ex­plai ned… The tools you’ll use

Mac Format - - APPLE SKILLS - Howard Oak­ley

mon­i­tor­ing for in­ter­nal and Thun­der­bolt drives; USB or FireWire drives can only be mon­i­tored by in­stalling third-party ex­ten­sions. Disk Util­ity pro­vides only ba­sic mon­i­tor­ing, and more thor­ough check­ing re­quires a third-party tool such as DriveDx (£17.68, bi­na­ryfruit.com). Good sta­tus is no guar­an­tee a disk won’t fail in the next in­stant, just a state­ment that the chances are very low.

Mod­ern stor­age types

SSDs have no mov­ing parts, but their mem­ory chips can be writ­ten to a set num­ber of times be­fore they start to fail. In prac­tice, that limit is be­yond the life of most peo­ple’s Macs. How­ever, it’s wise to avoid ac­tions that write more to an SSD than is strictly needed, and de­frag­ment­ing one is point­less and waste­ful.

En­sure the TRIM fea­ture is ac­tive; it al­lows the blocks used by deleted data to be re­set to a fresh state, and im­proves per­for­mance. It’s en­abled for Ap­ple’s flash stor­age by de­fault; for other SSDs, the maker should dis­close whether it’s han­dled in hard­ware; if not, the com­mand sudo trim­force en­able (in OS X 10.10.4 or higher) en­ables OS X’s soft­ware im­ple­men­ta­tion for third-party flash stor­age.

Fu­sion Drives, fit­ted by Ap­ple in iMacs and Mac mi­nis, or made your­self (see MF296, p64) need care for the hard disk com­po­nent, but OS X should keep them work­ing ef­fi­ciently. Many third-party apps do not yet work fully with them, so dis­as­ter re­cov­ery can be tricky.

Net­worked stor­age nor­mally uses one or more hard disks but must be man­aged through its own soft­ware, which of­ten has very lim­ited main­te­nance fa­cil­i­ties. Ap­ple’s Time Cap­sules are man­aged us­ing Air­Port Util­ity, which lacks man­ual check and re­pair com­mands. So, you can do lit­tle to care for them, and fail­ure is usu­ally fa­tal.

End of life

Stor­age has a life cy­cle which must be planned for from the out­set. Care­ful choice rather than im­pulse buy­ing will meet your needs bet­ter. Now that OS X sup­ports huge vol­ume sizes, there are few ben­e­fits to par­ti­tion­ing large drives into sev­eral smaller vol­umes, al­though Time Ma­chine back­ups are best given their own vol­ume to guar­an­tee their size and life.

When drives fail or are re­placed, en­sure no one else can re­cover data from them: use Disk Util­ity to erase and over­write them mulit­ply if you can spare the time. It’s gen­er­ally thought that the more cy­cles you can man­age, the less likely it is any­one will be able to re­cover data. Fi­nally, use a sledge­ham­mer to ren­der a drive phys­i­cally un­us­able be­fore dis­pos­ing of it.

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