Maint for Leopard? (making sure I've got this right...)

So Leopard defrags on the fly - so I’ve read. :open_mouth: You mean I don’t ever have to run dfrag or like utility? 8) Much happiness!

I also scanned the board for other maint issues. While some were a bit old and might pertain to older OS versions, I gather that I really don’t have to do anything - or should I run the Disk util for permission repair every now and then? 8) 8)

It doesn’t really appear that I need any free or shareware or purchased util (why suck up resources, right/wrong?) I’m not into collecting software I don’t really need.

Breathes huge sigh of relief here. I’m so used to scheduling every night virus def & spyware def updates, MS updates, defrag, disk clean, etc on the PCs.

I back up with Time Machine every few days or so, and copy the really important stuff to a flash drive that every once in awhile (for off-site). That’s it.

I’m not clear on this, though - does leopard require that I keep it on overnight to run maint? Or does it not matter with this OS? Seems a big energy waste if it does.

Edited to add: No spyware, no Antivirus, no maintenance. Are you kidding? I think I know why people get so attached to their Macs. I’m officially a convert (and I’m MS certified).

I do certain things though - never download things I’m not sure of, never open emails from people I don’t know, have the display remote turned off in email, upped the firewall settings, and don’t log on as the admin, avoid dodgy sites, never click on links in emails. All standard stuff regardless of what OS you use. I also clear the cache manually when I think about it. I’ve turned off broadcasting on the router, and guests use a separate login than mine (w/tracking, of course), fairly strong passwords too. I guess some things are just hard-wired into PC people. LOL!

Dynamic de-frag has been a part of the system for ages. It works by analysing the file when you load it, I believe. The system will check its fragmentation status and redistribute it as necessary. So files you never touch will not be de-fragged, but this is rarely a problem. One limitation with the system is that it is limited in file size. If I remember right, the cut-off point is 20 megabytes. Any files larger than that will be ignored. Again, for the most part this is not a problem unless you do a lot of multimedia work. Then it is advisable to use a separate disk for large file activity so it can be de-fragged independently of the operating system disk.

There is some debate over whether or not you should de-frag the operating system disk at all, ever. Most tools will report that the disk is highly fragmented (the operating system essentially installs in a “fragmented” state), when in fact it is just fine. Some say that de-fragging can actually slow things down. Whatever the case, I have never once de-fragged an OSX operating system disk since I started using it with version zero.

In my opinion, there is no need to purchase any software unless you have problems. Again, I’ve been using the system since it came out, and there have only been a handful of times that I have had to use a recovery tool (Disk Warrior) to fix a corrupted file system. The last time that happened was probably in 2003. OSX is remarkably stable, even under very heavy usage.

I run Disk Utility every month or so these days. I also recommend installing the free tool Onyx. Not only will it give you some diagnostic tools, it will unlock “hidden” features that you might find useful. For example, reducing the visual intensity of the dock without having to move it to the sides, or forcing Mail to read the plain text version instead of the HTML version.

AppleJack is a utility that is good to have installed if you ever need it. It runs via the command line and has saved me at least once from having to do a re-install.

As of Tiger (and Leopard, naturally) there is no need to leave the machine running at night for the system’s automatic maintenance procedures to run. It uses a newer system that is not strictly time triggered. If it detects it has not run when it was scheduled to, it will run the routines at the next available time. Occasionally this will slow you down a bit, but not too bad. Spotlight indexing seems to be the slowest function.

I am in the camp that agrees with what you came to discover: For the most part, you can just use the computer without worrying about it. Don’t even worry about installing and uninstalling applications. There is no registry to worry about. Yes, applications will litter the preferences areas with settings files, but by and large these are tiny and do not impact system performance. If you are anal retentive, you can use an application like Hazel, AppZapper, or even Onyx I think now, to scan for preferences which are no longer being used. Hazel sits in the background constantly checking your trash. Whenever an application hits the trash, it checks for associated files and asks you if you wish to remove them. Other applications require a slightly more proactive approach.

So Disk Utility to scan your drives for errors periodically. Onyx to clear your caches if you have weird problems (corrupted font caches seem to cause the majority of these “weird” issues. If you see applications loading without labels, or incredibly slow Finder response, that’s the first thing to do with Onyx; second most common problem is a corrupted Spotlight index, again Onyx will help you with that). Fix permissions if you have weird problems. That’s about it for regular maintenance and mild troubleshooting. Chances are, you will come across a more sticky situation eventually. Disk Warrior will probably become your saviour at some point. Things do happen, it is a complex system. But it is by far less stress and hassle than Windows.

