Disk utility to diagnose the health of your hard drive and files. (June 28th, 2011)
DiskRadar gives you a temperature guide to the files on your hard drive. The colored pie-shaped diagram is easy for any user to understand. You get an instant map of files used most often, which makes cleaning out those that eat up your hard drive space simple.
Product Manufacturer: Binary Fruit
Price: $14.95, $24.95, $49.95
- Easy to set up and use.
- Streamlined, contemporary interface.
- Includes features for power users.
- Good value for money.
- Missing hard drive repair functions, if needed.
One of the blessings of Mac OS X is that end-users do not need to do many maintenance tasks themselves. Most are auto scripts that either run on start up or shut down and take care of a user's system. There are numerous utility applications for Mac OS X, but not all of them are really useful or even particularly easy to use. DiskRadar, from Binary Fruit joins a well-established category of hard disk maintenance tools that includes among them the better known Tech Tools Pro, Drive Genius, and DiskWarrior. So what does DiskRadar offer users that sets it apart, and is it worth the price of admission?
Most people would consider hard drives as crucial in day-to-day computing. We store our entire digital lives including our purchased music, movies, photos, and work. The mere thought of a hard drive malfunction tends to give us all heart-palpitations, but many of us don't think about their maintenance, or keeping them de-cluttered. While we can function with a messy desktop table, with files, documents, and other odds and ends strewn across them, but we would function more efficiently if we knew where everything was on our desks. Apart from the neat-freaks amongst us, every now and then we tidy up our desks, discover documents that we had been looking for, or had forgotten. Every time we carry out said activities, we feel better - just like driving a car that has just been serviced.
What if we could have a tool that would help give us a snapshot of our office desks, before we started tidying up? What about one that also gives us a sense of the documents and files we use most often, that is, files we need to keep on hand, files we should put away in a cabinet, or those we could simply dump in the trash can?
How It WorksDiskRadar takes a novel approach to doing just that for your hard drive in Mac OS X, and makes it more functional and contemporary looking at the same time. When running a hardware diagnostic, the program presents you with very attractive radar scan that gives a live, real-time image scan of your hard drive. What helps to set it apart from similar utilities, is that it gives you a temperature view of your hard drive.
This gives you a good sense of where the hot spots or the most activity is on your hard drive and which files are being used the most, at a glance. As you might expect, most of the hottest activity centers on system files. Other active files that you use less appear in orange and represent those working files that you use more frequently.
In terms of hard drive maintenance, the files that are of more interest to you are the ones that appear cooler. These are the files that you are rarely, if ever use. You might be surprised at just how much of your hard drive space you could liberate by digging down into these cooler areas of the DiskRadar map, which is achieved with a simple click of your mouse. When you click on any of the colored sections, you are given a detailed breakdown of what they contain and either how critical or non-critical they are by also again highlighting which of the less used files that you might actually access more often. This is both clever and very useful.
To test DiskRadar, I ran it on my own late 2010 iMac 27-inch fitted with a 256GB SSD (solid-state drive) and a 2-terabyte hard drive. Recently, I received messages from the OS that I needed to clear space in order to download and install certain files. In response, I manually investigated my hard drive and deleted files that I wasn't using anymore. Even after some manual tidying up, it wasn't long before I was confronted with the same message again.
DiskRadar arrived at an opportune time and showed me files that I was not aware were saved to the SSD. Among them were large multi-media movie and TV show files created by my Elgato EyeTV app that I had inadvertently directed to my SSD instead of the larger hard drive. Even then, it was questionable that I needed them at all. Without a word of exaggeration, I went from having run out of space on my SSD to clearing over 92GB from the drive. Screenshots included in this review are testament to this space reduction.
If I did this file cleaning manually, it would have taken me quite some time to dig into all the folders to find out what was hogging all that hard drive space. What this process revealed to me is the advantage of using a good utility program. While I won't be using DiskRadar all the time, I will certainly be using it again in the future. It will also come in very handy for managing the puny 64GB of SSD storage that I have on my entry-level MacBook Air.
Power users will also find DiskRadar very useful. While it is simple enough for a novice Mac user, it also shows very detailed information about the technical status of your hard drive. Reports include the power cycles of your hard drive, as well as detailed temperature readings, including current and historical details. It is also features integration with Terminal.
The only notable downside to the utility is that when DiskRadar's powerful predictive algorithms pick an impending hard drive failure, it does not include its own repair functions. For this, users may have to purchase a different utility or simply use the in-built Mac OS X Disk Utility app.
SummaryDiskRadar is a very simple to use utility that belies the complexity of the programming running beneath the hood. This is the crux of good Mac OS X software: Giving users powerful tools that are simple to use, but very effective at what they do. Its design and user interface are top notch. Users of SSDs will find it particularly useful for managing their hard drive space, as will anyone else with a larger hard drive who is looking to get find and remove non-critical files. In these instances, I would argue that it is an essential Mac OS X utility.
The reasonable price of DiskRadar only adds to its value, even though you may not use it every day to find and remove unnecessary files. It is extremely useful when you need it. It never hurts to check on the status of your hard drive, just in case DiskRadar picks up anything screwy and before it fails - in those instances you won't care how much you paid for any utility. DiskRadar is a great tool for Mac users and is currently on special at up to 40% off, making it even better value for money. DiskRadar version 1.1 is compatible with Mac OS X 10.6 or higher. It is available as 22.5MB download from the developer's website.
Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor