Monday, June 06, 2005

Is it a bug or a feature?

The new PalmOne "LifeDrive" is out and there are already heavy discussions in several forums. One of the most controversial "features" is the complete deletion of the internal hard drive during a hard reset.

This has lead to big trouble in some discussions. Some users say that this feature is rather a bug. What if you have stored a lot of pictures of your last holiday onto the LifeDrive and during your way home it crashes and needs a hard reset? All of your wonderfull pictures will be lost! This may cause a lot of trouble to PalmOne. Especially because on their anouncements they expose the LiveDrive's ability to store a great amount of data like pictures and mp3s. And a user with no experience on Palm OS devices will be heavily surprised about the loss of data. And perhaps he might be a little bit unhappy or even angry...

On the other side there are users who do not complain about the LifeDrive's behaviour during a hard reset. They think it's okay if the hard drive is deleted. Their explanation is that a Palm OS device seldom crashes. And if, a soft reset should solve the problem in most cases. I think this is rather a weak argument. A better argument is maybe that all the data on the internal hard drive is saved during the hotsynch operation. But this won't be usefull while you are on the road.

So what do you think? Is the deletion of the LifeDrive's hard disk a bug or a feature? Should PalmOne openly tell its customers that their data is definitely not save? Feel free to tell me your opinion!

14 Comments:

Blogger Mitchell Rusk said...

It is not a bug. This device is offered to "High secuirity" areas. Now they store "secret" information and if someone got their hands on it they could get all of the information. Unless it is password protected. Then the only way to get the info would be to hard reset and change the password, but walla all of the info was deleted so now they can't get it. That is why palmone did this. It is not a bug.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Camilo Alvarez said...

like mitchell rusk said.... It is not a bug it is a feature .... this pda is made with the USA goberment standar secutity ... that means if your handled is stollen (wile is blocked and encripted) and has any credit card number or just important FBI info... you or the enemy can`t save any data from the disk after hard reset (even if the hard disk is remover an plug into a pc). actualy your info is very secure...

10:14 PM  
Blogger Ron said...

But they should have also added another feature of a "semi-hard" boot that would give you the option of not wiping your hard drive.

I've already gone through this pain once already with my LifeDrive. I got it into a state where only a hard boot would cure it. Then, of course, everything on the drive was gone.

On one hand, I was not happy with having to reload everything (after I got home, of course, since I don't keep a backup of the hard drive at work). But on the other, I think that we need the ability to completely wipe the unit sometimes.

11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Hard reset should not cause a hard drive to lose data.

Put it this way, imagine if the only way to setup Windows was in such a way that if you ever had to reinstall (or upgrade) the OS you had to wipe out all your data.

It's one thing to say PalmOS type data would be wiped out by a hard reset, it's another thing to consider one's usage of the device as a data storage entity (for storing pictures, mp3s and videos) for those data to be wiped out.

If Palm were smart they would have let users tag data (probably via folders) that they don't want deleted on a Hard Reset.

11:40 PM  
Blogger Mitchell Rusk said...

Look, palm can't make everbody happy. also remember you can also do a warm reset.

11:44 PM  
Blogger Steven Fisher said...

Of course a hard reset deletes data. That's what it's there for!

Why don't people think before they write?

4:55 AM  
Anonymous aquatix said...

Well, it would have been logical if only the internal-memory part of the harddrive had been whiped [you know, where the LifeDrive stores it's programs instead of using build-in memory, as would've been more sensible]. However, doing a hard reset shouldn't be deleting the storage part of the harddrive. It doesn't whipe your SD or Memorystick either, now does it?

10:21 AM  
Blogger Mitchell Rusk said...

like I said it is for seciurity resons. This is a hard drive not an SD card.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Bubu said...

So maybe it's a question of user's philosophy? If the user wants his data to be save in the way that nobody can steal it, it's a feature. But what about the user who wants to store data on the LD and definitely not lose it? E.g. because he uses his LD as a image tank?
So I think the user should be able to decide if he wants his data to be erased or not. So both sides would be satisfied. Just my 2 cents...

11:20 PM  
Anonymous aquatix said...

Well, if it's for security, it surely doesn't suffice. When you want to securely swipe an hdd, you have to swipe it many times, taking several hours, if not more. Doing that on a hard reset won't be pretty ;)

I think it may indeed be a matter of philosophy. My point of view is that the storage part of the internal harddrive is the same as an external flash card [SD, whatever], so it shouldn't be swiped. Maybe there should be an option however, that when you perform a hard reset [and not because your system is fscked up, so you'd definitely want to _keep_ your documents], you have the option to [securely?] whipe all contents of the hdd too.

Just my two cents :)

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you simply accept the meaning of "HardReset" : A hardreset deletes all data! It's not important what the user *thinks* a hardreset is, or what he would like it (not) to do, a hardreset deletes all data period.

3:33 PM  
Anonymous Jelmer said...

Of course it is a feature, and the exact reason is the security.

If one would rip out the Hard Disk after a hard reset, he can extract the data from the hard disk.

Therefore they did this, and also the encryption function make it harder to extract information from the hard disk when unmountend from the LifeDrive

3:39 PM  
Blogger Brad Green said...

As you may know, there are two partitions on the LD HDD. The first holds the 64MB of simulated RAM, and the rest holds data, like an external card. What I have been led to believe is that when you hard reset, it deletes the entire HDD. This is not what should happen. As some here have said, there should be a semi hard boot, which deletes the RAM. Not just the physical RAM on the device, but also the RAM on the card. This will clean out any problems with the OS, while leaving the personal data (MP3s, Movies, and Docs) intact. If you really have data that you need to keep safe, it can be encrypted on the card, which will protect it.

There is also another alternative. Palm should have included a security app which specified what type of reset to do.

Dmitry Grinberg has written a small app called supersecurity which allows you to set a system password which you need to enter after a reset. If the password is not correctly entered, you are given the choice to try again or to hard reset the device.

What Palm would have been smart to do is provide an app like this which let you do a normal hard reset, leaving your personal data on the drive, but allowed you to secure your device, by forcing a hard reset only if someone attempted to break into the device.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Mitchell Rusk said...

remember, you can do a warm reset to correct the problem

5:26 AM  

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