Licensing 101 - Altium License Types and Functions

Created: June 1, 2017
Updated: January 27, 2021

Current Licensing Structure

Altium Designer now provides a streamlined licensing system that enables you to get licensed and up and running with your Altium Designer software in a timely and efficient manner. The licensing system supports a variety of license usage models to suit the asset management needs of the individual or corporate infrastructure so you can  choose a license that's right for you now, and easily adjust as your business grows.

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Legacy Licensing Structure

Below is a brief outline of the legacy licenses types and some of their use cases.

Licensing in Altium Designer was integrated into an intricate and robust system of license file management, sharing, and usage. Altium Designer license files were shared with users in multiple Altium license types, each with its advantages and intended uses. A Standalone license file was intended for single users or single computers. Private Server licenses were intended for multiple users on a network, where each user can access the Altium Infrastructure Server, using the license on an “as needed” basis. On-Demand licenses, were by far the most popular, supporting a large number of environments, from a single user to multiple users, across all platforms and environments.

License Terms

Each license had an option for Term-Based on Perpetual, depending upon whether you wanted to make an upfront investment, or spread the cost out over time. Each have their own unique benefits.

Term-Based License

Benefit: Get high value from your design software at a lower upfront cost

Term-based licensing gives you access to Altium Designer for a specified period, for example, a 12-month term. Organizations can preserve cash flow and design teams have the flexibility to scale capacity with additional seats. This license also includes a subscription to provide you the latest updates for Altium Designer, support, access to Altium 365, and more.

✓ The fastest-growing licensing model—every year, an increasing number of Altium users choose term-based licenses over perpetual
✓ Active subscriptions provide access to Altium 365, the first cloud platform for electronics product design that unites PCB design, MCAD, data management, and teamwork
✓ Ideal for organizations that want to pay for licensing through their operating budget versus capital expenditure
✓ Includes the latest design technology updates, 24/5 support, and access to the AltiumLive community
✓ Term-Based offers an affordable price for as long as you need

Perpetual License

Benefit:  The ideal choice for companies or individuals that want total license ownership

Perpetual licensing allows you to pay once and use Altium Designer indefinitely. This license can help you estimate total cost of ownership, and capacity can be scaled with additional seats. Enrich your team’s creative process with a professional PCB design tool from a stable partner with a 30-year track record. When you maintain an optional subscription, you’ll also have access to the latest updates for Altium Designer, support, Altium 365, and more.

✓ A common choice for organizations that want to pay a single upfront cost for their software
✓ Perpetual offers long term savings
✓ Ideal for designers and organizations that want software ownership for the life of the product
✓ Includes the latest design technology updates, 24/5 support, and access to the AltiumLive community with an optional subscription
✓ Active subscriptions provide access to Altium 365, the first cloud platform for electronics product design that unites PCB design, MCAD, data management, and teamwork

License Environments

After choosing the term length you wish to license Altium Designer (Perpetual or Term-Based), you would choose the environment you wish to use the license. The environment basically determined if you wanted the license to be shared in a pool, if you wanted a private server to manage your own licenses, or if you wanted a standalone offline license. 

On-Demand License

Benefit: Get flexible access to Altium Designer that you can use anywhere

On-Demand licensing is the most popular choice for individuals and large companies as it allows you to use Altium Designer anywhere with internet and easily manage license distribution. This option provides a flexible, streamlined approach to licensing, enabling you to delegate and obtain a license in seconds without needing to implement your own dedicated server.

✓ Most popular and flexible licensing option
✓ Ideal for single license holders as well as large license pools
✓ Available anywhere with an internet connection
✓ Supports multiple users in multiple environment types
✓ No need to set-up a dedicated server
✓ On-Demand gives you the flexibility to use your license on any PC

Private Server License

Benefit:  Securely access Altium Designer while staying on a localized network

Share licenses with multiple engineers and designers throughout your organization by hosting them on your enterprise server and sharing them over your network or VPN. This option gives you the full convenience of managing your organization’s Altium Designer licensing through a self-hosted Altium Infrastructure Server that’s accessible over local or company-wide networks.

✓ Most Secure - Ideal for companies requiring isolation from the internet and managed access via local network or VPN
✓ Ideal for teams that need to stay offline and isolated from the internet
✓ Supports multiple users in multiple environment types
✓ Easy user profile management and user role assignments
✓ Private License Service – software license acquisition, allocation, and tracking
✓ Complete Network Installation Service–including acquisition, bundling, and network deployment of software installation packages
✓ Private Server gives you license management and network installation services

Standalone License

Benefit:  The perfect license for designing in a self-contained, offline environment

Standalone licenses are installed locally on your machine and can be used offline. This license is perfect for individuals who want to work from a dedicated PC at a single site. According to the EULA, You can also install this license on a secondary machine for temporary use. With this option, you only need to be online once to activate your license in Altium Designer, or if you want to leverage the extended features available with an Altium 365® subscription.

