There’s plenty going on inside your Mac that we seldom know about, care about, or would know what to do about it if we knew. Certified Mac Geeks can rummage through everything using the Terminal.app, but average Mac users just want to point and click and have fun.
Still, how do you know your Mac is working as it should? It’s not as if Apple provides much of a car-like dashboard that tells us the status of much of anything. The Menubar has a clock, and MacBooks can use the Menubar to view battery usage, but that’s about it. Until now.
8 Tests, Free, Minus 2
MacCheck is the go-to utility to, well, for lack of a better term, check your Mac’s vital signs much like a car’s dashboard tells you what’s going on inside. Ford and Honda and other manufacturers don’t charge you extra for a dashboard, and MacCheck checks your Mac for free.
Unfortunately, MacCheck isn’t a dashboard, though it performs dashboard-like functions. Eight of them, to be exact (minus one if you don’t have a Mac notebook because one is the battery check; and minus still another if you’re not using a RAID array, which most Mac users do not).
MacCheck scans problem areas, storage, and looks for system errors to report back to you. Here’s the list of what you get with a few clicks.
Power On Self-Test — The Power On Self-Test (POST) is an automatic test that is run by your Mac’s hardware each time your Mac powers up, before Mac OS X is loaded. POST checks the basic functioning of RAM, Processor and boot ROM.
I/O Check — I/O Check monitors your system for input and output (I/O) errors. I/O errors occur when a file either cannot be read from or cannot be written to the disk. This may indicate either that the file being written is corrupt or that there is a problem with the disk.
Battery Test — Laptop batteries can be charged a large but finite number of times, or charge cycles. Once the battery has exceeded a certain number of charge cycles, it will begin to degrade, and will no longer hold a full charge or last as long. When laptop batteries are reported as having ‘poor’ condition, or are exhibiting other problems, you may need to replace your battery.
Memory Test — RAM is very susceptible to damage. Static, heat and even normal air moisture can damage the RAM used to store your Mac’s workspace. The memory test uses a basic algorithm to test for basic problems with your RAM.
SMART Test — SMART stands for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. SMART technology monitors a drive as it is used and looks for unusual behavior. Problems found by this test indicate possible impending drive failure.
RAID Status — RAID stands for Redundant Array of Independent Disks, and is commonly used to create redundant data storage or increase data access speeds. The RAID status test checks any internal RAID arrays for integrity errors.
Volume Structures — A drive’s volume structures consist of the data that tells the drive where to find its data. Damage to a volume’s critical data structures can result in lost or damaged files. This test checks your Mac’s internal drives for errors in the volume structures. Many volume structures problems can be repaired using Apple’s Disk Utility or a third party utility such as TechTool Pro.
Partition Map — The partition map is the portion of the disk that defines how the drive is divided up. Errors in the partition map can cause drives to appear to vanish. This test checks for errors with the partition map.
Are these tests necessary? No. But they’re useful, and if performed regularly, might just alert you to a growing problem in your Mac’s system. Regardless, MacCheck is free so there’s very little not to like. The app’s developer is Micromat who has been working on Mac apps for many years. I won’t consider this a must-have app, but if you have it you’ll feel better when using it. Unless it finds something bad.