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Troubleshooting utility news and updates

Our utilities update report is a column on updates for Mac utilities that have been released in the past week, which include maintenance tools and file recovery and handling tools for OS X.

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 week there were updates for maintenance utilities, file recovery and filesystem management tools, and a couple of disk hardware utilities.

The first update this week is to the popular freeware utility OnyX, which interfaces with a number of the built-in commands and maintenance scripts in OS X to bring them to your fingertips. OnyX and similar utilities are useful to have for tackling odd slowdowns that may happen in OS X. The latest update to OnyX brings version 2.2.8 out of beta development but offers no new features over the previous beta versions. If you have the previous beta then you should replace it with this final release.

The next maintenance-related tool is Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner, which offers options to run similar maintenance routines. Unlike OnyX, however, this tool is $9.99 for a license. There is no information on the changes in the latest update, but it is a small version difference so the update is likely just a bug-fix release.

In hardware utilities there is an update to the new TRIM Support Enabler tool for OS X, which modifies the OS to enable the TRIM command on non-Apple-branded SSD devices. If you have manually upgraded to a third-party solid-state drive, you can enable the TRIM command on your drive with this tool so the drive will better manage garbage collection routines that prepare the NAND memory cells for receiving new data. In some drives this can result in faster performance over time, especially if the drive is heavily used. TRIM Support Enabler is free, and has been updated to work properly on OS X 10.6.8.

A second hardware-related tool is DiskRadar, which offers options for monitoring drive space and health, as well as performing quick cleanup routines to free drive space if needed. This $12.95 utility has been updated to offer new ways of displaying the drive usage map, including color mapping schemes and drive usage geometry. There are also some user interface tweaks and S.M.A.R.T. warning options.

Files and Filesystem
There are three utility updates that are for managing data and filesystem information. The first two, WhatSize and DaisyDisk, are similar to DiskRadar but focus primarily on mapping drive usage and relative file sizes so you can manage the files on your drives.

WhatSize is a $12.99 program that has been updated to better prepare for OS X 10.7 Lion, and fixes a crash situation in addition to some smaller bug fixes. DaisyDisk is a $19.95 utility that has been updated to add support for favorite folders, options to view hidden disk space, more efficient volume scanning, and new UI enhancements. The update is a pretty substantial one so if you use DaisyDisk you might enjoy the update.

The last tool updated this week is a file-recovery software package called Nice to Recover Data. The $69.95 tool, like many similar programs, will scan the hard drive for traces of file structures and provide you with options for recovering them, which can be useful for restoring inadvertently deleted files. The effectiveness of these programs can be hit or miss, so if you do a fair amount of data recovery you might consider having at least two file recovery tools at hand. There is no information on the specifics of this latest update.

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