kmosx3: Mac OS X 10.3/10.4: System maintenance

Last Modified: Feb 22, 2011 7:17 PM
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Mac OS X: System maintenance

Most installation and update problems seem to be caused by issues that existed already before the update and became worse, or appeared first after the update/installation. There is consensus that one should never run an upgrade on a system that already has problems.

But how can you keep a system in good shape?

There are several routine maintenance tasks that should be run regularly plus a few simple rules you should follow.

Let's start with some general rules:

1. Whenever you run an installation that uses the installer application you should Repair permissions before and after the update!
2. Whenever you have to force-shutdown or force-restart your computer you should run fsck at the
next restart. For further information on how to do that see
Using Disk Utility and fsck for file system maintenance in Mac OS X. This might not be necessary
if your hard disk is Journaled.
3. BACKUP regularly!

Now let's go on to routine maintenance tasks.

MacOS X has a set of routine tasks (CRON-scripts) that are run automatically - between 3:15am and 5:30am. Unless you leave your computer running overnight you should regularly run these manually. This is also number one on my check-list:

1. Run CRON-scripts once a week. Further information can be found here:
How to Force Background Maintenance Tasks (Logs and Temporary Items). Two very useful
applications for this purpose are Cocktail and MacJanitor. They provide a graphical user interface
for these scripts (and Cocktail offers many more options).
Macaroni lets you automate this and offers appr. the same features as Cocktail.
2. Clean user and internet caches and archived logs once a week. You can do this with utilities
like Panther Cache Cleaner, OnyX and Cocktail (all can be found at
3. Run DiskWarrior or TechTool Pro 4 once a month and repair/replace your directory. It is commercial software but
well worth the investment!
4. A very controversial topic is Disk Defragmentation.
Here is what Apple says: Mac OS X: About Disk Optimization.
I personally defragment my hard disks once every 3 months (with Drive 10 or TechTool Pro 4).
5. If your system speed drops considerably it can be useful to force-prebind your system. This might speed up application
startup and can solve some issues. You can do that with Cocktail,
but you can also use System Optimizer X or Onyx.

This To-Do-list might look complicated but actually it only needs 10 minutes a week plus another 15 minutes once a month to keep your system healthy.

More detailed information can be found here:
Published on MacDevCenter: Panther Maintenance Tips
OS X Routine Maintenance and Generic Troubleshooting
MacWorld 2/2005: Prevent Mac Disasters

Updated: Mon Feb 13, 2007 - Updated link to OnyX - Gulliver

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