all is not what it seems to be - read on !


if you want to try and get something for nothing - then at least read what we have to say. As experts in this area we have a good deal of experience and may save you wasting your time and your money.   

Best Free Maps for tomtom satnav's

People often ask us about where they can download free tomtom maps, for their satnav. They have a forthcoming holiday in Europe, or are going to a new area of the UK camping, travelling or touring. They have found perhaps that they are driving through" fields" because the roads are not on their maps. Perhaps also they travel for work and need to locate newer postcode areas, or find locations like B&Q, Homebase, Tesco, Sainsbury, Esso, ASDA or any other major retailer.

We accept that you may need some new maps, however before you start looking all over the internet and involve yourself in a lot of time and effort - we suggest you glance through this short and helpful article.

Where can I get updates for free tomtom maps ?

Lets  explain one thing from the start:

There is no such thing as a "free map". Creating and updating maps takes a lot of people and an awful lot of time ! There are just two major map suppliers - TeleAtlas and Navteq and they have massive teams of people working on this. Drivers on all the major roads of Europe, people at computers assembling and adding changes - its a huge industry.

Here at Landis Media, we employ 5 people just to update the location and POI information which we supply. By the way our useful POI info is FREE. However - maps are so much more complicated than locations. That's because you have a lot of points to make up just one section of road.

Why are tomtoms maps on SD cards so expensive ?

Maps are now extremely closely linked with satnav's that they are almost inseparable now. A few year ago - tomtom tried to make a move and take the business "high ground". In a bid to guarantee their future (in the satnav market) they tried to buy up (for a world beating 2 billion) the main map maker - TeleAtlas. Arch rivals to tomtom - Garmin fired back with an anti-monopoly lawsuit to derail the whole thing ! Corporate war is not a nice sport and this went around the houses. It does show that maps are the key component to a satnav and as such nobody - tomtom nor garmin will be giving them away.

That's why its appears to be almost as expensive to update your old satnav maps as to buy a new satnav. Its a deliberate ploy on behalf of satnav manufacturers. See our comments on this development later in this article.

The only "free map" is a "stolen map"

This means that the only place to get a "free map" is to "steal a map". Nobody likes to think of themselves as a thief, but copying occupies a “grey area” on most peoples moral compass. They don’t for example see copying a CD as the same as mugging an old lady for her purse !

Because of this, we are divorced from the act of “theft” and that’s why “hackers” or as I like to call them – “thieves” do what is termed in criminal jargon as the “heavy lifting”. They get the maps, crack them, copy them and distribute them on the Internet – so we can all use them !


Turn your tomtom into an ordinary "house brick" !

You may have heard the term "bricking" a device or satnav ? Well it means destroying the main hardware, flash memory or other part of an electronic device, such that it cannot be recovered., Its of course an easy thing to do - destroying hardware can be accomplished in a number of easy ways.

However when a person "bricks” this tends to be done accidentally - normally whilst trying to upgrade, hack or unlock the device. Satnav makers like tomtom put a lot of work into copy protecting maps and SD cards - things are not simple. Illegally updating tomtom maps does take practice, luck and expertise. If something goes wrong you can wipe the whole tomtom or “brick it”. A satnav is not like say a TV set, which can be turned on and off to reset its systems. Many a “weekend wannabee” hacker has “bricked” (i.e. turned the device into little more than a house brick") a tomtom !

Details of the very complicated map update process

Just to illustrate what's involved we will talk you through a typical method for adding the "free" hacked maps to a tomtom. This is not meant as a guide - you can find those on many pirate site. This is purely to show how complex it is and what can go wrong at every stage of the procedure. To actually update a tomtom you will need to do the following:

1. Go online and find a popular pirate site and download the following: a recent Navcore, a recent map and an illegal activator program. This is harder than it appears and may end up with torrents, virus and all sorts pirate site issues.

2. Download the files and open them on your computer - unpack them. At this point you hope there is no spyware or trojans (keyloggers, filesharing etc) inside. Copy the Navcore onto your tomtom (you have just voided your warranty) and reset - hoping the non standard OS makes the tomtom come on.  You are now running a totally non standard system. Copy the hacked map and hope that it works with the Navcore you just used.

