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Clickfree Backup: Update Installs Adware w/o Permission.


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#1 Measure for Measure

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 10:38 PM

I have a Clickfree C2, a 1TB external hard drive with built-in backup software purchased in early 2013. It is sold at an inflated price relative to Seagate et al because of its alleged ease of use.

Their latest update installs a one minute audible advertisement for one of their products: it runs each time a backup is made. A somewhat incomplete description is posted at their tech support website:
https://clickfree.zendesk.com/entries/22249375-Introducing-Kooboodle

I would like to know whether it is possible to remove this adware without disabling the Clickfree backup software itself. Recall that I paid for this allegedly premium product.

Tech support says there's no option for turning it off, nor can the user roll back to the previous version of the software. I attempted a Windows Restore without success. I am guessing that software exists on the backup drive itself, software that I didn't think to backup myself. I've scanned the data directory on the C: drive for media files without success. I have not yet run a battery of anti-spyware programs. My review of their EULA locates no language giving them permission to install malware on my computer.

I am running Windows 7 Ultimate (x64) Service Pack 1 (build 7601).
Install Language: English (United States)
System Locale: English (United States)

Clickfree C2 , 1TB
CLICKFREE HD1027B3

Dell Inc. Inspiron 546
Enclosure Type: Desktop

Board: Dell Inc. 0F896N A02
Bus Clock: 200 megahertz
BIOS: Dell Inc. A10 11/12/2009

2.30 gigahertz AMD Phenom 9650 Quad-Core
512 kilobyte primary memory cache
2048 kilobyte secondary memory cache
2048 kilobyte tertiary memory cache
64-bit ready
Multi-core (4 total)
Not hyper-threaded

 

avast! Antivirus Version 8.0.1489.300

 

I have posted a broader perspective on this problem to a general interest board.
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=701775
For now, I am asking whether a direct fix is possible. I do not know whether this thread is in the proper forum. I am an intermediate user: I am not a power user.

Thanks for your attention.


Edited by Measure for Measure, 12 September 2013 - 10:42 PM.


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#2 smax013

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 05:23 PM

If their tech support says it cannot be disabled, then you are likely out of luck. There might be "hacks", but there would be a chance that they would break the easy backup that you like.

It does look like the first link you provided gave a way to get past the ad or mute it, unless I am not understanding things.


Edited by hamluis, 26 September 2013 - 04:04 PM.
Moved from external Hardware to All Other Apps - Hamluis.


#3 Measure for Measure

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 12:38 AM

If their tech support says it cannot be disabled, then you are likely out of luck. There might be "hacks", but there would be a chance that they would break the easy backup that you like.

It does look like the first link you provided gave a way to get past the ad or mute it, unless I am not understanding things.

I suspected that there was little I could safely do, but I thought it would be wise to pass the problem to those more experienced than myself.

 

The link says that you can manually stop the ad each time it runs: it does nothing to stop the ads from running in the first place. Also, stopping the ad takes more steps than they say. FTR (why not?) this is what happens:

 

Loud ad starts. To stop the noise do the following.

 

1. Go to the right hand side of the taskbar, click arrow for icon menu, and left-click the Clickfree icon.

2. Video opens up.

3. Click Start button.

4. Wait for Windows User Account Control to pop up.

5. Click the User Account Control.

6. Enjoy the relative peace and quiet until tomorrow.

 

The point is having to do that daily - or listen to an inane ad - is something I wouldn't want to pay extra for. I'd rather stick with an ordinary external hard drive and a backup program like Syncback. Or maybe disk cloning.

 

Also FTR:

If you do an extra manual backup by hand, clickfree will automatically schedule the next backup for 24 hours hence. So if you manually backup your hard drive at a time when you are normally sleeping or doing something that you don't want interrupted by loud advertising, be sure to reset the scheduler.

 

 

 

Thanks very much for reviewing my problem with the Clickfree C2: I'd hate to think that I had missed something blindingly obvious. 



