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Alsoft's DiskWarrior 3

Volume Number: 20 (2004)
Issue Number: 1
Column Tag: Review

Review: Alsoft's DiskWarrior 3

by David Breffitt

New version of an old standard

Introduction

You are bound to have problems sooner or later. Apple ships tools with the OS, but those in the know supplement those tools with third party solutions. Our favorite is DiskWarrior. I cannot tell you the amount of times that this product saved us, or solved the weirdest of seemingly unrelated problems.

Mac users need a disk repair tool on which they can consistently rely. Not only must it never lose the data that they have, but it must also be powerful enough to be able to get all of their data back. Plus, a tool that monitors for drives for hardware malfunctions would have enormous benefits for Mac users.

DiskWarrior is the only utility that takes a different approach to repairing directory damage. It doesn't try to repair the old directory. It simply builds a new and error free directory each time it is run.

How does the directory damage occur in the first place? The continued accuracy of information in the directory depends on the ability of the Mac OS to perform ALL of its update and maintenance operations without any expected interruptions. Also, to help speed up many Mac OS computer operations, important pieces of information are temporarily kept in memory instead of being immediately saved to disk.

We have all experienced these "unexpected interruptions". Common types of these interruptions are kernel panics and crashes, power loss (brownouts and blackouts), turning your computer off without using the proper "Shut Down" procedure, and pressing the "RESET" button. Depending upon the exact moment of the interruption, you stand a good chance that your directory was either not updated correctly or some information was not saved to the disk. You now have directory damage or information loss.

When rebuilding, DiskWarrior scavenges the disk to find all the data necessary to build a replacement directory from scratch entirely in memory. This technique allows the user to preview the disk without modifying it and risking any data.

DiskWarrior's powerful scavenging engine searches the disk for the necessary directory data. In most cases, this data is good and is all that is needed to rebuild the directory. However, this file and folder information can also be damaged. DiskWarrior will determine the quality of any damaged data and, depending upon its quality, repair the damaged data and use it to rebuild the replacement directory. In our experience, no other utility matches DiskWarrior for its ability to scavenge and rebuild Mac disk directories

DiskWarrior fixes wrapper volumes, master directory block and alternate master directory blocks (HFS), volume headers and alternate volume headers (HFS Plus), volume bit maps, catalog trees and extents trees. There are also scores of items within these structures that DiskWarrior can repair.

But sometimes repairing the problem at hand is just not enough. Preventative maintenance is the key to having a healthy hard drive. As hard drives get older, the drive mechanisms wear out and begin to malfunction. Eventually, the malfunctions become so severe that the drive simply stops working. DiskWarrior can be configured to automatically check for possible drive malfunctions, further protecting against data loss. With DiskWarrior installed, users can enable DiskWarriors's hardware monitoring capability, which activates the S.M.A.R.T. (Self Monitoring Analysis And Reporting Technology) routines at regular intervals and checks the results.

Many times applications (even the Finder itself) just start to behave in weird ways -- strange behavior, crashing, and more. We have found, repeatedly, that that the best thing to do is run DiskWarrior at that point. At least half the time, the problems will go away. Some people even run it periodically before symptoms occur. This is a great way to approach your disks health as well.

DiskWarrior 3 is the latest version of this product and is specifically tuned to for Mac OS X running faster than it ever did before. Given all the files that Mac OS X brings to your drive, it's critical to get version 3.

DiskWarrior is available on a CD that will start up in Mac OS X on any Mac with a G3 or better processor and 128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended). For customers who have older PowerPC based Macs that are not capable of running Mac OS X, the DiskWarrior CD will start up an earlier version of the Mac OS, allowing these customers to run DiskWarrior version 2.1, also included on the DiskWarrior 3 CD.

It's not a matter of if you should buy DiskWarrior, but rather if you are going to wait for a problem to occur and then be in dire need. We recommend getting it now so that you simply have it on hand.

Additional information about DiskWarrior can be found at http://www.alsoft.com/DiskWarrior/details.html.


David Breffitt is a network administrator at Xplain Corporation and MacTech Magazine. You can reach him at netadmin@xplain.com.

 
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