Q&A: MacFixIt Answers

MacFixIt Answers is a weekly feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers. We welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your own suggestions in the comments.

MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer questions e-mailed in by our readers. This week we answer questions about Mail forgetting account passwords, options for dual-booting OS X to maintain PowerPC support when Lion comes out, processes "mds" and "kav" taking up CPU time, and a question on Apple's Server Admin Tools versus OS X Server. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present a few answers here, we welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.

Question: Mail forgetting account passwords
An anonymous MacFixIt reader asks:

Every couple of days Mail forgets my password, and repeatedly asks for it. In each account, the PW has been erased. Clicking the "save password in keychain" merely makes it worse. I believe it's been said this is a slow server problem, and Apple times-out and thinks it's the wrong password, so it empties that field. How can I extend Apple's time-out period, or don't I want to do that?

Try going to the Keychain using the Keychain Access utility, and removing any passwords related to your Mail accounts (including outgoing servers). Then relaunch Mail and see if the saved passwords stick. Sometimes if there are multiple Keychain entries for an account then OS X can show this behavior.

Question: Dual-booting to maintain PowerPC support
MacFixIt reader "reno_tahoe" asks:

I understand that PowerPC applications will not be supported under Lion. Is it possible to transfer these items and the SL operating system to another drive? Upgrade to Lion on the original drive, and then be able to boot to either the SL or Lion drive? If so, how? As you can see I am not a Techie, but I have $$$ invested in the PowerPC applications (Adobe CS for example) and do not want to lose them.

You can absolutely do this. One way is to use a cloning utility like Carbon Copy Cloner (a free tool) or SuperDuper to make a mirror copy of your current Snow Leopard installation to an external hard drive. Then when you upgrade you can run Lion on your main computer and when you need the PowerPC applications you can boot to the external hard drive and run them from there. Another option is to partition your main boot drive (though not an option I generally recommend), or if you have a Mac Pro then install a second hard drive and clone the Snow Leopard installation to it (internal drives will be faster than external ones).

The cloning process is quite simple:

  1. Get a hard drive that will adequately hold the data on your current drive.
  2. Download your cloning utility.
  3. Select the source drive (your current boot drive).
  4. Set the destination drive (the new external drive).
  5. Start the cloning process.

It may take a couple of hours to complete the cloning, but when it's done you should be able to boot off the new drive with no problems. Selecting your boot drive is as easy as rebooting while holding the Option key to show the available boot volumes.

Question: Processes mds and kav taking up CPU
MacFixIt reader "slewis" asks:

I have been using Activity Monitor lately to see what's going on on my MacBook Pro which has been sort of stalling in the middle of things. I have noticed two items that seem to be real CPU hogs, kav & mds, both owned as root. These sometimes run up to 90% of the CPU, however, I can find no information on them anywhere as to what they are doing. MacBook Pro 5,2, 4 GB Ram, 320GB disk-235 GB used. Thanks.

One process I know of that is called "kav" is Kaspersky Antivirus, so if you have this installed and configured to run then that is what the process is. You can try uninstalling Kaspersky or reconfiguring it to scan differently in order to reduce its impact on the system.

The mds process is the disk indexing tool for Spotlight, which can take up some CPU time when running, but usually stops after a few minutes. You can try clearing the Spotlight index to see if forcing the system to rebuild it will help. To do this, go to the Privacy tab in the Spotlight system preferences and drag your hard drive to it. Then remove your hard drive and the system will rebuild the index. In addition to doing this, try running a permissions fix on the boot drive, and run a volume verification/repair on the boot drive as well to fix or check for any errors that could contribute to the long indexing times.

Question: Server Admin Tools vs. Server software
MacFixIt reader "Don" asks in the comments of a recent article:

I am looking at a folder in my Applications folder named 'Server'. I recall downloading and installing the Server Admin Tools a few weeks ago. I've not used them and was wondering if those programs -- iCal Server Utility, Podcast Composer, Server Admin, Server Monitor, Server Preferences, System Image Utility, Workgroup Manager, and Xgrid Admin -- provide some (if not most) of the functionality of OS X Server?

No, those utilities do not provide the server functions. Those are part of Apple's Server Admin package, which is used to administer the server software, but they themselves are not the actual server software. Most server software programs are behind-the-scenes daemons that run continuously or on demand, and these tools help you alter the configuration files for these daemons. However, you can use them to configure some of the basic server packages included in the standard "client" version of OS X.

Questions? Comments? Have a fix? Post them below or e-mail us!
Be sure to check us out on Twitter and the CNET Mac forums.

Featured Video