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What is a dongle

What is a dongle


A dongle is a small piece of hardware that attaches to computer, TV, or other electronic device and enables additional functions such as copy protection, audio, video, games, data, or other services that are only available when it is attached. The term "dongle" was originally used to refer only to software-protection dongles.

When used as a software protection device, dongles mostly appear as two-interface security tokens with transient data flow that does not interfere with other dongle functions and a pull communication that reads security data from the dongle. Without the dongle, the software may run only in a restricted mode, or not at all.

When used as a device attached to a computer or TV or gaming console, dongles can enable functions that would not be present with out. For example, a dongle attached to a TV may receive an encoded video stream, decode it in the dongle, and then present this audio and video information to the TV.