Sunday, October 25, 2009

Why updating maps on TomTom's One 140 GPS unit sucks the big one

And now for a chapter in the "Don't ever do this if you run a software company" magazine...

Haha, WOW. TomTom's "Home" software to update the Map software on the TomTom One 140 GPS Unit is a huge magical "epic fail" of Quality Assurance proportions. This is so terrible I figure I'd blog about it now that I have a solution, and hopefully others can benefit from the research I just did figuring out how the heck to fix this.

When you buy a GPS Unit from TomTom, it comes with Canada/USA/Mexico maps pre-loaded. That's great, but they also include something nice called a "30 Day Latest Map Guarantee". This sounds great - you can download the most recent map from TomTom via their "Home" software, and it will install itself on the GPS device, giving you the most up-to-date maps possible. In theory, this is a great idea, and solves the need for TomTom to supply a DVD with maps on it inside the shipping box, etc.

In practice, this breaks down terribly. The "Home" software downloaded the maps no problem, worked like a charm, and only took 10 minutes or so for approx 1.6 Gb of files, pretty sweet. The issue occurred when the software attempted to copy the downloaded maps onto the GPS device itself. The copy failed within 5 minutes, claiming that there was a "write error", something to this extent:

ERROR: HomeBase/IO: Error writing file: K:\USA_Canada_and_Mexico_P\cline.dat @ .\portable\cfile.cpp(1947)

Now, if you've got a degree in Computer Science, you can see this is some sort of I/O error, and it's being thrown from a C++ file that is internal to the "Home" software's IO module...?!?!! Of course if you are most people who just bought a cool new GPS and you want to update the software to the most recent maps (since it's being touted as a great new feature of this GPS), or perhaps you just bought this/received this as a gift, then you probably have no clue what just happened and you think you broke the GPS. Of course the software did not back up the previous map automatically for you, so there is no way to re-set the GPS to "factory" settings. And since the map update failed, when you launch the GPS now you get a big startup screen that says "No Maps Found!" OOPS. Epic faaaaaaillllll!!!!!!!!

Wow so of course I bought this GPS unit right before going for a trip when I need to use it, and I thought it would be smart to update the maps to the most recent maps before going on the trip. But now I've had to spend 4 hours figuring out why it's broken and then how to fix it.

The problem appears to be the following:
-The GPS unit has only 2GB internal memory
-The maps alone are 1.65 Gb
-The "Home" software does not delete the old maps first, so it cannot copy the new ones over as there is not enough space on the GPS unit

To fix it:
-Ignore all the places where it says you need to "Activate" the maps first, that seems to be incorrect. I think the "Home" software just can't manage to copy to the device correctly.
-First delete the old maps from the device. Be careful not to delete anything important - you have FULL ACCESS to everything on the GPS unit, as if it was an external Hard Drive. Follow the instructions here closely: and this site ( is good too, lots of people with the same problem.
-Then do not attempt to copy the maps again using the "Home" software. That fails. Instead use Windows Explorer and unzip and unrar the downloaded map directories and CAB file as described in the above sites.
-Then copy the files manually using Windows Explorer to the GPS unit, and make sure not to be viewing or accessing the GPS directory in multiple Explorer windows at once, that seems to make the copy fail.
-Finally... note that you need to set aside ~5 hours for this. Apparently a USB2.0 connection on the TomTom unit was too expensive for this "cheaper" model, and so instead of paying the extra 12 cents for one of those, they opted for a USB1.0 connection which is 40 TIMES SLOWER than USB2.0. (Also, USB2.0 has essentially been a standard for the last several - maybe 5 - years). It's pretty nuts that it's USB1.0, and that adds several more hours to the wait time. WOW. REALLY?!?!?!! ;)

Whew!! Anyway after all that I hope this is gonna work. If not, I will follow what other people on the site mentioned and contact TomTom's customer service directly. Apparently the maps used to be too large to fit onto the 2GB memory and that has recently been fixed by removing some of the "point of interest" data. The problem here appeared to be not that the map files were too large, but rather that the "Home" software wasn't able to copy the files across successfully. Oh yeah, and that it's frickin' USB 1.0?!?!??! REALLLY?!??!?!?!

I'm gonna send this over to TomTom so hopefully in the future they can sort out some of these issues before their customers see it. I wouldn't have minded a bit of extra work to sort out downloading the maps, but it's really quite bad for their customer service to have the software fail, AND clear the maps completely, AND not be able to return the unit to factory install, AND have it take 5 hours to install the maps in the first place. Crazy business.

After all this hopefully I have the GPS working again, and more importantly, hopefully the fancy new map update was worth the hassle!


Matt said...

Thanks for posting this. Yeah I have found the two TomTom XL 335 S GPS units I got from Costco an epic fail as well. Both units got write errors when updating the software (not the maps), the software is small about 35 megs or so and theres about 175 megs free on the device.

Anyways got those same write errors, and guess what I did a check disk on the flash drive and there were a ton of unreadable files, thus meaning the flash ram on the drives had issues.

I returned both devices. Very poor quality in these devices thats all I have to say.

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Dian said...

Thanks fo sharing it.

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Unknown said...

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