I’m partial to tools. Maybe it’s a guy thing. Maybe it’s too many years of Windows abuse as a child. Maybe it’s just fun. Maybe there’s a real need for Mac utilities.
Tera says live right, eat right, exercise regularly, and your Mac will treat you well. So will the tools from Micromat.
From what I can tell, Micromat’s been around Macs for years, the popular TechTool Pro being high on the list of Mac utilities collectors.
The latest suite of tools in TechTool Pro 4 has been updated and for those of us inclined to ‘DIY’ (do it yourself) when the need arises, you will like what you get.
Some of the basic tools are what most Mac users never worry about using. Checking hard drives. Optimizing hard drives. Creating an emergency disk. Or, simply testing the Mac for problems.
Most of us treat our Macs the way we treat our cars. We get in and drive.
Some of us tinker under the hood and that’s where Micromat’s tools come in handy.
TechTool Pro 4 is a simple suite of tools for the point and click crowd. S.M.A.R.T disk drives have been available for years. It’s an industry standard that employs predictive diagnostics and analysis.
With TechTool Pro a SMART test monitors your Mac’s hard drive data and warns you of potentially impending danger so you can back up before the drive dies.
Handy. When it works. I had a S.M.A.R.T detector on my three-year-old PowerBook’s drive a few months ago. The drive began acting funny, taking forever to boot, longer to open some applications—all signs of impending disaster.
I backed up and the next day the drive died but the S.M.A.R.T. indicator indicated nothing.
To be fair, it wasn’t TechTool Pro.
Also included is a handy partitioning device that lets you create an emergency volume on your Mac’s hard drive. What’s nifty is you can do this without having to reformat your Mac, create multiple partitions, and start all over again.
The emergency partition can contain backup data, or you can install OS X which may let you get your Mac going should something happen to OS X.
Of course, that’s the problem. Do you spend $100 for utilities that may catch, prevent, help out when problems arise—in an age when fewer and fewer such problems arise?
It’s a judgement call, but I found the eDrive utility did what it said it would do. It created a new partition, and I was able to use it to install a ‘backup’ of Mac OS X.
Tera will tell you to spend the $100 on an external Firewire hard drive instead. Ultimately, your mileage may vary.
Also included in TechTool Pro is MultiTesting, a sweet GUI for a suite of utilities that run odds and ends tests on Mac OS X. There are other utilities for OS X that do similar tests, but no package that does all of them.
Also included is Optimization so you can defrag a highly fragmented hard drive. Usually, a defragged hard drive runs faster, so if things are slowing down, this might be a good pick me up. Tera usually clones to an external drive and clones back again.
Click Here for a look at the TechTool Pro feature list.
Very nifty though not for the faint of heart is Micromat’s DiskStudio. This $50 utility could be a lifesaver for those who understand disk drive partitions and the benefits.
DiskStudio does what’s been available on Windows PCs for many, many years. On-the-fly disk partitioning.
Partitioning does what it sounds like it should do. Partition, or ‘break-up’ your hard drive into multiple smaller, virtual hard drives.
DiskStudio adds new partition’s to your Mac’s drive, deletes old partitions (which can be created by Apple’s very handy Disk Utility (though not on-the-fly), erase and format partitions in a number of formats.
This extra bit of control can come in very helpful in emergency situations. Extra partitions are handy should you want (or need) to check out a new install of OS X but keep the original install available, add a PPC version of Linux or an older version of Mac OS 9.x, or simply create a partition to store extra data.
Click Here for the DiskStudio features page and download link.
All in all, Micromat’s tools worked well for me, though your mileage may vary. It’s usually wise to ‘practice’ on an extra hard drive, even a non-important Mac, until you become familiar with the tool’s features. The flexibility from TechTools Pro and DiskStudio makes your Mac world just a little bit better.
Tera Jean Patricks
I love extra hard drives and cloning tools. That said, DiskStudio is my favorite Micromat tool; especially useful when working with today’s huge hard drives.
I was under the impression that Macs don’t need defrag tools because of OS X. At least, relative to Windows machines which seem to need a good defragging every other Tuesday.
I haven’t bothered to partition a Mac in a few years because OS X has eliminated the need for a ‘fresh install’ every six months or a year. My original Tiger install is still going strong. Panther went perfectly until I upgraded to Tiger.