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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. The current updates are to maintenance software, file management utilities, and a disk management tool.

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 a couple of popular maintenance packages and a new cloud-based maintenance option, some file management tools, and a RAID monitoring utility.

This week MacCleanse and Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner were updated. The Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner update appears to be just a small bugfix release, and the MacCleanse update addresses a bug in which secure deletions would stop prematurely. The programs are among several that can be used to run general maintenance routines for clearing up the odd slowdowns that can occur over time in OS X. MacCleanse is $19.95, and Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner is $9.99 for a full license.

Another maintenance program that was updated this week is iTuneUp, which its makers describe as a cloud-based optimization and maintenance tool that will run automatically to tweak your system's performance in real time. This is a new maintenance-related tool that draws on information from other iTuneUp users (perhaps similar to iTunes' Genius feature) to offer performance tweaks based on the particular set of slowdowns, hangs, and crashes you are experiencing. It is a unique approach to regularly maintaining your Mac, but unfortunately there is no information on exactly what iTuneUp does to the system, and how it uses your system's information in its "cloud" features. Additionally, given that it is a relatively new software package in its initial release, you might approach it cautiously for now. The program is a free tool.

Files Management
A couple of file management tools have been updated this week. The first is BlueHarvest, which provides options for managing hidden files that may appear on network volumes, external volumes, or any storage location that is accessed by multiple operating systems. The tool can be used to remove the .DS_Store files that OS X creates, .Trash folders, and Windows thumbnail databases and recycle bin files, among others. The program has been updated to support OS X 10.7 when it is released, and addresses some French localization issues. The program costs $16.95 for a license after the free trial.

The next file management tool is the popular utility WhatSize, which provides a graphical view of relative file sizes, so you can better determine which files and folders are taking up the most space on your drive. The tool is similar to GrandPerspective and DaisyDisk, and costs $12.99 for a license. The latest update fixes problems with exporting large folders and a crash when updating the program.

If you use a RAID disk setup (especially a software raid) then you should use a utility to regularly check the health of the RAID. Many RAID systems have these built in, but some, like Apple's software RAID, do not. RAID Monitor will monitor your array in real time and offer notifications via e-mail of any issues that need to be addressed. The program is $30 for a license, and the latest update adds a small enhancement to the SMTP agent for supporting different authentication methods.

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