Macintosh OS X Routine Maintenance

Just curious if anyone takes issue with any of the recommendations here:

We’ve been through this before.

If you want to try any of those routines as “maintenance” then go ahead, but as far as I’m concerned it is a complete waste of time to do so. When I have a problem then I’ll repair permissions, run fsck, etc. Running them as maintenance might give you a nice fuzzy feeling that your computer is in tip-top shape, but I get that fuzzy feeling from not having to do any maintenance to it. For more details read the thread I linked to above.

Well, what I found interesting was the section under - “Update: Apparently Maintenance Myth #3, isn’t yet a myth.” And when I checked my 10.4.10 machine via console, sure enough, it was ONLY running the daily routine, NOT weekly and monthly.

The mentioned Anacron 3.1 for Tiger (OS X 10.4) took care of it.

Some people recomeend that you change your oil every 3,000 miles. What most won’t tell you is the number is actually 10,000 miles.

If you own a bicycle do you oil the chain and grease all of the axles after every ride as it is recomeended?

Do you check the tire pressure in your tires every time you get into the car as it is recomeended?

Do you go to the doctor every two weeks for a routine physical?

Do you take your temperature and blood pressure everyday?

Do you make sure the room temperature is within the recomeended range before turning on your computer?

Do you have a line conditioner hooked up to your computer to protect the power supply from spikes and brown outs or fluxes?

I ask these questions to put things in perspective. Although it may be good to very cautious at times it is not really realistic in a working environment.

Anytime you do any form of maintenance you can run the risk of data corruption. Imagine someone in the middle of a defrag and they lose power as an example.

What I would recomeend is this. If you have anything VITAL on a computer that if it were lost it would be very very BAD. I would make a back up of that file or group of files. It is not that you need to back up your whole hard drive. It is the FILES you create that cannot be replaced. Software such as OS, SCR and other APPLICATIONS can be reinstalled. Files cannot unless you have a back up.

In other words the time spent “maintaining” a computer is wasted if you don’t apply that same fortitude in making backups of your files.

Most people I ahve consulted with have over the years done the usual, DEFRAG, Permission Repairs, DIsk Repairs, Cache Cleaning, etc.

They do it routinely.

But the first time a HD fails completely the person is frantic. You ask the golden question. “DO you ahve a backup of your files”

More times than not the answer is



A backup can replace something lost. Maintenance, in the end, only delays you losing it.


PS: I repair permissions before I install a new application or updates. (Any Installation).

After the installation I check the disk to see if it needs repairing AFTER i have repaired permissions.

BEFORE I do either of those I make sure all my files that are important are copied over to an external HD.

If you back up a copy of a corrupted file, guess what you have?

That’s right, two copies of a corrupted file.

If a well-maintained hard drive suffers a mechanical failure, what do you have?

Yep, a dead hard drive. (And by the way, do you really want to reinstall 20-30 programs one at a time?)

Neither backups nor maintenance is a complete solution by itself.

Yes, I do both.


I’m with Katherine on this. Every couple of months or so I give my machines (Laptop and G5) a routine maintenance. For this I use Onyx (freeware) and TechTool although the latter doesn’t seem to play nicely with Intel stuff. YMMV.

This should ensure I have a non-corrupted drive to backup, so at the same time I do a complete backup with SuperDuper. My user folder is backed up at shorter intervals, my documents folder daily. Each backup uses a different physical drive so I’m reasonably protected in the event of drive failure. As insurance I do a timed backup of key stuff over the network every night, to the old G4 which is used purely for this purpose.

In effect all you can do is minimise the risk. When a drive goes belly up you’re going to lose something.

Oh and don’t do what a student once did. He put all the research for his final year dissertation on two pen drives - the second for insurance. He kept both in his rucksack. Whilst he was at the bar after a lecture someone lifted his rucksack…

Amen! Never keep all of your backups in the same place.

I have most of my vital info on 3 different computers and a backup CD at home, on my computer and another backup CD at the office, and also on a secure encrypted disk image on an online backup service. I even keep a small disk image of my most important stuff on a CD at my parents’ house.

So unless my house, my parents’ house, my work, and that online backup all go up in flames at once, I’ll still be able to get my stuff back.

And if that happens, it’ll probably be because of a nuclear holocaust, and I’ll have a lot more to worry about than lost data…

OS X has been getting better. There is not much need for the kind of maintenance that was routine 10 years ago. I handle forty-or-more systems and have done so for decades.

The systems are all plain-vanilla. No funny business. With the exception of software for fancy graphic arts they are identical to the systems the engineers at Apple send out to all of us. (Easier to debug, you see.) No removal of languages; no deletion of standard stuff “I don’t need”. No shifting of application locations and no renaming of standard folders. (Fonts are cleaned to within an inch of their life, however.)

I repair permissions before and after installs (but I gang up installs) and I disagree with the pundits that say it’s not necessary. It is. I’ve seen many occasions where permissions (changed as the result of installations) were the culprit.

Back-ups are vital but don’t go bonkers, just be stolid and solid. Do it daily; do it weekly. Put one of them off-site every month or so, or if you’re manic and just have text, backup to an automated internet-based backup service. Don’t assume they’ll last forever, refresh the old backups yearly—new tapes, disks, or hard drives.

Happy writing.


Hear, hear! I’m on 10.4.9 and my System is also plain vanilla (no APEs or anything like that) and after every second or third install of anything, I find (sometimes minor) permissions errors when I run the repair routine.

On my system, at least, it’s still necessary.


Pure voodoo. Get back to work and stop fiddling with “preventative” measures. When (and if) you have a problem, address it.

Do you mean address it, as in, sacrificing a chicken?

On the model of an old “Honeymooners” sketch (and that’s redundant), the proper format, according to Ed Norton’s explanation about the rules of golf – “stand firmly in position and address the bll” would be, “Hello, problem.”

Sorry, just finished a lovely dinner, and probably drank more than my share of the pinot noir.

Phil S.