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vea1083 Level 3 Level 3 (685 points)
What is OnyX? it's in the apple download page, I know it is a maintenance tool. However I have a few questions about it, it is safe to use? Can it cause system instability? (Cache out X does that), How has been your experience with it?

I'm asking this just to know if its worth installing in my Mac, because I don't want a tool that says it will increase system performance, and then when you run it, you'll end up with an under performing system giving you a lot of error logs that take hard drive space away.

Thank You.

2.53GHz Core i5 Macbook Pro 15", Mac OS X (10.6.4), 500gb HDD @ 7200rpm, 4gb 1067mhz ddr3 ram, Intel HD + Nvidia 330m 256mb
  • Király Level 6 Level 6 (9,560 points)
    Tools like OnyX, CacheOut, etc, can be useful if they are used for their intended purpose. If your Mac is having some sort of problem, they can be useful at fixing it (i.e. clearing out corrupted cache files, etc.)

    But they should not be used if on a Mac that is running well. As you say, clearing out caches unnecessarily will cause one's Mac to run slower, not faster.

    I think many people use OnyX, etc as "preventive maintenance" utilities, and run them often and when not needed, expecting them to keep their Mac "optimized". But IMO this is a mistake. Mac OS X does a very good job of keeping itself optimized. The third party "optimization" tools can be useful for fixing problems. But running them unnecessarily is a waste of time at best, and can cause problems at worst.
  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (34,590 points)
    I've been using OnyX since Panther, 10.3.x. It's an excellent utility when used for what it's for, not general maintenance.

    My main use of it is to clear all Internet related items like browser and data caches. Pressing CommandOptionE with Safari running does not clear everything, even though it says, "Are you sure you want to empty the cache?" Videos in particular tend to stay on your hard drive. You may never visit a given site again, but the Flash, .wmv and other video files that ran on that site then just sit on your hard drive forever. They can really add up.

    I also use it to set things the OS doesn't allow. Like turning off all desktop animations so windows just snap open and close. I also prefer the trash locked to the lower right corner so it can't move when you're dragging items into it. These options are part of OS X, but Apple has decided to hide a lot of them from the user. OnyX lets you get at them.

    Another very helpful tool in it is to run the Daily, Weekly and Monthly scripts, which don't normally run if you turn your Mac off for the night. These scripts can take up a ton of room on the drive after a long enough period. Even gigabytes.

    So in general, look through the options and see what would be useful to run periodically, not on a weekly basis.
  • The hatter Level 9 Level 9 (60,485 points)
    Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner was just updated and shows on MacUpdate and VT today, take a look, I like to see "What's New" and fixed, gives a good idea of the utility, testing, and result of user feedback - and comments section!
  • vea1083 Level 3 Level 3 (685 points)
    Kurt Lang wrote:
    I've been using OnyX since Panther, 10.3.x. It's an excellent utility when used for what it's for, not general maintenance.

    My main use of it is to clear all Internet related items like browser and data caches. Pressing CommandOptionE with Safari running does not clear everything, even though it says, "Are you sure you want to empty the cache?" Videos in particular tend to stay on your hard drive. You may never visit a given site again, but the Flash, .wmv and other video files that ran on that site then just sit on your hard drive forever. They can really add up.


    About internet caches, does onyx cleans them better than the "empty cache" option in safari?

    I'm asking this because I want a tool that eliminates completely flash video data from safari because I know that those flash videos take a ton of HDD space. Also, will I see a performance decrease if I run only the internet cache cleaning part of OnyX?
  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (34,590 points)
    About internet caches, does onyx cleans them better than the "empty cache" option in safari?


    Oddly, yes. Without exception, if I only run the "Empty Cache" option with Safari open, it never completely cleans things out. If I then shut down Safari and use OnyX to really clean out all Internet caches, the drive always gains other one and a half to two GB of space. So Safari clearly doesn't remove everything.

    Also, will I see a performance decrease if I run only the internet cache cleaning part of OnyX?


    Only momentarily in your web browser as it will have to re-download all graphics you see on the web sites you routinely visit, such as the gray buttons for Store, Mac, etc., at the top of this page, and any other elements needed to display the page.

    As far as clearing all cache files from the system? Yes, there is always a brief drop in performance as the OS and your frequently used apps have to "relearn" how you use your computer and cache the most commonly accessed data again. This takes a day or so and then things are back to normal.
  • Király Level 6 Level 6 (9,560 points)
    Kurt Lang wrote:
    Oddly, yes. Without exception, if I only run the "Empty Cache" option with Safari open, it never completely cleans things out. If I then shut down Safari and use OnyX to really clean out all Internet caches, the drive always gains other one and a half to two GB of space. So Safari clearly doesn't remove everything.


    The thing that really bugs me about OnyX is that it insists about being run from an admin account. So I can't use it to clear internet caches in any of my non-admin accounts. The developer has been notified about this and he doesn't see it as a problem.
  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (34,590 points)
    The thing that really bugs me about OnyX is that it insists about being run from an admin account. So I can't use it to clear internet caches in any of my non-admin accounts. The developer has been notified about this and he doesn't see it as a problem.


