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April 9th

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Follow-up
[10:53 PM]
Navigation Services Pref Files Don't Zero Out Data
We got a mass of responses to our original story on the data that MacOS 8.5's Navigation Services stores in its preference files. After some testing and helpful e-mails from Observers, we've come to the conclusion that the Navigation Services preference files are just grabbing unused space on the hard disk and not emptying it. In the event that this space was previously used by another file (which was since deleted), the data from the original file appears in the data fork of Navigation Services' preferences.

This does bring up a few interesting questions, though, as Observer Greg Swann pointed out.

  1. These files contain no resource forks. All of the preference information is stored in the data fork, which is not typical for Apple. It makes one wonder if perhaps Apple is moving away from the whole resource fork paradigm towards a more traditional "data-fork only" as is used in the Windows world. This would be sad to see, of course, as there's great strength in being able to use the resource fork to manage data.
  2. There are TWO Navigation Services preference files, both of the same size. What's the need for both of these?
  3. Why do they grow to be so large? On a machine that had MacOS 8.5 installed in August of 1998, these files were over 100k each, yet most of the data contained within was user data, which means that Navigation Services didn't write anything new to most of the file.

So, there doesn't seem to be anything malicious going on here, just a programmer that didn't bother to "zero-out" their data file after creating it. With the security concerns aside, it still introduces some interesting questions.

The Mac Observer Spin: At the same time, this is exactly what so many people have been tense about with Microsoft. There is a difference of course, Word files are traded while the Nav Services preference files aren't going anywhere unless someone maliciously grabs them. In any event, this does not seem up to Apple's usual quality of work.



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