases a computer's storage capacity with an external storage option.
- Dongle devices can supply Bluetooth connections to computers that lack that built-in capability. Bluetooth dongles connect computers with Bluetooth-capable devices, such as wireless keyboards.
- A wireless sync dongle enables data transfer from a device, such as a fitness tracker, to a computer or storage device.
- Functioning as a mobile broadband modem, which enables a personal computer or router to access wireless internet through a mobile broadband connection rather than telephone or cable lines.
- Digital media players have adopted the dongle's stick-like form in products designed to plug into HDMI ports or AV receivers on televisions.
- Security dongles are used to keep unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information, providing security through encryption software and validation key.
- Dongles are widely used in the world of video games as they enable gaming consoles to gain features such as enhanced audio quality.
What Is a Dongle Cord?
A dongle cord is the wire that is part of a dongle device. Before USB became the standard for PC peripheral attachments, dongles came in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The term "dongle" still applies to a variety of forms. Some have cords and some do not. Cords are more likely to be a part of a dongle that is used as an adapter, as the cord can enable more devices to plug in to the computer and allows the dongle to function as a sort of extension cord for the computer.
What Is Dongle WiFi?
WiFi dongles are also known as USB WiFi adapters, USB wireless adapters, USB modems, internet sticks, USB mobile broadband sticks, or USB network adapters. These pocket-sized devices connect a smartphone, laptop, or tablet to the internet with use of a network adapter. They are popular because of the flexibility that they offer compared to fixed-line connections. A simple plug-and-go enables WiFi connection regardless of location or available internet services.
A WiFi dongle is essentially a tiny piece of hardware that can be plugged into the USB port of a laptop or desktop computer. The device accesses the internet using the same method as a cell phone, through 3G, 4G, and 5G wireless networks. These are popular for several reasons:
- Set up is easy with a mobile internet dongle and does not require a professional for installation.
- Dongles are generally provided for free when you sign a mobile wireless contract.
- The mobile broadband dongles charge on the laptop or computer battery, eliminating the need for additional chargers.
- For those who travel and need remote access to the internet without relying on public WiFi in airport lounges or restaurants, mobile internet dongles offer a simple solution.
- Dongles are extremely lightweight and portable, enabling you to easily carry them with you for use anywhere.
- If your property does not have fibre broadband, you may be limited to slower broadband speeds. A mobile internet dongle can provide access to higher speeds for a lower price.
- For remote workers, a WiFi dongle allows working from public places without the risks associated with using public internet networks, which are generally unsecured.
- Mobile broadband technology has improved in recent years, making dongles sleek, small, and fast compared to older models.