    Probably because you can alter the OS so significantly with it. In a setting like a school, you wouldn't want the students to have access to such a powerful utility.
  • Király Level 6 Level 6 (9,560 points)
    Simple solution; just have the program prompt you to authenticate with an admin username and password when launching, or when doing a task that requires admin rights. Every other system utility can be run from a non-admin account this way. I do admin and even root tasks all the time from my non-admin account by authenticating when prompted. It's a pity that OnyX won't allow this.
  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (34,590 points)
    Yes, there's almost always a way around things when you have direct access to the computer. Even from a non admin account. Seems the author of OnyX went out of his way to prevent that, which I think is a good thing.

    People like yourself know what all, or almost all of the functions it's capable of running do. So you're comfortable with it. A noob could really screw up their Mac with any such utility. Like making all items visible and then start deleting everything you don't recognize.
  • Király Level 6 Level 6 (9,560 points)
    Not from a non-admin account they couldn't, not without knowing the admin password. There's nothing a non-admin user can do to screw up anything outside his own user account, without the admin password.

    That's why I don't see a problem at all with allowing OnyX allowing itself to launch in a non-admin account. Non-admin users would still be prevented from doing any admin task, and they could still use the program for account maintenance like cache clearing.

    I follow Apple's security configuration guidelines and use a non-admin account for everyday use. I almost never log in to my admin account. For users like me who follow Apple's guidelines, I can't use OnyX to clear my internet caches, because it won't even launch in my user account. Every other system maintenance utility will run in a non-admin account after authenticating with the admin password.

    It's a design fault on the part of the OnyX developers, to assume that everybody runs all the time in an admin account (contrary to Apple's security guidelines) and to make its software only run in admin accounts.
  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (34,590 points)
    Not from a non-admin account they couldn't, not without knowing the admin password.


    Yes, that was an assumption on my part that the person already knew the admin password. Should have said so to avoid confusion.

    That's why I don't see a problem at all with allowing OnyX allowing itself to launch in a non-admin account. Non-admin users would still be prevented from doing any admin task, and they could still use the program for account maintenance like cache clearing.


    Hmm. I don't see how that would work. Once you enter the admin password, you'd be able to do anything OnyX had in its feature set. The author also has Maintenance and Deeper, which are pared down versions of Onyx, but those also require an admin account (or password) to run.

    It's a design fault on the part of the OnyX developers, to assume that everybody runs all the time in an admin account (contrary to Apple's security guidelines) and to make its software only run in admin accounts.


    We'll have to agree to disagree there. It's a good safety net for the less computer savvy. Like keeping your kids away from such utilities. You have the admin account, and they have standard user accounts.
  • Király Level 6 Level 6 (9,560 points)
    Kurt Lang wrote:
    Yes, that was an assumption on my part that the person already knew the admin password. Should have said so to avoid confusion.


    Well, if the person already knows the admin password, then he is an administrator. He can then promote his own account to admin and take over the whole machine.

    Hmm. I don't see how that would work. Once you enter the admin password, you'd be able to do anything OnyX had in its feature set.


    Exactly. I, as an admin user, but who uses a non-admin account for everyday use, could launch OnyX in my non-admin account, enter the admin password, and then use it. Completely secure. A non-admin user who doesn't know the admin user would still be prevented from using OnyX at all. That allows for the same level of security as exists right now, and is how all other system utilities, even ones provided by Apple, work.

    We'll have to agree to disagree there. It's a good safety net for the less computer savvy. Like keeping your kids away from such utilities.


    All I'm asking for is for OnyX to ask for admin credentials when being launched from a non-admin account. Then, if the non-admin user can't enter the admin password, then the program would simply quit. If an administrator is there to authenticate, then the administrator can launch and use it to maintain and/or repair the non-admin account. That is 100% completely as secure as the situation now.

    But the current situation is that it will simply refuse to open at all under a non-admin account, meaning that not even an administrator can use it to repair or maintain a non-admin account. That isn't any additional layer of security. It's quite the contrary; it's preventing an administrator from administering the computer.

    Right now the only workaround to get OnyX to do any maintenance on a non-admin account is to temporarily promote that account to admin. I would argue that that is a heck of a lot less secure than simply allowing an administrator to launch the app from the non-admin account without having to promote the whole account to admin.

    All admin utilities provided by Apple - Software Update, all the secure System Preferences, Disk Utility, Workgroup Manager, even sudo on the command line, all allow themselves to be run from any non admin account, by an administrator who can enter the admin password. All of this conforms to Apple's security guidelines. OnyX is broken if it doesn't follow those guidelines.

    The OnyX developer seems to assume that everyone runs all the time in an admin account, and it will only clear browser caches in admin accounts. The fact that Apple warns against even browsing the web while logged in to an admin account shows that the OnyX developer has a thing or two to learn about security configuration.
  • Kurt Lang Level 7 Level 7 (34,590 points)
    Well, if the person already knows the admin password, then he is an administrator.


    Not necessarily. Your child, a student, etc. could have found out what your admin password is and not tell you they know.

    But all other parts of this conversation aside, here's the real point:

    But the current situation is that it will simply refuse to open at all under a non-admin account, meaning that not even an administrator can use it to repair or maintain a non-admin account.


    I wasn't getting that that (missing it?) in your previous comments. Yes, that is a major hassle. As the administrator, you should be able to run anything from any account. Just as you would install software for someone else's non admin account that requires your password to proceed.
  • Király Level 6 Level 6 (9,560 points)
    Sorry if I wasn't making myself clear.
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