Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

Essential Macintosh OS X Maintenance

I know, you love your Mac. It’s reliable, easy to use, and the interface makes your job easier than using a PC. You’ve never had to deal with a virus or malware and for the most part it’s been maintenance free.
Well for the most part anyway. There will be times when you need to perform some maintenance on your Mac to get it back to its old peppy non-crazy self. You may start to see a lot of unexpected quits on your programs. You may see freezes and unresponsive programs as well.
No operating system is perfect and if you run a computer long enough something will get corrupted. OS X has Unix running behind the pretty interface. Unix loves file permissions and is bound and determined to not violate them. So if any program has a part of it with bad file permissions, chances are, it won’t run right. How do these files get bad permissions? I’m not sure. Maybe the operating system had a bad day, or bad current. Other things that can go wrong include bad caches, corrupt files and lack of running the maintenance scripts in Unix.
A word about the maintenance scripts: Unix systems run maintenance scripts to clean up system logs and temporary files. Since most Unix computers were servers and ran 24/7, it made sense to run these scripts in the wee hours when users would not be on. Usually between 03:15 and 05:30AM local time. Since most of us shut off our Macs and go home (or to bed) long before those times, these scripts never get run. There are free utilities that will run these scripts any time you desire. They include MacJanitor and Onyx. They are both free and do a good job.
Speaking of Onyx, there are a lot of things this utility does to keep your Mac running well. In addition to running the maintenance scripts, it also repairs file permissions, rebuilds some indexes and caches, and deletes certain caches, temporary items and logs. There are many other things but the main window you will want to deal with is in the Automation tab. It allows you to do many of the maintenance items all at once without constantly clicking buttons. Run it at least once a month and you should be golden. Onyx has a version for different versions of OS X. So whether you’re running Panther, Tiger or Leopard, make sure you download the right version. Onyx can be found at: http://www.titanium.free.fr/index_us.html



MacJanitor is a utility that runs the 3 Unix maintenance scripts any time you want to. If you are using Onyx this program would just be redundant. MacJanitor can be found at: http://personalpages.tds.net/~brian_hill/macjanitor.html
You can also repair permissions using Apple’s built in DiskUtility. It is found in the Utilities folder in the Applications folder.
Now on the subjects of viruses and malware, Mac owners haven’t had to worry too much about these nasty things. More and more as Macs have come into vogue we are starting to hear about Mac viruses popping up. I have run for years without an anti-virus program with no problems. Now as many friends and clients have PCs, I want to make sure that I don’t wind up sending them a virus. There is an inexpensive (as in free) Mac anti-virus program. It is called ClamXav. Very straightforward and easy to use, it is based on ClamAv open source anti-virus engine. ClamXav can be found at: http://www.clamxav.com/
One other utility I would like to mention. Its called MacScan. It's not free but it's inexpensive and increasingly important. It deals with Mac malware and evil tracking cookies. It will keep you out of trouble as more and more people are targeting Macs with spyware and malware. MacScan can be found at: http://macscan.securemac.com/.
Well that about wraps up this tip. I just want to say that there are lots of other utilities out there that I don’t know about. If you know of one, drop me a line and let me hear your opinion.

Herb Fogler

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