3. Often you will find you have to search for another Navcore or map (they have to match) - often this stops the tomtom working and you cant turn it on (or off). There's a huge amount of fiddling at this stage. Finally you can use the Activator (which must be run on your PC - again software from a known criminal and illegal hacker).

4. Once completed you turn it on and hope for the best. Often you find the message "this map has illegal attributes and cannot be used on this device" - so back to the drawing board as you try and fix this.  Minus of course your working tomtom, standard map., warranty and peace of mind !

During this process, which obviously takes an awful lot of your time - things often do go wrong and its not a simple process, especially as its rather technical. Any glitches, bugs or problems you now have with the satnav you have to put up with, because you don't know if they are from the pirate software you loaded or some other reason. That's why running pirated and badly "cooked up" software is always a bad idea. There's no recourse to any helpline and also its very hard if not impossible to turn things back to the proper tomtom system.

No turning the tomtom back from hacked maps

The conundrum is that as a consumer you end upo in a very poor situation. Hacked tomtoms cannot be used, or risk being used on a proper tomtom update solution. Risking your tomtom by plugging a hacked device into the standard tomtom systems is foolhardy.

We have taken hundreds of calls from people who have bought or used hacked maps and then ended up wiping the whole device as well as losing everything else when they plug it in. Tomtom are not "silly" and expend money, effort and expertise on industry leading anti piracy measures for their satnav’s. Plug a pirated tomtom map unit into any tomtom updater, it will recognise the theft and initiate a security wipe !

come now aren't you being over dramatic about all this ?

Hackers reading this may want to say “you are being over dramatic about this”, however we disagree. They are not the one being called up by innocent people who have fallen foul of pirate software ! This does really happen, we get called all the time by poor people who are in trouble. It's easy for a hacker who knows his stuff, of course he can patch systems and knows when to plug in home and when not to. However, the average consumer doesn’t know all this and so makes slips and ends up paying for them.

Its a false economy to use anything pirated, any short term gain will be outweighed long term with the after effects. At the end of the day – thieves and criminals are no friends to society. Theft is not a good sound basis to operate on.

In fact pirated software takes a lot of time and hassle and we think its best left to others. The reality is that even if you manage all this - you will end up with a non standard tomtom, that cannot be updated, has no warranty and all you got is a slightly newer map !

Why you shouldn't use free map updates

To be clear, we have no special moral argument to give to people - we just think there are lots of good practical reasons that using hacked maps doesn't make sense.

First: you don't get what you were after. What you want is an updated map on your tomtom. What you end up with following this route is an our of warranty, non standard tomtom, with bugs and possibly a virus and a slightly newer map is you are lucky. If you are unlucky a wiped tomtom and nothing you can do

Hacked maps "for free" online are never very up to date. tomtom spend a lot of effort on stopping hacking and so even the best hackers take a long time to crack the maps. That means any map you download will already be well out of date.

Second: you open your computer and satnav to a lot of risks from Trojans, virus or worse.

A known criminal stops you in the street and offers "for free" to come to your house and make your electricity meter run backwards. Would you invite him in and then pop out to the shops for a bit - leaving him to it ?

Well the above is the equivalent of what you are doing, by using known illegal software on your systems. What reason are these criminals offering the maps for free download in the first place ? In fact you just hope they are nice people who are giving away free maps !

No support / No complaints - why would anyone want to use broken software ?

Third: The risk is that the tomtom may stop working, it will have bugs and glitches and the warranty is void. There seems to be very little to gain from doing all this and a lot can go wrong. You can never ruse the proper system again on that tomtom or even update it legally.  Its very hard to swap back to using the right software. You cannot just turn it on and off or reset it - you have to try to copy proper Navcore and maps back on - not easy to do.

Experience is a hard teacher

There are so many cases of people who downloaded or purchased “cheap” cracked maps from eBay or other places and these have ended up wiping their tomtoms. They don’t have any recourse to anyone, cannot complain and have of course broken the law by using copied or hacked software. tomtom are of course not sympathetic to anyone who steals from them.

With a satnav what you want is a tool that will get you from A to B and work. You also have no idea what future updates you might want to use, why throw all this away for a few pounds saving “short term”.

Further – you have no guarantee even if you do install a hacked map, that it is what it says it is. Can you check every part of the map to check it is working properly ? Why trust criminals ?

