Best repair and maintenance apps for Mac: The tools you need to fix OS X

You have a Mac, or maybe you're responsible for taking care of them at your business. You need an toolkit of apps that help you get out of trouble when your Mac's not working right. Maybe a hard drive needs rebuilding or recovery, the memory needs testing, you're desperate to un-delete files, you need to access to deeper system maintenance, or you simply want to better clean out the debris from old apps, there are several tools you can go to. These are my pick for the best Mac apps, and most indispensable tools, you can have.

DiskWarrior 4

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When it comes to rebuilding and recovering a hard drive that's not working right, Alsoft's DiskWarrior is peerless in the Mac realm. I don't know a single Mac IT professional worth their salt who doesn't swear by DiskWarrior, because it just works.

DiskWarrior excels at rebuilding the directory structure of your Mac's hard drive, and it does so by building a replacement directory instead of trying to patch the existing one. It's a data scavenger, and it's really excellent at its job. Sometimes I've even had success getting data off of physically failing hard drives using DiskWarrior.

Techtool Pro 7

Techtool Pro 7

Micromat's Techtool Pro 7 isn't just about recovering files off your hard drive, though it can do that. It can also do a thorough test on your Mac's memory modules to see if there are any RAM hardware failures (they do happen), along with things like Techtool Protection, which can more easily recover files that have been thrown in the trash, and eDrive, which lets you create an extra startup partition on your Mac's hard drive (handy for diagnostic maintenance work). Volume cloning, file and disk optimization (defragmenting), network monitoring and more.

It took until the 7.0.2 update before Techtool Pro 7 started support Macs with Fusion drives installed, but now that it does I feel a bit more comfortable about recommending it as a good option for Mac mavens looking for Mac diagnosis and drive repair software.

Data Rescue 3

Data Rescue 3

Prosoft's Data Rescue 3 is another disk recovery tool. I've had good luck with it recovering deleted files from my Mac's internal hard drive and external volumes. It doesn't write to the hard drive; it requires an external drive to restore files to. The FileIQ feature is particularly handy if there's an obscure file type you want to recover. Provide Data Rescue 3 with an intact sample of the data you're looking to recover, and it'll sniff it out like a bloodhound.

I've had particular luck in the past with Data Rescue 3 getting back deleted or damaged files from camera cards, especially.



Because OS X is a Unix-based operating system, you can do a lot more under the hood when you're accessing the operating system from a command line using the Terminal program. But unless you know what you're doing it's really easy to get frustrated. That's where Titanium Software's OnyX comes into play. This free utility gives you access to a huge variety of system maintenance, performance optimization and customization features by adding a graphical user interface to commands that you'd otherwise need to know Unix to be able to do anything with.

OnyX comes in handy when it comes to the deletion of Internet cache files that can screw things up, like DNS and browser caches, or individual system cache files, OnyX is a godsend. You can automate the rebuilding of your Mail mailboxes, Spotlight index and more. You have control over a wide variety of parameters for QuickTime, Safari, iTunes, your login window and more. Just be warned that with great power comes great responsibility: You can really screw things up if you don't know what you're doing. So be careful.

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This simple (and free) utility isn't exactly a repair utility but I'll include it anyway, because it comes in handy when it comes time to uninstall an application. Sure, the Mac makes it a lot easier to get rid of unwanted software than Windows, but don't be deceived — even if you've dragged a Mac application icon into the Trash, that doesn't delete the Mac app's entire footprint. Often times the app will leave behind configuration files, cache folders and other remnants that occupy disk space.

AppCleaner does a serviceable job of locating all the files associated with the app, and provides an index so you know just how much space they're taking up. Once you've got them all accounted for, click the Delete button and banish them forever.

Your list?

Those are my picks. I'm sure you have a few of your own. Let me know what they are in the comments!

Peter Cohen