#4 buddy215

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 06:23 AM

I just took a look at Amazon reviews for that product. The latest review pans the product for the same reason you give.

It is over-priced...in my opinion. I think I would consider copying what is on the drive to another location and reformatting

that drive. That would probably get rid of their backup software, your data and the annoying YouTube crapola. Or just get

another external drive such as this one for about 1/3 the price: Amazon.com: WD My Passport 500GB Portable External Hard Drive Storage USB 3.0 Black (WDBKXH5000ABK-NESN): Computers & Accessories

 

COPIED FROM AMAZON REVIEWS: I used to love this product. Recently, the company has installed adware and youtube videos automatically in their software updates that require you to view a youtube video advertising kooboodle each and every time the product runs. The company insists it is not adware and that there is no way to remove it. It drains data from your internet each time it plays because it plays it from youtube(and it's annoying). They refuse to acknowledge its a problem. Class action lawsuit may be filed. Do not buy until they remove this intrusion because it makes it so that you have to disconnect the product and not get automatic backups or you will hear the video each time (while sleeping too).


“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss

A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”


#5 Measure for Measure

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 04:42 PM

Thanks buddy215!

 

 

I occurs to me that it might be possible to set Windows Firewall so that it blocks traffic between Clickfree and YouTube. Or maybe a firewall by another company might do that. Whether that would stop Clickfee from functioning would have to be tested. Thoughts?

 

 

Also, while the software permits the user to backup their computer every 2, 6, 12 or 24 hours, you can't schedule it to operate at specific times of day. So those who like sleeping (or working without interuption) are barred from the 2 to 6 hour option. Quite a downgrade! I guess I no longer have what I originally paid for.

 

 

For a while, Clickfree had an intelligent business model. Charge a premium price for an integrated software/hardware system that was as idiotproof as plausible. In exchange, the user has one less hassle to deal with. Now I have something worse than my older (cheaper) Seagate/Syncback combo.



#6 buddy215

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 05:16 PM

I suspect if you were successful in blocking the access to YouTube it would still cause a delay while trying

to link up. I thought of that, too.

 

Of course, as far as interrupting your sleeping, just turn the sound off. I leave my speakers off most of the time

and only turn on when necessary.

 

If you continue to use the backup then I would look for a way to deny the updating.


“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded and the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics...you are all stardust.”Lawrence M. Krauss

A 1792 U.S. penny, designed in part by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, reads “Liberty Parent of Science & Industry.”


#7 smax013

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 09:15 AM

If their tech support says it cannot be disabled, then you are likely out of luck. There might be "hacks", but there would be a chance that they would break the easy backup that you like.

It does look like the first link you provided gave a way to get past the ad or mute it, unless I am not understanding things.

I suspected that there was little I could safely do, but I thought it would be wise to pass the problem to those more experienced than myself.
 
The link says that you can manually stop the ad each time it runs: it does nothing to stop the ads from running in the first place. Also, stopping the ad takes more steps than they say. FTR (why not?) this is what happens:
 
Loud ad starts. To stop the noise do the following.
 
1. Go to the right hand side of the taskbar, click arrow for icon menu, and left-click the Clickfree icon.
2. Video opens up.
3. Click Start button.
4. Wait for Windows User Account Control to pop up.
5. Click the User Account Control.
6. Enjoy the relative peace and quiet until tomorrow.
 
The point is having to do that daily - or listen to an inane ad - is something I wouldn't want to pay extra for. I'd rather stick with an ordinary external hard drive and a backup program like Syncback. Or maybe disk cloning.
 
Also FTR:
If you do an extra manual backup by hand, clickfree will automatically schedule the next backup for 24 hours hence. So if you manually backup your hard drive at a time when you are normally sleeping or doing something that you don't want interrupted by loud advertising, be sure to reset the scheduler.
 
 
 
Thanks very much for reviewing my problem with the Clickfree C2: I'd hate to think that I had missed something blindingly obvious.


