Prosoft releases first Mac App Store-hosted disk utility

Earlier this week, utility vendor Prosoft Engineering announced that Drive Genius 3 LE ($60), a special version of the company's flagship product, Drive Genius 3 ( ; $99), is now available on Apple's Mac App Store.

Like the full version of Drive Genius 3, the LE version includes features for maintaining and repairing your hard drive. Specifically, the program can monitor drives for drive-directory issues; fragmentation; and hardware problems; repartition and defragment drives; clone volumes; and more.

However, Drive Genius 3 LE also lacks a number of the significant features and capabilities of its non-LE sibling—but not necessarily because Prosoft wanted to hamstring the company's most-capable product. As I covered last October when the Mac App Store was first announced, Apple's developer guidelines for Mac App Store software are quite restrictive, especially when it comes to working with hardware and system files. To over-simplify, when it comes to software such as drive utilities, programs from the Mac App Store cannot modify system-level and system-owned files—not even by requiring the user to give explicit permission to do so—nor can programs view or modify files owned by users other than the one actually running the program.

These rules have a number of significant repercussions for Drive Genius and other disk utilities. For starters, Drive Genius 3 LE works only with external, non-startup drives. (According to a Prosoft representative, the startup volume and other internal drives are attached to the system during startup and thus require admin-level access to monitor and modify.) Second, as implied above, Drive Genius 3 LE is limited to monitoring files that can be accessed by the current user, and modifying files to which the current user has write access. So if you've got an external FireWire or USB drive, some of Drive Genius LE's features—such as its secure-file-erase function—will work only on those files owned by the person currently running Drive Genius 3 LE. These restrictions also mean that the full-version's DriveSlim feature (which, among other things, modifies application files) and live-defragmentation feature are missing from Drive Genius 3 LE.

One other change necessitated by the Mac App Store's restrictions is that the DrivePulse drive-monitoring feature must be manually enabled by the user. (On the full version of Drive Genius 3, DrivePulse is enabled by default.)

When asked about the target market for the LE version, compared to that of the full version, a Prosoft representative noted that the LE version will appeal to people who prefer to use the Mac App Store for purchasing software, as well as those who are "looking for a full-featured drive maintenance tool" but aren't familiar with Drive Genius and would appreciate a lower-cost way to become familiar with its features. (The company did not have a comment about the restrictions of the Mac App Store.)

At the same time, ProSoft is also offering an easy upgrade path for those who purchase the LE version from the Mac App Store and later decide they want all the extra features and functionality of the full version: By entering your Drive Genius LE ID number (available from the program's About box) on the Prosoft Website, you can upgrade from to the full version for $39 (plus shipping). The combined cost of LE ($60) and the upgrade ($39) is the same as the cost of buying the full version of Drive Genius 3 directly from Prosoft, so you aren't penalized for going the Mac App Store route first.

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