updated 03:45 am EDT, Thu September 25, 2008
Drive Genius 2.1
Every hard drive will eventually fail. Backing up your data can protect you against a hard disk crash, but you can often prevent minor hard disk problems through proper maintenance with special disk utility programs such as DriveGenius 2.1.
This utility provides basic maintenance tools for repairing corrupted directories, cloning drives and volumes, and defragmenting files. Although Mac OS X doesn't need defragmentation as often as Windows PCs, occasional defragmentation (such as every three or four months) can insure that your Mac runs at optimum efficiency.
The newest feature of this utility is called DriveSlim, which strips away unnecessary files to free up additional space on your hard drive. The five types of files this app looks for and gives you the option to remove include files over 10MB that haven't been accessed in 30 days, duplicate files larger than 1MB, foreign language files, Universal Binaries, and cache and other temporary files. All of these features can be customized so you can specify that you only want to look for files over 25MB that you haven't accessed in 45 days or search only for French and German foreign language files to remove.
The idea behind stripping out large files over 10MB is that if you haven't accessed that file in the past 30 days, you probably don't need it. Likewise, if this utility finds duplicate files, it can delete these copies and replace them with alias files, which take up far less space.
Foreign language files often get scattered across your hard disk because many programs include foreign language support. Of course, if you never need to work in Finnish or German, keeping these foreign language files is a waste, so you might as well strip them out to save space.
Universal Binaries always gobble up more space than necessary since they contain two programs smashed into a single file, one compiled for PowerPC processors and a second, identical program compiled for Intel processors. If you're running an Intel-based Mac, you can safely delete the PowerPC version of your program (and vice versa), which saves roughly half the size of the original file. Strip away the unused portion of all your Universal Binary programs and you'll likely save hundreds of megabytes or more.
If deleting parts of your working applications makes you squeamish, the utility can archive your files first before stripping out the unused portion. Now if your program fails to work for any reason, just restore the archived version.
Finally, this app can also delete temporary cache files that programs, such as Safari and other browsers, often create and leave behind on your hard disk. By wiping out so many different types of files, you'll free up extra space on your hard disk without sacrificing any space for crucial data.
DriveGenius has always been an excellent maintenance tool (which even the geniuses at the Apple Stores use), and with the addition of the DriveSlim feature in version 2.1, this utility is even more versatile. Its $99 price tag is reasonable and its protection against disk problems can be invaluable. You may not need DriveGenius, but your Mac will be more efficient if you get it.