✓ For Individuals - This license is installed locally on your machine and can be used offline
✓ Ideal for a single workstation and solo designer
✓ Available as a single site license only
✓ Requires no active internet connection after initial license activation
✓ Licensing file can be saved, copied and backed-up as required
✓ Standalone lets you work in a self-contained, offline environment

Geographic Assignments

After choosing the type of license environment, you then had the option to choose from a set of geographic assignments that would apply to your license.  This determined the location(s) that the license and software could operate without violating the End-User License Agreement (EULA). There are three types available; Single Site, Continental, and Global.

Global License Geographic Assignment

Benefit:  Efficiently share licenses across the globe for 24-hour utilization

Global licenses can be used wherever you are in the world. With On-Demand and Private Server licensing, this geographical assignment allows your company to share a license or seats of a license throughout all of your locations.

When one of your teams is ending their workday, another team across the world can use those same licenses. Licenses must be released before being shared. The result is optimized license utilization and flexibility for your business.

✓ Allows the same license to be used anywhere across the globe
✓ Provides maximum geographic flexibility
✓ Ideal for teams located on multiple continents around the world
✓ If traveling, users can still access the license through a VPN for Private Server or online for On-Demand
✓ Ideal for designers that travel globally
✓ Supports 24-hour daily utilization
✓ Global gives you the flexibility to share licenses with teams worldwide
✓ Perfect for distributed companies that share license seats in locations around the world

Continental License Geographic Assignment

Benefit:  Shareable licensing for teams on the same continent

Continental Site allows you to share licenses amongst team members that are located on a specific continent. This gives your company a flexible option to effectively utilize your budget and save on PCB design software costs by purchasing only what’s needed, rather than restricting license rights to a single location. Seat counts do apply, so before sharing a license, the license must be released, and additional seats can be purchased as needed.

✓ Allows the same license to be used anywhere on a given continent
✓ Ideal for teams located at multiple sites on the same continent
✓ Supports higher license utilization and greater flexibility
✓ Continental allows you to share licenses with distributed teams

Single Site License Geographic Assignment

Benefit:  For designers and organizations at a single location

Single Site is the most common license type and can be used at a single geographic site where you do business, whether that’s at an office or home. You can use also this license in more than one location, such as when traveling, as long as you utilize it for temporary purposes. For purposes of Single Site License Rights, the phrase “geographic site” means a site no greater than one-half mile (800 meters) radius.

✓ The most common geographic site assignment that can be used in multiple locations under the same user
✓ Ideal for designers and organizations within one geographical location
✓ For more than one location, each location should have its own set of Single Site licenses or have licensing with a regional scope such as Continental or Global
✓ Single Site helps you save money by limiting use to a single location
✓ Perfect for companies where all employees work out of a single geographic location

Any of the legacy license options could also be applied to the Altium Designer SE product, which is slimmed down version of Altium Designer that offers a feature rich design environment for PCB layout and schematic editing.

Altium Designer SE

Benefit: Save money with a "light" version for schematic design.

Altium Designer SE is a limited license of Altium Designer tailored for systems engineers who only need to use the schematic capture capabilities for our most popular electronics design tool, Altium Designer. Powerful features for schematic entry, component management, simulation, seamless integration with Altium Designer layout, and a collection of importers provide a unique engineering environment. 

This is a fully-featured editor for schematics that has limitations for editing PCB layouts. You can still view 2D and 3D designs with this version, but won’t be able to make edits to the physical board layout.

✓ Ideal for designers whose role is to edit the logical aspect of a design
✓ Includes analog and digital simulation for design testing and verification
✓ View access for 2D and 3D layouts
✓ Provides access to a complete front-end schematic design capture and simulation solution for electronic designs
✓ Access to ActiveBOM for efficient management of costs and availability of components used in designs
✓ Perfect for systems engineers that only need limited features for schematic capture

Role of AltiumLive Accounts and Group Administrators

Altium license management is administered through the AltiumLive platform. This platform allows for account, user, and license management. Each company will have an AltiumLive account with at least one group administrator assigned upon initial purchase of the license. The group administrator is usually identified during the purchase process as the person responsible for license and account management.

Group administrators can add users, manage groups (On-Demand and Private Server licenses), and track license usage and needs. For a standard user to be able to view, access, and use a license, they should be added as a user of AltiumLive. A Private Server license does not require that a user is added to the account, but it is still recommended they be added for technical support purposes. The platform, a group administrator accesses to manage these items is the dashboard shown in Figure 5, only available to group administrators.

Figure 5: AltiumLive Dashboard – Available to Group Administrators for managing users and licenses.



Altium’s licensing system is robust and filled with options for every user and environment type. In today’s EDA world, electrical engineers and board designers could potentially work in a plethora of situations, and sometimes the user will encounter different scenarios within the scope of their job as engineers. You can rest assured that Altium Designer will be fully supported in any environment that you need. Using the guidelines and information provided in this document, be sure to select the license type and the number of seats that will make your company the most productive. If you have users that are waiting for a license to become available, this is lost productivity time, and we want to be sure you have every opportunity to get your products to market on time and efficiently. This begins with a correct and efficient licensing configuration for your company. 

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