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Author Topic: Do you need a third-party disk utility?  (Read 227 times)
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« on: March 12, 2013, 03:01:06 pm »

Do you need a third-party disk utility?


OS X’s Disk Utility—which enables you to format, partition, repair, and perform other kinds of maintenance on disks (including SSDs, flash drives, and disk images)—is good for what it does. Yet for many years conventional wisdom held that you also needed at least one third-party disk repair utility on hand to solve the problems Disk Utility couldn’t. Does that advice still make sense?

Disk utilities claim to be able to fix problems involving a volume’s directory, which keeps track of where all your files and folders are. (Directory damage, perhaps the most common type of disk error, can produce symptoms such as missing or inaccessible files, applications that won’t launch, and startup problems.) Most of these tools can also repair a partition map, which is a chunk of data that describes how data is to be stored on a disk; and many can repair certain kinds of errors with individual files, too (such as damaged preference files). Regardless of those details, when your disk is misbehaving, you probably don’t care if you have an invalid B-tree node size or an overlapped extent allocation; you just want the symptoms to go away.

I’ve personally had numerous disk problems that Disk Utility tried but failed to fix, displaying a scary error message that read: “Error: Disk Utility can’t repair this disk. Back up as many of your files as possible, reformat the disk, and restore your backed-up files.” On these occasions, I was grateful to have more powerful tools available. Many such disk-repair apps exist, but the big three are Alsoft’s DiskWarrior ($100), Prosoft Engineering’s Drive Genius ($99), and Micromat’s TechTool Pro ($100).

Apple has made ongoing hardware and software improvements that keep disks running happily more of the time.

Lately I’ve noticed something curious: While I used to turn to such utilities every few months, I haven’t had to do so in a long time—certainly not in the past couple of years. Anecdotal evidence suggests that I’m not alone in this; disk errors beyond the purview of Disk Utility seem to have declined sharply.
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