Thursday, February 21, 2013

Alternatives to Disk Utility in Mac OS X

Mac OS X provides a slew of built-in functionalities that are bound together in Disk Utility in order to monitor and troubleshoot certain arising issues in the volumes of the machine. Being a Mac user, you might be familiar with the Disk Utility, as meeting some common issues is obvious in Mac.

Disk Utility is found in Applications-> Utilities, and allows you to Check and Repair the issues you observe with the help of this monitoring and repair mechanism. However, people are often seen complaining that Disk Utility is unable to resolve the issue, does not allow resizing an existing Mac volume is throwing Partition Failed error etc. and demand for an alternative that can resolve such issues. The reason why it cannot resolve some issues is that it is built to monitor and troubleshoot a set of certain issues; however, it cannot repair anything for which it is not built.

If we talk about the alternatives of Disk Utility to optimize Mac OS X, the tools which strike the mind are “Safe Mode” and “Single User Mode with fsck.”


Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a reduced functionality and auto diagnostic mode in a computer operating system that performs automatic disk checkup to fix most (if not all) of the minor issues in it. When you boot your Mac in Safe Mode i.e. by pressing and holding Shift key during Startup, It performs an auto consistency checkup of all system files via “fsck_hfs” tool and most probably resolves the issues arising in any such system file.


Single User Mode with fsck

To run your Mac is Single-user mode, which is a command-line utility, you need to press and hold “Command” and “S” keys during Startup. Mostly, people try this mode to run a command “fsck -fy”; however, they can directly run fsck tool that launches “fsck_hfs” tool on a HFS or HFS+ Mac volumes.

Choosing an efficient way to get rid of worries is smartness while in case, when you are running Mac OS X, the difference between these three tools seems “nothing”. If we peek inside the mechanism these three utilities follow, we do not see any difference, as method of checking a HFS disk is same. However, the only difference you can find is while using Disk Utility or Single-user mode, you can perform disk checking and repairing multiple times to get the fair result. Alternatively, if you go for Safe Mode, you can perform the same only once i.e. while the machine boots.

People may get confuse thinking what is the need of these fsck variants is. The reason is that the primary fsck command works on common Linux and Unix file systems. Therefore, other operating systems with additional file systems use fsck-like tools and commands i.e. fsck_hfs, fsck_msdos (for Windows FAT file system) etc., which prevent modifying the current fsck program.

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