I always use No CD cracks (at least used to when people made them). Not because I have pirated games, quite the contrary, all the games I've played for the past several years were quite legitimately mine, and I have the CDs safely in their cases and in storage. No, I use No CD cracks because if I want to play a game, I don't want to have to dig around to find the blasted CD, I want to be able to just click the shortcut and be away.
My tastes tend to run in streaks, for a few days game A will be of interest, with a little B, then A will be replaced by C, then C by D, then B by E, D will be replaced by F, and maybe E will go back to A. Thus over the course of a few weeks I can spend some time with a half dozen different games. And I would rather not have to hunt down a CD every darn time.
This is one thing I think is so great about GC2. It just sits happily on my machine, when I want to play, its two clicks away (one to get to the start-up menu, one to start the game). No unnecessary wear on my CD ROM, and no unnecessary wear on my CDs. Heck, I've got 240 GB of HD space, I can install every game I have completely on my hard drive and never need the CD again - if they'll let me.
Routine CD checking is one thing, annoying but not a big deal. StarForce on the other hand are a bunch of a-hats. Pure 100% [obscenity]. Not only do they make crap ware that is an open invitation to viruses and online cheats (among other various sins of bad software design) in the name of 'preventing software piracy', but they have the audacity to not only disrespect Stardock for having a different view on how to go about that goal, but in fact indirectly encourages piracy of Stardock's software.
What a bunch of scum. I too won't buy anything with their 'protection' on it, thanks very much.
As 'Frogboy' says above, piracy is a very real issue. But in all probability, its going to happen no matter what you do. You don't want to make it easy for the pirates so there are disk based copy protections, CD keys, regitration keys whatever. In truth, a lot of people who use pirated software or music simply wouldn't buy it if they had to actually pay for it (either they don't have the money, or simply don't care enough to pay for it).
But when your 'security' starts to have a negative impat on your legitimate users (such as StarForce or Sony's simlar little root kit on their music CDs), then you've gone to far in the name of security. To prevent the loss of sales that you probably never had in the first place.
I think Stardock has the better model. Instead of trying to discourage piracy, they reward honesty. Its a subtle difference, but it looks like a successful one.
And while Starforce gets lots of heat for their tactics from legitimate users, do you think Stardock is going to get many complaints from their legitmate users? "What? Stardock wants to give me more free updates and features!! All they do is improve their software! Damn them!"