Earthlink is promoting a software bundle called “Total Access.” It includes features that sound tempting – including a popup blocker, something more and more people are looking for as popup ads get more intrusive.

“Total Access” is a bad thing. Stay far away!

Earthlink doesn’t adequately advise you that the “Total Access” suite is intended to take over your computer and control your Internet experience for Earthlink’s benefit. According to this well-known tech author, the Total Access programs replace your FTP client, your e-mail client, your PPPoE application, your browser preferences, your search engines, and more. It hijacks your browser home page, it loads toolbars you don’t need, and it litters your desktop and task bar with icons. Total Access 2003 trashes your e-mail, can’t import favorites into the new browser, and it has automatic updates, which means Earthlink can load anything else it likes onto your system at any time. And it can’t be uninstalled.

It’s likely that there’s a spyware component included – Earthlink’s privacy policy explicitly says it can collect and send back information on their customers.

And worst of all, the popup blocker reportedly blocks some popups – but then it generates its own popup ads for Earthlink instead.

One of my clients installed Total Access and discovered that her carefully groomed Internet Favorites list had been vaporized, wiped out, erased. Earthlink tech support acknowledged that the Favorites list was gone, without apology.

It reminds me of the disastrous software package from SBC and Yahoo. It all adds up to one more reason to call Sonic.net and avoid the big companies for now.