The link you original provided seemed to also suggest that if you mute the video once, it will stay muted for future occurrences. Have you tried that?

At the end of the day, your only options likely are to either live with it or go to another backup system (i.e. use some other backup software and/or drive).

If you decide to live with it, then I suggest you complain to the company. You might even try to find out the CEO or president of the company and send a letter to him or her. If you do, I suggest that you don't make it a "belligerent" letter even if you feel like being "belligerent" about it. It should be a "professional business correspondence". You can certainly express your dissatisfaction and even how it would cause you to never purchase one of their products again (if that is the case), but it should still be polite and respectful. As the old saying goes, "you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar".

#8 Measure for Measure

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Posted 20 September 2013 - 11:06 PM


The link you original provided seemed to also suggest that if you mute the video once, it will stay muted for future occurrences. Have you tried that?

No I had not. Thanks so much for providing another set of eyes. In my defense their picture had the start button bolded (which stops the problem once and only once). And tech support never mentioned the possibility of hitting the mute button when I emailed them. Embarrasing.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to implement that workaround. When I hit the mute button the audio plays during the next backup anyway. This happens when a backup is initiated by the user followed by a rescheduling. It also happens when I jump in during the normally scheduled backup. There are a few more variations to try though and I can't rule out the possibility that there are peculiarities in my system causing trouble. Or not. At any rate I'm going to keep tweaking, then consider other options. This will take time because like most people I schedule backups during times that I am less likely to be near my computer.

A few words of caution to the wise. Clickfree is promoting an online photo sharing system that I have no intention of trying. I think it was introduced this year. At the very least it would be prudent to wait for a formal and noncommercial review of their system. I *hope* it doesn't just scan your system and automatically upload all jpgs: that could prove embarrasing for certain users. It's not just pr0n: do you really want to explain something downloaded on a whim like this for example to your friends?

http://wm40.inbox.com/thumbs/53_130b6b_25d6925_oJ.jpg.thumb


"Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot!", they might say. There's a deeper issue. Security researchers have discovered an exploit that bad guys could take advantage of in the case of dropbox. When putting your data up in the cloud, you really want the company to hire top-notch security professionals and not just wing it. I do not know whether Clickfree has conducted such due dilligence. But in my opinion installing adware/malware on your computer without opt-out or warning is not indicative of a company that is overly meticulous.



#9 smax013

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Posted 21 September 2013 - 02:18 AM

I certainly understand. I have my backup programs set to run in the middle of the night. I would be pissed one of those backup programs started blasting sound.

If the mute does not work, then you might be outta luck. At that point, your only options are to live with it or switch to something else for backing up as only they can likely remove that annoying ad.

On the live with front, you might see if you can find a Windows program that allows you to select volume levels for different applications. If you can find something like that, then you can turn down the volume for that Clickfree app. I have a program like that for my Mac called SoundBunny. I have no idea if there is a similar program out there for Windows, but I have to assume that there is.

#10 Measure for Measure

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Posted 24 September 2013 - 11:13 PM

On the live with front, you might see if you can find a Windows program that allows you to select volume levels for different applications. If you can find something like that, then you can turn down the volume for that Clickfree app. I have a program like that for my Mac called SoundBunny. I have no idea if there is a similar program out there for Windows, but I have to assume that there is.

Very helpful: thanks. It turns out Microsoft has a feature like this in Win 7 at least. It works via the Speaker icon. If the speaker icon isn't displayed, open the list of icons and click "Customize". Scroll to the menu for the speaker icon and choose accordingly.

https://ssl-proxy-updated.herokuapp.com/b3c386e27cc80964bf3a32677c9bfc5ce4682869/687474703a2f2f693133392e70686f746f6275636b65742e636f6d2f616c62756d732f713238382f666f72676f6f646d6561737572654d344d2f437573746f6d697a6533622e706e67/

 

Customize3b.png

 

 

Now wait for the blasted Clickfree advertisement to play. When it does, click the speaker icon and click "Mixer". The programs running that have sound will open up. Click the speaker under the Clickfree app to mute it. Then you should be done.

