When your Mac starts acting unreliably your first line of defense is Apple's Disk Utility, but that solves a small number of problems, such as permissions and disk verification and repair. A good second line of defense is Drive Genius 3 ...
When your Mac starts acting unreliably your first line of defense is Apple's Disk Utility, but that solves a small number of problems, such as permissions and disk verification and repair. A good second line of defense is Drive Genius 3 for Mac from Prosoft Engineering. Drive Genius offers repair and maintenance utilities you can use to make sure your hard drive runs at maximum efficiency.
This US$99 suite of programs includes the following modules: Information, Defrag, DriveSlim, Repair, Scan, DrivePulse, Integrity Check, Initialize, Repartition, Duplicate, Shred, Benchtest, and Sector Edit. When you launch Drive Genius you can choose any one of the available utilities from a set of icons displayed across two screens. Each module presents an option to choose a drive, volume or files and folders on the right, depending on the utility's purpose.
Options available for each utility appear in the main window with simple instructions. A question mark icon on the bottom right opens the help file. The simple Preferences offer three options. You can choose to show the custom animation of data moving around a disk as a tool works, check for updates, and turn on email notification when a tool finishes its task. This last preference is a subtle reminder that many of the functions take a significant amount of time to run.
The Information module provides a complete description of your hard drive, probably more information than you want. The balance of the modules are best run after you backup your data, in case of unexpected problems.
Scan, Integrity Check, and Benchtest run read and write tests on your hard drive. They check for bad blocks, the health of your hardware, and in Benchtest, test the drives read and write speeds. As these tests sort of hammer on your drive, any electrical interruption or serious drive problem can result in data loss. That's one good reason to make sure you have a good backup or copy of your drive on hand. The Duplicate module can create a backup for you, but as with many of these tools, it will not copy your current start-up drive unless you start from a different drive. Duplicate creates a bit-by-bit copy of your drive, so you must use a blank drive of equal or greater size to use it. Personally, I prefer Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper! to backup my drives, but including a backup module in Drive Genius just makes sense.
It's actually best to use the Drive Genius startup disk from which to run most of the tools. These tests chew through quite a bit of time, so make sure you run the programs when you don't need the machine for a number of hours.
The problem I often solve using Drive Genius 3 is a slow drive and one that mysteriously is eating up space at a surprising rate. That's where DriveSlim and Defrag come in handy.
DriveSlim is useful to search for large files, duplicate files over 1 MB, Unused Localizations (language files you don't need), Universal Binaries, and Cache and Temporary files you no longer need. I'm not quite sure I understand how it works though. I wasn't happy with the way DriveSlim displays the information, I found that it showed duplicates that were not, but only with files over 320 MB. On one drive, using Mac OS X 10.6.8, it listed both duplicate files and on another, in OS X 10.8, it listed only one file and I had to search for the duplicate in the Finder to see where it was stored. I then manually removed the file stored in the wrong folder. I'm sure that's not the way the tool was designed to work, but I was not confident to just check a box next to the DriveSlim found file and have it decide which file to keep, where to alias that file, or where to back up the file. You can choose which of the files to locate, but if you choose to act on only one type of file, you must run DriveSlim again to work on another type of file. Time consuming to say the least.
Even though most people claim you don't need to defragment a Mac-based hard drive, the OS actually onl