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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 readers wrote in asking questions about options for installing larger hard drives in MacBook Pro systems, managing larger ASL log files, how to customize Time Machine's scheduling, and managing PowerPC helper applications in OS X 10.7 Lion. 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: Installing larger hard drives in a MacBook Pro
MacFixIt reader "Matt" asks:

I have a late 2010 mac book pro 15 inch and want to upgrade the hard drive. Is it possible to increase the hard drive larger than 750GB as my local apple dealer said this is the maximum increase available?

You can definitely put a larger hard drive in your system, with the only limits being what is available today. Right now Apple may only offer a 750GB upgrade option, but you can put a 1TB drive in your system if you want. Another option available to you for increasing storage is to replace the optical drive in your system with a mounting bracket (such as this one from OWC--I did a review on it here) that can hold a secondary hard drive, so with current technology you can get up to 2-3TB of storage in your system by doing this.

Do keep in mind that the larger hard drives generally run at slower RPMs than 750GB and smaller drives, which translates into slower access times for files and file fragments. You can get larger ones that spin faster, but they will cost a bit more (~$200-250 for a 7,200rpm 1TB drive as opposed to around $100 for the same drive at 5,200-5,400rpm).

Question: Managing large ASL log files
MacFixIt reader "jdarling" asks:

I get massive asl files written regularly to my asl folder (\private\var\log\asl) which can be as large as 35Gb and soon fill the hard drive. I have a MacBook Pro running 10.5.8. I have taken to deleting them regularly which doesn't seem to cause a problem, but is a nuisance. I suspect they may be linked to Quicksilver, since this started happening after I installed that program. However, I do not want to uninstall it, because I find it so useful. Any suggestions or fixes would be much appreciated. Thanks.

This problem can be exceptionally annoying, but removing them as you're doing is perfectly fine and will not harm a thing. The reason for the logs can be anything, but you can try reading them in the Console utility to see if any specific messages are being repeated over and over in them. This might at least help you determine what the culprit program is.

I recently wrote an article on managing large system logs, which you might find useful.

Question: Customizing Time Machine
MacFixIt reader "fxrosica" asks:

Can I change the time Time Machine backs up my HD each day?

Yes you can, though doing so is not supported by Apple. Time Machine by default runs every hour, but you can change this interval and the timeframe in which this interval will run. To do this, use a utility like Time Machine Scheduler.

Question: Managing PowerPC helper applications in Lion
MacFixIt reader "kingsley" aks:

Both Adobe and Microsoft include apps in their current cs5 and office installations that apparently will not work in 10.7? I see "analyze documents", "contact sheets", "export flash animation", "make calendar", "web gallery" as adobe apps, and "open xml for charts" and "open xml for excel" as office apps that are power pc apps.

These specific tools will not run in Lion, but the software should still work since the main applications themselves are universal or Intel-only. Many of these tools have been lumped in with the installations for compatibility and are no longer fully used by the programs (if at all). I do not use Adobe CS5, I but hear that it runs fine in the developer releases of Lion. Im my experiences with Lion, Microsoft Office 2011 works just fine. Both will likely be updated soon after Lion's release to address small bugs and issues.

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