A proper map from tomtom is reliable, checked and genuine. Our BEST ADVISE is to avoid using illegal software of any kind - what most people want is a system which works - not a new headache to maintain !

Helpful money saving tips for updating tomtom maps

Tomtom have two main ways for subscribers to register an email address with them for discounts. The first is tomtom HOME – the older system. The second is Mytomtom the newer system, - you need to use the one relevant to your satnav model.

You also need to make sure that you tick the box which “allows them to send emails of offers and discounts to email”. This ensures that you always get the offers that tomtom announce and will be included the discounts on maps. Then as soon as one arrives (and if you need a new map) we suggest you take up the map discount offer. The reason is simple – tomtom often have time limits on all offers and if you don’t use it, you may lose it !

When are the tomtom map discounts ?

Spring and Summer seem to be the times each year that tomtom offer these discounts, keep a look out.

How do I know that I need a tomtom map upgrade ?

So how can I tell the map I have needs an update ? tomtom (as they make money from maps) naturally encourage the idea that roads alter a lot, all the time and everyone should be updating their maps as often as possible !

This is linked in with the idea that having the latest is best and you always need to keep everything as up to date as possible. Its an interesting point and we think that a subtle shift has occurred within the electronics industry and consumers haven’t noticed yet.

You are still in the mindset that you need the latest and most up to date, but do you ?

Its true enough that ten years ago, advances were being made in electronics and computers at an amazing rate. This gave rise to a mindset amongst consumers that because of rapid changes, they required the latest models at all times. This fed the industry's and so features, add-ons, speeds, sizes all raced ahead.

Models did need the latest software otherwise they would be effectively obsolete when compared to a model just one year later. The key was every consumer tried to buy not based on requirements, but on spec, speed, features and updates.

Interestingly we think this effect levelled out a few years ago and so the rapid advances have slowed. Laptops are no longer all sold based on the speed of the CPU, but more on what the user can do with them.

So – the same applies to maps and updates – are they required in the first place ? If we look at the equivalent you might use what can that tell us about things ?

What are the key factors at play

If you had a road atlas in your car, you wouldn’t throw it away because it was 5 years old ? That’s because its still useful , some roads may have changed but the bulk of the Atlas is correct. It’s the same with the satnav it doesn’t stop being useful on one day of the year. Over time more roads are altered and the satnav goes out of date.

How often should I update my SD card or tomtom maps ?

Our test is this: how often do you find the map is a problem ? If we see we are driving through fields (on the satnav screen where there are no roads) and we cannot find Postcodes we look for - then it needs updating.

For most average people, doing average driving - an update every two years is about right. tomtom make a big show of how often the roads change each year - the secret seems to be in the definition of the worked "change"

what do tomtom roads "changing" actually mean ?

We think its unlikely that roads change as much as 10% per year - there doesn't seem to us to be 10% more road sin the UK. There are no massive new road building program around right now.

Change may mean, re-surfaced, signs and entry points alter and new roundabouts. If that's the case - these may be Changes" but they don't seem to cause a problem or require a new updated map.



How often do roads really change on satnav maps ?

tomtom have a vested interest in convincing you that an update is required. Its important what the word "change " means here. Is a change a brand new built road ? probably not - its more likley that a "change" may well include altering speed limits, re-surfacing, road works., engineering, redefinitions and so forth. In fact new roads being built do not amount to 10% each year.

How many local roads can you think of that are new – this year ? Did one tenth of your local roads get built last year – no ! That’s why we use two years as a sort of rule of thumb for how often maps need to be updated.

The acid test to see if your maps need updating

The best test is of course usability – are the maps you are using causing you problems when you drive ? Are there lots of postcodes missing ? Are you driving on unmarked roads often ? Is this making it difficult to use the tomtom ? If these answers are yes - then you probably need to update your maps. If it’s a maybe or no – then think again ! At least wait until tomtom offer a discount !


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Mario Kitcher who lives at 164 Hebble Lane, Wheatly, Halifax, West Yorkshire also purchases products and then doesn't pay for them his phone is +441422250610 and his email address is mariok@madasafish.com please avoid doing business with him as you will lose money too  

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The picture above shows just how complex the satellites are that orbit the earth to enable us to use GPS. Like those satellites running a website is also a complex set of operations.

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