My experience is the same as Amber’s (I use Yasu rather than Onyx, but they’re essentially the same). I didn’t migrate to Macs from a different OS, and came to OSX pretty much as soon as it was released, from the old “classic” Mac system. The funny thing is that old-timers regard 10.0-10.1 as buggy efforts that had many problems, and by Mac standards that’s true, but they were still far superior to Windows at the time, and OSX is now simply streets ahead - as you’re discovering :slight_smile:

The general precautions you take (not clicking dodgy links, not downloading files/apps from unknown sources, etc.) are good practices on any platform, and they alone will prevent 99% of potential problems. The only thing I’d advise based on what you say is to use Time Machine more often - let it run as it’s meant to, rather than just “every few days or so”, for real peace of mind. It’s already saved my ass a couple of times from the old “whoops, I shouldn’t have deleted that file” problem.

Welcome to the world of big productivity systems…

Defrags and viri are pretty much isolated to M$ systems these days. Unix systems (on which OSX is based [it is actually a BSD derivative but who really cares}) are designed to maximize up time and minimize maintenance. As a systems guy (read my last couple of posts in the manuscript printing thread) OSX is probably the best example of how this philosophy can be driven to the desktop.

OSX shows that you do not have to compromise end user usability and freedom in the name of security.

Further on TimeMachine, I completely second Antony’s suggestion. External drives (or if you are using a Mac Pro, internal drives) are very cheap, and with the exception of laptops in coffee shops and on airplanes, there is no reason to not have it plugged in and constantly “saving your ass.” I like to think of TimeMachine as primarily a user error corrector. It is a backup, yes, and definitely more of a backup than most people had prior to Leopard, but it does not replace an offsite backup of your important data. Natural disasters, burglaries, and so forth will most likely mess up both your computer and your TimeMachine disk at once. So think of it more as a system level undo. The default timing for backups are all optimised precisely for this purpose. You’ll have hourly backups for your current work session, and then a gently increasing scale of periodical saved states going back years if you have enough hard drive space. I still have snapshots from October of last year, as well as snapshots of 45 minutes ago all on one disk—immediately available. Once the disk runs out of space, it will start overwriting ancient snapshots. It’s all very low maintenance and “out of mind”. Again, the cost of drives and the act of using it (which is essentially zero effort) have an extremely high ratio of effort to usefulness.

If you have decided to go with the “every other day” usage pattern based on the first few hours of having it turned on, don’t. Yes, your computer ran hideously slow as it mirrored the gigabytes of data. But after that point you will rarely notice any slowness. Since backups are done on the hour, and only of files that have changed, most often TimeMachine will take all of 10-20 seconds and then go back to standby mode for another hour. This is especially true for “knowledge workers” and writers, as our working files tend to be extremely small. Media professionals will have much longer TimeMachine working periods.

Oh, one other thing about TimeMachine that for some reason is not very highly marketed: You can actually do a full re-install of your system from a TimeMachine snapshot. Consider a worst case scenario where your system gets completely corrupted. Save for the hour or two that it takes to re-install, you might only be out a few hours of unsaved work. That is an incredible level of data security for someone that doesn’t have a full IT team at their disposal.

Yes, I should back up more frequently - I’ve already had to use Time Machine once. The only reason I don’t is that I’m writing from the dining room table and the Western Digital My Book doesn’t reach very well - the cord doesn’t really reach without sitting it on the floor. I should at least back up nightly before I shut down, though.

I did read that I can restore the entire OS, and in a way I’m tempted since I didn’t set the machine up exactly the way I should have. But, I didn’t know a thing about Macs then. I used the login/acct we use for our PC network and now my desktop’s name isn’t me and there’s no safe way of changing it shy of a rebuild. Since I’ve never done that before, I’m reluctant. Especially since I think I might be only 2 wks out from finishing the 1st draft of my current novel. I don’t really have anyone to get me over a hump if something goes wrong, and I’m not sure if I re-installed and changed my acct if the Mac will allow me to put things from one desktop into another acct without fits. So, I’ll wait until I’m completely finished with the book.

Definitely, yes. That should be your baseline, I think.

Regarding a reinstall, you don’t necessarily need to do that. You can just create a new user account, in addition to the admin account, and use that as your main working profile. If you’re new to the Mac, then I’m guessing everything you’ve installed went straight into the main Applications folder, which in turn means those apps are available to all users, so you don’t need to worry about that.

The only thing you’ll need to do is move your “stuff” from the old admin account’s user folders into the new user’s folder (basically, look in your user folder, i.e. where your Documents, Movies, etc. folders are. Any folder in there that has an icon contains user-specific data that you’ll need to move across.)

Whatever you decide to do, running a full Time Machine backup first is a must. And I agree, wait until you’ve finished the book before you do anything like this, especially if it’s only going to be a few weeks. Running in admin, while not necessarily recommended, isn’t the danger! danger! situation in OSX that it can be in Windows :slight_smile:

(And finally, if you do decide to go down either of these routes, feel free to come here and ask for advice/how-tos before you start :slight_smile: )

Coming to OSX from Slackware Linux (which is insanely locked down) and later Ubuntu Linux (which uses the sudo no root account combo), I’ve wondered the benefits of having a separate admin account given that you need to type your password to do any major damage (or can this be disabled?) Just curious if anyone wants to elaborate a bit.


I have separate user and admin accounts … I know it’s not strictly necessary but in my way I’m a belt and braces man — though not literally … I hate braces (suspenders for you lot across the pond!) — and I’ve found it has stopped me doing silly things from time to time, 'cos I have had to think about what I was doing when it asked me for the admin name as well as the password. That’s all …


This is one of the reasons why I love this board so much – some of the friendliest fellow writers anyone could hope to meet. The company around here is hard to beat.

As far as the admin/standard user acct goes - for me, it’s just a hard habit to break I suppose. I think it’s why I’ve never had a single virus. I have to laugh when I see the Mac/PC commercials where PC has an entourage of people to ensure he doesn’t get infected with viruses and spyware. I see at least five infected/hijacked machines at work nearly every month. It’s probably why I’m pretty anal about my home PC network. I can honestly say that when the time comes to replace a seriously aging Dell desktop we’ve got, it’ll be with an iMac. PCs are just high maintenance all the way around. While I’m forced to learn Vista for work, I don’t have a clue as to why PC users want to subject themselves to relearn how to use their computers every time Bill and Company change their OS or apps. And it seems like MS makes it difficult so that you’ll spend a fortune on approved training, books, etc.

I suppose I’ll always have one PC around, but the Mac makes my life much easier.

Give us time. You will be looking for a Louisville Slugger in no time.


Erm, if he’s going to be looking for this Louisville Slugger in no time, why is there a need for him to give you time? :question: :unamused:

He gives it to us to use as he doesn’t need it.

Don’t try to figure it out, it is +3 logic. We operate in vic-k’s dementia (note this is different from a dimension) and things here are not as they seem to seem to be. Kind of like quadrupled triple negatives.

See? Makes sense. Kind of.

Os X is quite friendly and easily maintained.

The BEST thing is of course to have a backup of any file you deem important. :slight_smile:

External Drives as mentioned are cheap and easy. Time machine makes it quite simple.

I tend to also make a small backup of my SCR file on a thumb drive (Flash Drive) that I carry on my person along with my Wallet and Keys. That way if something dreadful happened while I was away like a Hurricane, Tornado, or House Fire cause by the Still then at least My thumb drive has my essential files.

THis is sometimes referred to as an “offsite backup”. Some people instead of using a Thumb drive use something on the internet like iDisk or FTP storage, etc.

Just a safety precaution because you just never truly know and if your only backup is attached to your computer and your house is on fire well the back I’m afraid will be no good. :slight_smile:

As to Viruses. There are no known OS X Viruses in the WILD but there are a few in labs. If you use a PC partition though like Bootcamp and you actually run XP or VIsta then that part of your HD (Partitioned part) can become infected with a virus. Will it decimate your Mac files? No. Can you send a PC Virus from a Mac? Yes but who cares? :smiling_imp:

The important utilities a Mac user should AWLAYS have within arms reach is one or more of the following.

(Preferably alcohol based to induce mind numbing creativity or caffeine based to twig out the user and make them type 9000 words a minute)

(Those who don’t smoke usually substitute this by chewing on a pencil or pen)

(This helps avoid unwanted distractions and can prevent damage to the MAC itself from flying objects hurled in anger or frustration)

(Some use music, TV, Silence, or the sounds of Mud Wrestling to achieve the perfect nirvana)

(Batteries can last only so long)

Advanced Users will also keep a Phillips Screwdriver and 1 Paperclip (unbent) nearby for emergency procedures if necessary.

You left off

This is required to procrastinate as optimally as possible.

Oh true, so very true!