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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Maxtor One Touch Software Intentionally Disabled -- Crippleware

I needed a good external hard drive for backups -- preferably one with decent backup software with it. As I stood in Fry’s Electronics in Oxnard, California evaluating several of the external drive and backup capabilities on display – I noticed the Maxtor One Touch backup system. When compared with the other items on the shelf, it seemed to have similar capabilities, a good price point, and finally an excellent capacity (750GB) for only $129.95.

After picking up a few different boxes and brand – it seemed that Maxtor really offered the best overall value in their package, especially with their One Touch4 software which helps make backups easy. I made the decision and walked out of the store with a new 750GB external drive of which the sole purpose was for it was to constantly backup my laptop.

Excited about the purchase, when I arrived home I ripped open the package and immediately started installing the drive to my computer. It was a fairly simple process, first plug in the power to the drive, second plug in the USB cable, and lastly install the included “premium” Maxtor One Touch software.

Easy enough, right?

The software installed easily enough and I was immediately able to the access the drive both through the Windows Explorer and the Maxtor taskbar icon that had been installed. I fired up the Maxtor Manager software and began to configure my backups.

Maxtor One Touch4 Software does not allow you to back up Documents and Settings

The drive shows up just as I expected and can be accessed by the software. By clicking on the 'Backup' button on the upper bar, on the right -- I could configure the backups for my machine.

Creating a backup on the Maxtor One Touch4 with the Maxtor Manager

Wanting to have a little more control over my backups, I go ahead and select the custom backup option -- since I store my files in differnet locations than the standard Windows XP locations.

Documents and Settings not available in Maxtor Manager for One Touch backups

At first I thought my eyes were going bad on me. But, from the picture above, you can tell it. There is no selection criteria for the default C:\Documents and Settings folder in Windows XP. Then I noticed there were no options from the C:\Windows folder, among a couple of other hidden or default folders.

I wondered what in the world was going on here -- maybe I missed a simple configuration to enable these areas. I did a couple of quick Internet searches and turned up this thread on the Seagate/Maxtor support forums. I spent a couple of minutes digesting the 7 pages of posts and the back and forth with Maxtor support.

Seagate / Maxtor has the One Touch4 Software in the Maxtor Manager programmed to specifically avoid many of the "system" folders. The only problem with that is many programs store valuable information in the C:\Documens and Settings\User\Local Settings and other folders. Say, your Microsoft Outlook Personal Folder Files (PST) or your Internet Explorer bookmarks. With Maxtor's software specifically programmed to block those areas, they are not providing a viable solution.

Even worse, apparently this is a new development with the software and it used to support these folders. A product manager actually made the decision to cripple the backup capabilities of the software. Amazing. I have a great disdain for software companies that purposely cripple software, reducing the functionality to consumers -- for no reason.

Frustrated and tempted to return the device -- I just decided to modify the One Touch4 button and created my own ROBOCOPY script. That worked pretty well and was a workable solution. However, most consumers do not have the technical know how to create this type of backup script -- and are left with a partially working backup program that does not protect their data.

Shame on Seagate / Maxtor.