Macworld - Micromat's TechTool Pro 5.0.4 is the latest version of the company's venerable troubleshooting and data recovery toolkit. TechTool Pro packs a ton of tests and tools into one easy-to-use package. This version features a pleasant new interface, a number of new tests, and an automatic monitoring system.
On the testing side, TechTool Pro will check your machine's memory, scan disks for bad blocks, run S.M.A.R.T. tests on your disks, check disks for directory corruption, check integrity and structure for many file types, and even test the RAM on your video card.
On the tool side of the program, you can create a special recovery partition that Micromat calls an eDrive. The eDrive lets you reboot your machine--if your boot drive has died, or if you just want to do some work on it--to a special startup partition equipped with TechTool Pro 5 and a few system utilities. You can use this booted system to try to repair the broken boot disk. You can also rebuild a disk's directory, defragment files, and consolidate free space on disks, securely erase files or free space, calibrate audio and video, repair permissions, and recover accidentally deleted files or those located on a damaged disk. You can run all of the specified tests and tools at any time, even when not booted from the eDrive--you just can't make repairs to your boot drive unless you boot from the eDrive (or a different drive) first, so it's not active and can be unmounted.
TechTool Pro's test suite covers pretty much everything you'd ever want to test on your Mac. An all-encompassing Check Computer test runs the full suite of tests, though you can disable individual portions of the suite quite easily--each task appears as a separate icon in the interface, with its own "x" button to cancel that task. Running the full suite of tests can be very time consuming, especially on systems with lots of files and folders; the surface scan and file structure tests in particular are lengthy. It's best to run such tests overnight, when you can leave the computer alone for a number of hours.
You can also access each test individually from the Tests screen, to run it on an as-needed basis. One test I was particularly impressed with was the S.M.A.R.T. test. Instead of simply reporting pass or fail, as do many other tools, TechTool Pro displays a chart showing 18 separate tests, with an indicator for each test showing the results along the pass/fail scale. One of my drives, for instance, passes its S.M.A.R.T tests but shows a nearly failing score for temperature changes--perhaps a sign of impending failure, or perhaps just an oddity with that drive. Either way, I know that I need to make sure my backups for that drive are up-to-date, as it may be on the verge of failure. With a simple pass/fail for the entire drive, I wouldn't have been aware of this potential problem.
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