By "Doctor Dave" Greenbaum
Drive Genius 3 is ProSoft Engineering's (http://www.prosofteng.com) latest version of its drive manipulation and maintenance application. If you can do it to a hard drive, Drive Genius supports it with an attractive and intuitive interface. The program requires an Intel Mac running Mac OS X 10.5 or higher and 512MB of RAM, as well as a DVD drive for some functions.
The program has two basic components. First is DrivePulse, which runs as a background app constantly checking all your hard drives for basic problems relating to drive and file integrity. This early warning system is optional and doesn't work well when someone isn't an administrator of their computer.
For users who absolutely rely on their computer, DrivePulse will help detect small problems
before they become big problems. In particular, the fact it can monitor your locally attached Time Machine backup really helps prevent data loss.
The main program includes a suite of utilities that goes way beyond the basic initialization, repair, secure erase and partitioning that Apple's Disk Utility offers. Although most of these functions have to be run off another computer or mounted via a DVD, Drive Genius has
its proprietary "DriveSlim" function that can help shrink a drive that is overrun with unnecessary language files (called "localizations"), as well as remove bloated code that won't run on the
selected system (primarily intel vs. non-intel systems).
Many functions cannot be performed off a booted volume and you may have to download a bootable DVD for an extra fee if the shipped version of Drive Genius doesn't support your computer. While the fee is only US$5, it is nonetheless annoying.
Typical of most drive programs, Drive Genius includes functions to benchmark, clone, defrag and edit sectors. Most of Drive Genius's function could be cobbled together with third party and Apple's utilities, but with Drive Genius you get centralized support and an easy-to-follow PDF manual.
All utilities are presented in an extremely stylized and Mac-like interface that is most reminiscent of Apple's Cover Flow combined with multi-colored graphs. The program's key functions are 64-bit, making it much more efficient for longer operations. According to ProSoft, Apple's own Geniuses use Drive Genius as part of a ProCare yearly tuneup.
Drive Genius 3 costs US$99 for new users for a personal use license and $249 for a professional use license. Upgrade pricing is offered to current users, and a demo is available for download.
Pros: Extensive suite of utilities attractively presented and easy to use
Cons: Many functions require booting off a DVD or external drive, may
have to pay extra fee for bootable DVD image.
Rating: 8 out of 10