Our Weekly Utilities Update report is a list of all the updates for many Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. While utilities can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our main focus in this column is to bring you those that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems.
Checking the hard drive's S.M.A.R.T. status
One way to see whether or not a drive is failing is to check the drive's S.M.A.R.T. status, which is a technology that monitors the drive's functions such as the seek and read times, tracking errors, head stability, etc. If the values for these measurements are abnormal, the drive will report this in the SMART status, and monitoring programs can use this to generate error reports.
Regularly checking the S.M.A.R.T. status of a drive is recommended to ensure the drive is not failing. While the system does this at boot, there are times when people will not reboot their computers for long periods of time, choosing instead to sleep them. In these instances, using a utility to manually check the S.M.A.R.T. status is a good idea.
While full disk maintenance suites such as Drive Genius and Tech Tool Pro will check the S.M.A.R.T. status of a drive, they require purchasing a license. There are free options such as Apple's included Disk Utility and OnyX that will do the same thing; however, like the more advanced utilities they will only monitor the status of a drive on demand.
For continual monitoring of the drive, you will need to install a program such as SMART Utility (recently updated to version 2.1.2) and SMARTReporter. These will run as a menu extra that will provide instant warnings when a drive is giving indications of failure. If you have a system that you rely on which you rarely reboot, having one of these utilities installed may be a good idea.
Other Recent Utilities Updates
- TimeMachineEditor 2.5.2 - Change your Time Machine backup schedule & more.
- Trash It! 4.0 - AppleScript that force-deletes stubborn Trash items.
- Remote Buddy 1.16 - Control mac via iphone, ipod touch, wii, keyspan, apple remote.
- CNET TechTracker app 1.3b2 - Detect and download updates for all of your installed software.
- Socks 1.3.3 - Optimization, maintenance and customization app.
- InterMapper 5.1.9 - Monitors servers, networks & routers.
- BlueHarvest 4.0 - Manage .DS_Store files, resource forks, trash, etc.
Keep in mind that while utilities can help in a vast majority of cases, as with any software, they can be buggy. Since these utilities were recently updated, these are actively being developed and are currently assumed to work. However, developers cannot take into account all system configurations, so be sure to back up your system before running any utilities for the first time. Additionally, double-check with the developer's Web site to be sure they are compatible with your system version. Incompatibilities with system software are the main reason why utilities and programs function improperly.