 

I don't know how robust or reliable this workaround is. I've only successfully tested it for a couple of days. Still, it should hold me until I get around to building a backup strategy with another product.

 

MS: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Adjust-the-sound-level-on-your-computer



#11 d1halu

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 02:57 PM

 


The link you original provided seemed to also suggest that if you mute the video once, it will stay muted for future occurrences. Have you tried that?

No I had not. Thanks so much for providing another set of eyes. In my defense their picture had the start button bolded (which stops the problem once and only once). And tech support never mentioned the possibility of hitting the mute button when I emailed them. Embarrasing.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to implement that workaround. When I hit the mute button the audio plays during the next backup anyway. This happens when a backup is initiated by the user followed by a rescheduling. It also happens when I jump in during the normally scheduled backup. There are a few more variations to try though and I can't rule out the possibility that there are peculiarities in my system causing trouble. Or not. At any rate I'm going to keep tweaking, then consider other options. This will take time because like most people I schedule backups during times that I am less likely to be near my computer.
 

 

I have the same problem, and the Clickfree support told me the mute will stayed muted only with the latest software. If you are still on the previous version, the mute will only work once. Try updating software and see if the mute will stay. Oh, and make sure you run a backup at least once after the update.



#12 Measure for Measure

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 08:22 PM

 

 


The link you original provided seemed to also suggest that if you mute the video once, it will stay muted for future occurrences. Have you tried that?

No I had not. Thanks so much for providing another set of eyes. In my defense their picture had the start button bolded (which stops the problem once and only once). And tech support never mentioned the possibility of hitting the mute button when I emailed them. Embarrasing.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to implement that workaround. When I hit the mute button the audio plays during the next backup anyway. This happens when a backup is initiated by the user followed by a rescheduling. It also happens when I jump in during the normally scheduled backup. There are a few more variations to try though and I can't rule out the possibility that there are peculiarities in my system causing trouble. Or not. At any rate I'm going to keep tweaking, then consider other options. This will take time because like most people I schedule backups during times that I am less likely to be near my computer.
 

 

I have the same problem, and the Clickfree support told me the mute will stayed muted only with the latest software. If you are still on the previous version, the mute will only work once. Try updating software and see if the mute will stay. Oh, and make sure you run a backup at least once after the update.

 

Thank you d1halu: that's useful info. For the moment, I'm inclined to stick with my workaround as it seems to be holding so far. If you find problems with Clickfree's latest patch, be sure to let us know.

 

I confess that I will feel uneasy about updates containing adware that lack notice, especially for products I have paid for. Also, I am now wary about loading new Clickfree updates that have not been independently evaluated. Updates can't be downloaded directly through the website: they only operate from within the program. So I can't find out what version number I will be downloading: I generally like to load mission-critical software that's been tested a few months in the wild. I guess I can't do that.

 

FWIW, I'm running Clickfree Backup Assistant version 1.0.14.0. Or so it says under About.



#13 Measure for Measure

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Posted 01 November 2013 - 01:33 PM

Also...

 

Recall that Clickfree updates cannot be reversed. So until management fixes that bug, it's advisable to keep what you have if it works for you. I could not find a release history on their website, so it is impossible AFAIK to find out what the update does before you install it. Users fly blind with Clickfree.

 

I suspect their philosophy is to keep things simple. There's something to be said for that. Actually there's a lot to be said for it: bloatware is a curse in the software industry. Unfortunately simple contracts only work when you trust the other party to the deal. And it is difficult to trust an adware provider.

 

 

My fix in post number 10 is still holding. The participants in this thread have been great, and I am grateful for their help. Thank you!


Edited by Measure for Measure, 01 November 2013 - 01:45 PM.





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