I sell some PHP scripts and offer a 30 day trial to my customers. At the moment I use codelock to protect my scripts which works pretty well for my needs but is said to be unsecure.
Ioncube encoder would be a more secure alternative. I like the program and their support. All tests passed without any failure. However one thing let me hesitate to switch to ioncube encoder. ioncube encrypted php scripts need a loader support on the target domain.
My fear is that too many of my customers do not have this loader support. So their installation will fail. What I would like to know is how popular this ioncube loader support is with webhosters? Does only a minority of webhosters support this loader thing or is it the vast majority? What do you think?
What Iggy said, I've had IonCube since March, I like it a lot. It's very useful for encoding those files with passwords. I really like the ability to distribute the loader and it work with a lot of server.
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The market is a mixture. There are hosts supporting the Loaders directly, and you'll see advertisers here that do such as MyVPSHost, a large number that support the runtime user side install, and a few hosts who for no good reason will not support encoded files from any vendor that requires an extension, so that's no ionCube, no Zend etc. The runtime install feature from our point of view might be considered a mixed blessing as it's reduced the take up the Loader with hosts quite simply because they don't need to install it thanks to the runtime install mechanism, but for the end user that's fine and this is what really matters.
To keep on the pulse and market sentiment, we do encourage end users of scripts to get in touch with us if they have problems installing because firstly we can generally help them out, but it also gives us useful feedback on the popularity of different types of server configurations and so on. We find that problems are often on servers with no support of encoded files from any vendor, and we're generally able to assist. If not and a host needs to install the Loader, then unless they are closed to any enhancements to PHP, most hosts seem happy to assist their customer. Having been in the market since 2002, and pioneering code protection for the masses back then with the first ever affordable encoding solution for PHP, hosts know that not only is the technology well proven and reliable, but that they should get great support from us if there are any problems as we take support exceptionally seriously.
There is one other concern that you didn't raise but that you would be right to when switching from an eval() based source hiding solution to compiled code, and that is PHP version support. This is particularly relevant now that PHP 5.2 has come out. Whilst prudence would say that updating to any new major version of PHP might be better done after at least a few weeks, we've learnt that even some hosts will be right up there and updating within a few days, and that we have to be too. If customers require extensions to run their scripts, then unless those are released too, the possibility of users scripts failing is a reality.
And far from being unlikely, providers of encoded files from some other solutions have discovered precisely this with a big shock finding that there's no Zend Optimizer yet for PHP 5.2, and no sign of one promised for a while. Up to date PHP support is absolutely essential, and I'm happy to say that we released Loaders within 48 hours after the 5.2 release for the major platforms and did our best to look after users in that regard. Whilst we generally don't release support before a PHP release is officially made, having seen people asking for support even before the release of 5.2 was out, if at all possible we will be aiming for an even tigther release timescale next time.
With our products we rarely have any issues with providers not having the ionCube Loaders or Zend Optimizer installed. We offer both as these are the top two encoder products available (although we much prefer and recommend the ionCube build of our products for a number of reasons including better security and better performance) and have both loaders installed on our hosting services.
There are some hosts that refuse to install loaders but they are in the minority and are losing out. A lot of major PHP applications are encoded and by not installing the loaders you are preventing a lot of popular scripts from being used by your customers. And since there are so many hosts available, it is easy to switch.
If you are looking to secure your code then there are 3 options - ionCube and Zend being the most popular and most likely to be available on servers, and SourceGuardian. All the others do not actually compile code or don't offer the same level of functionality.