Our utilities update report is a column on updates for Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though a utility can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our focus in this column is on bringing you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems. This past week there were only updates to two utilities: a popular OS tweaking and maintenance tool, and a file recovery tool.
The first utility updated this past week is FruitMenu which is not a troubleshooting tool, but has been the source of problems for a number of people who have not been able to log into the Mac App Store. Developer "Unsanity" has released a new version of the application, but while there is no mention of the Mac App Store in this update's release notes if you have and use FruitMenu and have had problems logging into the Mac App Store, you might try updating the program.
Disk and file system
The majority of updates this week were for tools to manage and troubleshoot storage disks and file systems. The first is "A Better Finder Rename" which is a file renaming tool for managing large batches of files, allowing options to append dates, times, set character sequences, and other options to help organize your files. The latest update is optimized for OS X 10.6, and is not built for previous versions of OS X. The tool will cost $19.95 after the 10-day free trial.
The next updates are for a variety of disk managment tools from Stellar Phoenix, which in the past has been one of several notable file recovery utility developers. In addition to its recovery tools for OS X, Stellar is branching out to include options for managing partitions, fragmentation, cloning, and other options, to make its products more competitive with other disk utility options such as Drive Genius, TechTool Pro, and DiskTools Pro. These tools are great options to have for OS X, but do keep in mind that they are initial "version 1.0" releases and may have some unforeseen bugs.
The first tool from Stellar is "Stellar Phoenix Partition Manager", which will allow you to create, delete, resize, reorganize, and optimize disk volumes in OS X. The tool is $99 after the free trial.
The next tool is "Stellar Drive Clone", which is a $39 program for creating exact bit-for-bit replicas of any currently accessible hard drive or disk image, allowing options to clone to another drive or to a disk image to help in troubleshooting, backing up, or recovering data.
The third release from Stellar is "Stellar Drive Defrag", which like iDefrag is a standalone utility with the sole purpose of optimizing volumes by reorganizing data to be more contiguous and be placed on the disk in optimal locations for access and read performance. As with the cloning utility, this option from Stellar will cost $39 after the free trial.
The last tool released by Stellar is called "Speed Up", which is a general cleaning tool for removing unneeded and redundant files on the filesystem, freeing up space and clearing caches. Unlike some other cleanup and optimization tools, "Speed Up" offers an option to zip up all removed files so they can be easily managed and rebuilt without fully removing them, just in case they might be needed. Speed Up is the cheapest of Stellar's new tools, and is $29 after the free trial.
Beside the options from Stellar, the popular file system checker DiskWarrior has been updated to provide internal optimizations to the program (no new features). DiskWarrior has a reputation for finding and clearing file system errors that other tools have missed, and has been a staple tool for Mac troubleshooting for years. The tool costs $99.95 for a full license.
The only other update this week is to a battery optimizing tool called "Watts," which does not do much except monitor your battery's status, charge state, and offer reminders for running a battery calibration to ensure that the battery is running in optimal conditions.