Our utilities update report is a list of updates for Mac utilities that have been released in the past week. Though a utility can be any tool that helps you perform a routine task (including image manipulation and synchronization), our focus in this column is to bring you those tools that help in troubleshooting Mac hardware and software problems.
Having at least one cache cleaning utility on your system is always recommended, for running general maintenance or other cleaning routines. Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner ($9.99) is one of the tried-and-true utilities for removing temporary and cache files on the system. It has recently been updated to version 5.0.11 this past week.
Another popular maintenance utility is "Maintenance," which is from the developers of OnyX. This utility includes the common cleaning routines from OnyX, for quick and easy access. It has been updated as part of an ongoing effort to optimize both it and OnyX as well as include options to run from nonadministrative accounts. Both it and OnyX are free applications.
File Management and Recovery
In file-management utilities, some people may find HDCleanUp to be a useful compilation of cleaning routines. The program can help you perform a variety of tasks including removing orphaned preference files, temporary files, locate duplicate files, uninstall applications, slim down universal applications, locate large files, and apply HFS+ compression to files. The program's latest version fixes a number of small bugs and fixes an issue where file lists were not updated if files were removed in the Finder. HDCleanUp costs $10.00 for a license.
Another duplicate-file management utility "dupeGuru" has been updated with a slightly enhanced user interface and now has options to create hard links for duplicate files instead of just deleting them. This will have the same file data be present in multiple locations on the drive without using aliases, thereby saving drive space.
Lastly, there are a couple of new file management and recovery packages available. Stellar Information Systems has released Stellar Drive Tool Box for OS X, allowing you to optimize drive performance, protect data, repair volume corruption, and scan for bad blocks. It also includes options to remove unnecessary and duplicate files from your system. Stellar Drive Tool Box is $99.00 for a license.
The second new release is a media recovery utility called "Photo Recovery" from Wondershare Software. This package is built to help recover photo, video, and music files from a variety of media including iPods, cameras, USB drives, and other media storage devices. The software is $29.95 for a license.
A couple of drivers from Paragon NTFS have been released. ExtFX ($39.95) and NTFS 8.0 ($19.95) for OS X allow you to better interact with the Ext and NTFS filesystems than when using the basic support for these filesystems that is included in OS X. After installing these drivers you should have full read and write access to these filesystems.
Lastly, Avast Antivirus was updated to version 3.11, bringing features like smart virus updates and a new antivirus engine to the program. It includes more scheduling and path exception options to fine-tune the antivirus run. While viruses have not been much of a threat to OS X, there have been some proof-of-concept malware releases that have bothered people here and there, so it is advisable to have some way to scan for and remove unwanted software.
Finally, the networking utility WhatRoute has been updated to version 1.10.0, incorporating more Google Earth options and fixing a couple of memory leaks. It also adds a new update check option to periodically check for updates (though we will still include information on new releses in these utility updates). WhatRoute is a free utility.