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Questions & Answers

Who is ExcelSentry for?
Are there limitations to what can be done with an encoded spreadsheet?
How do I activate my ExcelSentry software licenses?
What about the technical details?
What are the system requirements to use ExcelSentry?
What are the license conditions?

Who is ExcelSentry for?

ExcelSentry may be used by:

  • small - medium sized businesses
  • large corporates
  • companies of all disciplines and types
  • businesses with representatives away from the office
  • companies providing demonstration software to the public
  • individuals or organizations developing spreadsheet software for sale

  ... who use Microsoft Excel® for applications with valuable intellectual content,

and who want to

  • protect their proprietary spreadsheet algorithms
  • secure their intellectual property
  • secure use within an authorized environment
  • prevent "transfer" of core methodologies to competitors
  • maintain a market edge due to trade secrets embodied in spreadsheet formulas
  • use Microsoft Excel® oriented Information Rights Management (IRM) capability without relying on the Microsoft Windows Rights Management Service in Microsoft Office 2003 Server, or other similar 'corporate' IRM products

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Are there limitations to what can be done with an encoded spreadsheet?

ExcelSentry is intended for "mature" spreadsheets, which have been tested and debugged.  While the data in a spreadsheet encoded by ExcelSentry can be updated, other modifications to the encoded spreadsheet are intentionally limited, in order to maintain integrity of the calculations and security of the intellectual property.  Modifications, corrections and improvements, however, may be made to the original (unencoded) spreadsheet, which may then be re-encoded for general use.

Performance or other limitations may be experienced when ExcelSentry is used for:

  • very large spreadsheets
  • highly complex spreadsheets
  • spreadsheets with calculation routines requiring significant iteration

However, even spreadsheets with the above characteristics may be successfully encoded using the advanced ExcelSentry options, either individually or in combination, by:

  • encoding just some of the worksheets
  • encrypting just a percentage of the formulas

Note that formulas with external references are not encrypted by ExcelSentry.  This allows Microsoft Excel® to update links to remote data sources as usual.  Also, cells with long formulas (more than approximately 250 characters), and some forms of array and label formulas, are not encrypted.

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How do I activate my ExcelSentry software licenses?

ExcelSentry Encoder licenses must be activated on first use by entering an Activation Key for that PC.  Using the License Manager program supplied with ExcelSentry, email the identifier displayed for your PC to us, and we will email you back the required Activation Key.

Activations are specific to each licensee and to each PC, which prevents, for example, Company A from using Company B's encoded spreadsheets.  It also prevents an otherwise authorized user from copying an encoded spreadsheet and using it at an unauthorized location.

License Server and Client licenses may be validated on first use in a similar manner to that used for Encoder licenses, although if you have an installed ExcelSentry License Server, Client licenses on the same local area network may be automatically activated each time the Client Add-In is run.

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What about the technical details?

ExcelSentry has been designed with a simple and intuitive interface.  However, this simple interface hides a sophisticated and powerful encoding engine underneath.

ExcelSentry incorporates the following:

  • the powerful and widely accepted Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)/Rijndael encryption algorithm
  • strong 128 bit encryption
  • unique company-specific encryption cipher key for each spreadsheet
  • multiple encryption layers

ExcelSentry encodes formulas at cell level.  This means:

  • each formula is individually encrypted, i.e. each formula is individually and independently converted into an apparently random character array format which is meaningless to users, and cannot feasibly be decrypted to uncover the original formula
  • encryption (or otherwise) of any cell or range of cells does not affect any other cell or range.  In other words, if some cells are left unencrypted, these do not compromise the integrity of those cells which are encrypted 
  • if just a portion of cell formulas provide the core calculation capability (and hence intellectual property content), only this portion needs to be encrypted

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What are the system requirements to use ExcelSentry?

The following are the system requirements for the use of ExcelSentry:

  • Operating system: Microsoft Windows® 2000 and later
  • Microsoft Excel® 97, 2000, XP, or 2003
  • Processor speed, RAM, and hard disk capacity - as for normal Microsoft Office
  • For using an encoded spreadsheet with the ExcelSentry Client, RAM demand is only slightly higher than that required for the original (unencoded) spreadsheet
  • For encoding large spreadsheets with the ExcelSentry Encoder, temporary RAM demand can be noticeably higher than the file size of the spreadsheet
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What are the license conditions?

Click here to read the End-User License Agreement.


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