Toshiba Fingerprint Utility, deleted accounts and fingerprint orphans

Like always when it’s high time to think “we have to deliver cutting edge bling bling asap, better yesterday”, the result is a shiny fancy gift box with, in the best case, almost nothing in it.

Same with Authentec’s fingerprint sensor built into Toshiba Notebooks (e.g. my notorious Portegé). Basically a great deal, not because fingerprints could ever replace well-designed passwords, but with people and surveillance cams all around at least in public areas and at your customers’. In cases like these, such a sensor is a great improvement to stay polite against customers and relaxed with oneself.

And surprisingly, there is not much to complain about in general. The sensor works, even with fingers dirtyer than yo mama. As long, well. As long as you follow Toshiba’s unconventional idea of what an identity is. According to their delivery, it must be something related to a user account. Which makes a lot of sense with biometric data attached to a physical body. However, let’s not fingerpoint (note that wording excellence!) as I am sure the apprentice in Minato did whatever he could to finish the Toshiba Fingerprint Utility software just in time (as usual). Praise, praise. Just keep in mind what every sensible user knows: Don’t delete accounts before you delete the according fingerprint in your Toshiba! I mean hey, this is what you learn in elementary. Not. (I also figured they probably just didn’t expect their trashbins to last at least as long as until the first account change, but hey. I wanted to leave sarcasm out. Hr hr.)

Anyway: You cannot register a fingerprint with any account unless that has not happened before or it (the finger, i.e. it’s print) has been explicitely deleted from its previous account, still existing or not.

Root cause

This is because the Authentec fingerprint scanner sensor has a built-in and independent flash memory where all scans are being stored (which makes a lot of sense for some reason, I guess). It would have been Toshiba’s job to implement a “user profile about to be deleted” hook which silently deals with this, but you know, we are talking colors to the blind. Gone is gone, end of topic, modern gadgets and fancy comes at a price, here it is.


After more than two years, as it seems, too many people seem to have annoyed the Toshs with kind support requests (or less kind, but more true blamings). So finally, they at least deliver a rescue. Which is fairly simple enrolled (just run as local admin), however, it unselectively erases the entire flash memory. Now you need to re-scan any account’s fingerprint, but after all, you can do that liberately now.

Personal note

Given the fact, that a Google search for “Toshiba Fingerprint Utility Update” reveals some updated utility (although applying to the Canadian market and too unsure for me to roll it out without knowing the side effects), the overall impression to me is that they will gladly celebrate dropping certain product lines within time. Which is a wise decision, as the affected departments might use the time to learn about proper feature planning and stuff. Hahahaha, as. If. Ever.

Enjoy, hope I helped.