As Macs continue to gain market share, there is an increased likelihood that you will have to support them if you are a tech. And even if you aren’t a tech, it’s good to know which tools are the best to use when it comes time to repair your own. I have put together a list of what are, in my opinion, the ten best repair tools for troubleshooting, diagnosing, and repairing a Mac.
TechTool Protogo is a Mac repair program suite which contains three of Micromat’s best Mac repair tools; TechTool Pro 8, TechTool Pro Classic, and DiskStudio. Protogo creates a bootable Mac repair toolbox with these tools as well as any of your own tools on a portable hard drive or flash drive. You can then boot from this drive, bypassing the OS, and run diagnostics on a computer to determine problems. Protogo also allows you to repair and recover data from problematic hard drives as well as defragment, optimize, and securely delete data.
Memtest OS X
Memtest OS X is a memory testing program for Mac OS X. It is a command line utility so it can be ran in OS X or in Single-User Mode if your Mac will not boot. It is great for testing intermittent system problems when you are having trouble determining if it is a memory problem. If you prefer memtest with a GUI front-end, then be sure to check out Rember. Rember will run in OS X but will not work in Single-User Mode so Memtest OS X is the better option.
DiskWarrior is arguably one of the best hard drive repair programs for the Mac. It works differently than other data repair programs. Instead of trying to rebuild the damaged data itself, DiskWarrior builds replacement data based off of the original data. It then verifies the new data structure based on the original to make sure it is error free. You can also use DiskWarrior as a preventative maintenance utility for hard disks. When ran, it rebuilds your directory eliminating any damage that you may not be aware of. It also optimizes the directory for better performance.
Onyx is a maintenance, optimization, and personalization utility for Mac OS X. It allows you to run hard drive diagnostics, run system maintenance tasks, delete caches, and configure tons of OS X hidden features. Even if you aren’t using it as a repair utility, it is a great application to help keep your Mac running in top shape.
Data Rescue is a data recovery program that focuses purely on recovering data from corrupt drives instead of hard drive repair. It scans the corrupt drive analyzing all of its contents and allows you to choose which data you would like to recover. It even scans for deleted files. Data Rescue II restores the data to a separate drive leaving the original data intact. It comes with an emergency boot CD that you can use to recover data when the computer will not boot and it also works on drives that won’t mount.
AppCleaner may not be classified as a repair tool but it can be used as one. When you are having trouble with an application in OS X, you can simply remove it by dragging it to the Trash. However, this still leaves behind the applications preferences, caches, and other files that could still cause the same problem after you reinstall it. AppCleaner will remove all of these files making sure that the app is completely gone before you attempt a reinstall.
Drive Genius is a disk utility application for Macs. Its main features include defragmenting, running benchtests, directory repair, integrity checks, surface scans, repartitioning, cloning, shredding data, and more. This is actually the same program used to defrag Macs at the Genius Bar in Apple Stores. Drive Genius also comes on a bootable DVD so you can run it even when a Mac will not boot.
Carbon Copy Cloner
Carbon Copy Cloner is a simple yet very effective backup utility for the Mac. Like most other backup utilities, it can be scheduled to backup your Mac on a regular basis. The best part, however, is its ability to completely clone a hard drive with it still being bootable. This tool comes in very handy when you are replacing hard drives, setting up multiple Macs, or recovering from a system crash. Carbon Copy Cloner is donation-ware so you can download it for free without any restrictions. You can also check out SuperDuper which has more features but costs $27.95. However, if you just need a simple backup and cloning utility, Carbon Copy Cloner does a great job.
Cost: Free! (donation-ware)
AppleJack is a troubleshooting utility for Mac OS X. It runs under Single-User Mode so it can be used even when OS X will not boot. AppleJack will repair disks, repair permissions, cleanup cache files, validate preference files, and remove swap files. You can select these tasks individually or have AppleJack run all of them and even reboot when finished. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article, AppleJack is not yet compatible with Leopard but a new version is in the works. Be sure to check their page frequently for an update because this is an invaluable tool.
Cost: Free! (open-source)
Hardware Monitor is a utility that allows you to view data from the hardware sensors in a Mac. It currently has support for temperature readings, battery data, voltage, current, fan speed, power and load, ambient light, as well as user-defined artificial sensors. It’s a great utility to use when simply trying to find out if your hardware is malfunctioning.
Cost: € 7.00 (can also be purchased with U.S. Dollars)
What Mac OS X repair tools do you like?