Review: PodLock 1.1.3

An iPod utility for secure data storage, backup, and more (November 16th, 2005)

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Product Manufacturer: Micromat Inc.

Price: MSRP $39.97 US

The Good

  • Easy to use. Portable, hidden storage. Printed manual included

The Bad

  • Quitting PodLock ejects Data volume. Cannot run PodLock with iTunes open.

Micromat is a disk utility company that has specialized on the Macintosh platform for sixteen years, so it is no surprise that they created a disk management product specifically made for the iPod. PodLock is an iPod utility that includes optimizing, backup and restore, and partition creation. It sports a clean and familiar interface especially for 3rd generation iPod users, after which the controls are modeled. PodLock is simple to use and there is little doubt as to its buttons functions because if you hover your mouse over a button, a dialogue box lets you know what actions the button performs. All one needs is Mac OS X 10.3 and a FireWire or USB 2.0 port. A clearly written manual is also included.

Features

Without a doubt PodLock's strength is its ability to create a password-protected partition for data storage on your iPod. You don't need to reformat your iPod and it prevents an average person from accessing your files without your password. While there are other ways that one can store data securely on an iPod, Micromat's option is one of the easiest to use. It is not as secure as using an encrypted disk image, but does stop casual users from prying. PodLock's main menu controls mounting the volume and ejecting the iPod which simplifies using it for data storage. Deleting the hidden volume is as simple as pushing a button. PodLock can also make a backup of your iPod's files. It lacks the ability to choose which folders to back up, so it takes longer than I would have liked.

A version of PodLock is stored on your iPod so that you can mount your data volume on any Mac that meets the minimum system requirements. Other features include the ability to defragment files on your iPod to maximize battery life, play music tracks and audio recording files, and view images. You can also discover where and when your iPod was created.

One disadvantage of PodLock is that it cannot be opened when iTunes is running, which makes the ability to listen to music in PodLock a necessary inclusion. The downside is that generating a list of music to play in PodLock is time consuming because the list is created in a special database. Using a 4th Generation 60 GB iPod with 22 GB of music took a half-hour to generate the list. The database is automatically updated when songs are changed, so this is a one-time event.

The navigation system and functionality of playing music is bare bones. The track titles show up in one alphabetized list and once a song plays it stops. The music also stops if you press a button outside of the music tab, for example changing the password of your data volume, which makes it more frustrating than useful to listen to music. As a data volume protector, PodLock is a good tool. PodLock has not been updated to work with the Video iPod yet, but version 1.1.3 does work with the iPod Nano and all the iPod photo models.

by James Trousdale


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