Frequently Asked Questions
Common questions and answers can be found in our FAQ sections below. For questions regarding the Loader, please see our separate Loaders FAQ.
How do I purchase your products
How can I pay for products
Can you provide an invoice/receipt
How do you provide the product
Can I get a refund
How soon can I download the software after payment
What happens if a new major version is released soon after I purchase
How much does the standalone encoder cost
How do I run encoded scripts
What platforms can encoded scripts be run on
My scripts must run on Unix and I develop on Windows. Which Encoder should I purchase
I develop on a desktop and laptop; do I need to purchase twice
I develop on Windows and want to create license files on Linux. Do I need two licenses
What is the CI (Continuous Integration) Edition
Will my files work on newer versions of PHP
How is back compatibility possible, aren't your files compiled code
Do encoded files or the loader affect performance
Can I distribute the Loaders with my scripts
How are your products licensed
Do I need licenses to distribute or run encoded scripts
Can I move my license from one machine to another
Can I get a new license if my computer has failed
What support do you provide
Q. How do I purchase your products
Purchasing is possible from the members area. If you have already registered, just login via the Members menu item and visit the 'Purchase Products' page. If not registered yet, please register
and then click the Members link to login.
Q. How can I pay for products
Payments can be made with PayPal, credit card and bank (wire) transfer.
Q. Can you provide an invoice/receipt
Yes. You will receive payment receipts from our payment processors, and you can display a printable invoice with full order details simply by clicking the order number on the My Account
page in the members' area.
Q. How do you provide the product
Once an order has been approved, our software products are made available as a download link in the members' area. The download link is always available and does not expire.
Q. Can I get a refund
In the unlikely event that you might require a refund, a refund can be given up to 48 hours after purchase provided that the software has not been licensed. After that time a 15% fee will apply to cover administration and processing costs. Refunds are not possible once our software has been licensed and a license file has been issued.
Q. How soon can I download the software after payment
Download links are available once an order has been approved and screened for fraud. We take payment fraud extremely seriously and receive fraudulent payments frequently, so manual screening is required. For orders placed during UK business hours (8am to 5pm Monday to Friday excluding public holidays) the approval process is usually complete within 8 hours. The time is often less, or could be longer if we need to contact the card holder by telephone or email. Orders placed outside of business hours may still be processed same day, but if not they are given priority processing next business day.
Q. What happens if a new major version is released soon after I purchase
If a new major version is released within 45 days of your license purchase/upgrade then you will be able to claim a free upgrade to the latest version for 3 months after its release. This option is available from the My Account downloads page.
Q. How much does the standalone encoder cost
There are three versions of the Encoder. The base version is available for $199 and offers the core encoding features essential to protecting PHP source code. The Pro Version ($388) and Cerberus ($518) add features for creating license files to restrict scripts to run on specific machines, and also to stop files from running beyond a certain point in time if this is required. The Pro version can restrict files to any combination of IP addresses and server names, and Cerberus can also lock files to specified MAC addresses. The Windows Pro and Cerberus Encoder also includes a license generator for Linux (and optionally FreeBSD or OS X) so that with a single product license, you can encode scripts on Windows and create license file for your scripts either from Windows or Unix. This is great if wanting to automate license file generation from a web server.
Q. How do I run encoded scripts
A PHP extension called the ionCube Loader processes protected scripts. This is completely free and already installed on many hosting platforms, and can usually be installed by the end user when required. Loaders are available on the Loaders page
Q. What platforms can encoded scripts be run on
Encoded files are supported on a wide variety of platforms. Please see the Loaders page
for full details.
Q. My scripts must run on Unix and I develop on Windows. Which Encoder should I purchase
Generally it is best to select the platform where you develop, which in this case would be Windows. Encoded files are cross platform and run on any system that we support with Loaders.
Q. I develop on a desktop and laptop; do I need to purchase twice
To use our software on two machines does require two licenses. Additional licenses are available at a discount as required.
Q. I develop on Windows and want to create license files on Linux. Do I need two licenses
No. We bundle a Linux version of the license generator program with the Windows Encoder, so in this case you would need only one license.
Q. What is the CI (Continuous Integration) Edition
The CI Edition is aimed for users who encode as part of a CI pipeline, where flexibility of temporary machine
licenses is beneficial. This product comes with 2 license slots, more can be purchased as required, and license activation
and deactivation can be used to control a license at the start and end of session. License allocations are also released every
24 hours and can be activated for a new instance if a previous session failed before license deactivation.
Q. Will my files work on newer versions of PHP
In general, yes! A notable feature of the ionCube solution when compared to similar
alternatives is back / forwards compatibility of files with future versions of PHP.
When developing a Loader for
a new version of PHP, our first release milestone is the ability to run existing encoded files, followed later
by support for a new Encoder and native files at that PHP version . This avoids you having to produce files
for each major version of PHP, and it benefits end users to have files that will not stop working
if their PHP is upgraded.
Compatibility is usually possible across major PHP
versions within the same generation of the PHP language (e.g. 5.1 files on 5.2, 5.3 etc., and 7.1 files on 7.2, 7.3).
Compatibility across different generations may not be possible because changes in how PHP actually works for a
new generation can be fundamental and far reaching. That said, it was possible for us to support PHP 4 files
running on PHP 5, but not possible between PHP 5 and 7.
A new feature in version 10 is the ability to Bundle
code for multiple PHP versions into one target. While this is not generally needed due to the inherent back
compatibility, this does allow producing a single file with version 10 that can run on both PHP 5 and PHP 7 by
containing an encoding for both PHP generations. This maintains the advantage for end users of a single file
that can run on either PHP generation and have back compatibility within each of those generations.
Q. How is back compatibility possible, aren't your files compiled code
Yes they are, and it can be challenging to achieve as across major versions
and sometimes even minor versions there can be breaking changes to PHP internally. We achieve this by having the Loader
patch the compiled code of a older file on the fly where necessary, adding, modifying or taking out VM instructions,
adjusting jump targets and so on. Of course the Loader may be presented with files from a range of earlier PHP
versions, so it has to allow for that as well. It is time consuming to develop and no wonder that this is
not achieved by other solutions, but we believe it is important to do if at all possible.
Q. Do encoded files or the loader affect performance
Performance depends on various factors such as the nature of the PHP code, but Encoded files generally perform about the same as the original scripts.
Q. Can I distribute the Loaders with my scripts
Yes, however we recommend directing users to the Loader Wizard for guidance on selecting and installing the exact required Loader for their system. This avoids distributing unnecessary files that may also be out of date.
Q. How are your products licensed
Our software is licensed to the physical or virtual machine where it is used.
Q. Do I need licenses to distribute or run encoded scripts
No. Our Loader comes with a simple license agreement, and encoded files are yours to distribute however you wish.
Q. Can I move my license from one machine to another
Licenses can be easily moved in cases such as upgrading or replacing a machine, where use remains on a single machine. As licenses are issued for use on a single machine, moving a license back and forth between machines such as a desktop and laptop or home and office is usually not permitted, but extra licenses can be purchased at a discount to cover that requirement. If in doubt please ask and we'll be happy to advise.
Q. Can I get a new license if my computer has failed
If you have a current support plan then this is part of the support service (excluding Starter Support). If your support has expired we will also do our best to assist.
Q. What support do you provide
3 months starter support is included as standard with all products, and enhanced levels of support are available for purchase at any time. Compare support plans