Here are some of the tools and methods I employ on my and my client systems in order to protect them and to fix them when they are having problems:

  • Anti-Virus. Yes, it’s true that Macs are less susceptible than PCs when it comes to viruses, but that doesn’t mean impervious and that also doesn’t mean your computer can’t pass on a virus. So use some kind of anti-virus software that allows you to download periodic updates. The ones that come to mind are Intego Virus Barrier, Norton Anti-Virus, Sophos Anti-Virus, or ClamAV. I have only used the first two in any real capacity and strongly recommend Intego’s product because it’s fast, unobtrusive and automatic.
  • Disk Repair & Maintenance. MicroMat TechToolPro, ProSoft Engineering Drive Genius, AlSoft Disk Warrior and Norton Systemworks are most often mentioned in tekno geek circles. Systemworks is no longer supported by Symantec, although at one time, it was my first choice. I now avoid using it except for machines that are older or on older operating systems. TechTool has pretty much taken Systemworks’ place for general repair and maintenance. But a smart enduser would have alternatives in case one application fails to work. Drive Genius would be an alternative to TechTool and Disk Warrior for repair and optimization of the hard drive’s catalog file, the file that keeps track of all your files on the hard drive.
  • Methodology. The best overall strategy is to run your utilities from another location other than your problem drive. That way, the program can either repair the drive or pull the files off that you want to recover. Never, ever write to a drive that you are having problems getting to boot or reading files from. You could just finish off the drive and lose valuable data. If you have a big hard drive with a lot of space, breaking it into partitions is one way to allow your utilities to run from another location (even though it’s on the same drive). An external hard drive is even better, since you can have a backup OS on there in the event of drive failure, and have enough room to copy files onto. A CD with an OS on it, like Apple’s System Software CD or DVD and the Apple Hardware Test (AHT) would be great and many of the above mentioned programs come on a bootable CD. MicroMat just released a sweet new gizmo called the Protege that packs an OS and repair utility all on a firewire keychain drive. Sweet. But in the last two instances, you would still need some additional method of storage to recover files onto.

So what are your strategies? What software do you rely on? Comment here and let others know your successes and failures.

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