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SUM Competition

Symantec's SUM disk utilities for the Mac has become pre-eminent, and Symantec recently solidified its hold on the Mac utility market by purchasing Peter Norton Computing. Other major disk utility packages include 1st Aid Software's Deluxe 1st Aid Kit and Central Point Software's MacTools Deluxe. Central Point recently advertised MacTools Deluxe for $25 if you could produce a photocopy the first page of the manual of another Macintosh disk utility. For $25, how can you go wrong?

Well, it seems that you really can go wrong. A number of people (including us) took Central Point up on its offer, and after several delays (during which Central Point did not deposit any checks) we received the program. We haven't had a chance to test this for ourselves, but several people on Usenet report that there is a potentially dangerous bug in MacTools Deluxe's backup program. It seems that MacTools Deluxe allows you to save sets of folders to backup, but if MacTools finds a folder and files with the same name as the ones you want to backup before it finds the ones you want, it will backup the ones it found rather than the ones you selected. This isn't an entirely unusual possibility, because you could easily have a number of files and folders with the same names in different main folders.

Of course, it's only a problem if your hard disk dies or if you accidentally erase the files, but that's what backups are for. For true archiving of files, though, Retrospect is ideal, since it actually keeps different versions of the same file through revisions, allowing you to recover the file at any revision level. On the whole, we are also happy with the SUM Backup program, which isn't at all fancy, but does the job.

Evidently this bug survived beta-testing, but Central Point has reproduced it and will be discussing it with the third-party developer of MacTools Deluxe. However Central Point did not promise that it would be definitely fixed or that owners of MacTools Deluxe would be informed. One useful thing is that Central Point does have a limited warranty that says that they will replace the software or refund your money if it does not perform substantially as advertised. In our opinion, this bug violates their warranty and they should provide a free upgrade to all registered users. We suggest that everyone who owns MacTools Deluxe call Central Point and ask them about the bug and the necessary upgrade.

Other comments about MacTools Deluxe hint that its optimization feature is not as good as SUM TuneUp and the backup program is slower than Apple's HD Backup (which is not included in at least System 6.0.5 and will not be a part of System 7.0).

Symantec -- 800/441-7234 -- 800/626-8847 (CA) -- 408/253-2167
Central Point Software -- 503/690-8080

Information from:
Jonathan Pool -- pool@milton.u.washington.edu
George D. Nincehelser -- george@swbatl.sbc.com


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