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#32227 - 12/20/14 10:07 AM Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought
joemikeb Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
NOTE: It is almost guaranteed Murphy's Law will bite me after I post this. tongue

Ira L's post and recent email correspondence with a friend got me to thinking about volume repair utilities. Other than acting as a beta tester for one of the developers, I have not actually needed a volume repair utility on any of the seven hard drives around here or on any of the many Macs I support for friends and family in a long time. Neither do I recall anyone on this or other forums in real need of one of these utilities. I don't count those who run volume repair prophylactically as I used to, I am thinking of cases of actual volume damage that Disk Utility cannot handle. There have been a couple of failures but those were drive hardware failures and not repairable by any software. (I do use Micromat's Checkmate to continually monitor the health of my drives, both HDD and SSD components, and hopefully provide advance warning of impending drive failure but that is it.) I have attributed this greatly increased stability to improvements in OS X's volume management but that is purely supposition on my part.

Additionally, since I got a Mac mini with a Fusion drive (I am busily upgrading my older Mac minis to Fusion drives as well — I really like the cost/performance ratio of the Fusion drive) I do not run any defragmentation or optimization because…
Originally Posted By: Prosoft Engineering
Fusion Drives cannot be defragmented as it is a software RAID.
and
Originally Posted By: Micromat
Also, optimization is not needed with Fusion drives. Optimizing Fusion drive data works against the data organization performed by the Fusion drive, and can shorten the life of the Solid State Drive component.

I have, on occasion run the various memory and system tests in DG and TTP and they can be useful, but the main benefit I get from these is TTP reports all of the S.M.A.R.T. values and not just the summary reported by DU, DG, and various other utilities.

Out of old habits more than anything else, I do have the latest versions of Drive Genius and TechTool Pro but my experience is making it really difficult to justify the cost of upgrading those utilities. So what say the denizens of FineTunedMac? Is it worth keeping Diskwarrior, Drive Genius, or TechTool Pro up to date or is it feasible to rely on Disk Utility and Time Machine?
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#32229 - 12/20/14 11:34 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
It's funny that you should start this topic now, as I'm just in the process of remapping bad blocks on a HD in an MBP. Checkmate didn't report anything wrong with it ('SMART media status verified', so much for that), but Drive Genius' Drive Pulse mode warned about 5 bad blocks. TTP's 'Surface Scan' tool I ran to verify this also detected a cluster of 5 bad blocks, plus another somewhere else on the disk. I'll look into exactly which checklist Checkmate and Drive Pulse each are running, and I may disable Checkmate should Drive Pulse duplicate its repertoire. That said, having them both active doesn't seem to be much of an imposition in terms of being noticeable to the user, so there may not be compelling reason to 'economize' this way.

Beyond that, I also keep an array of drive utilities around, despite having had relatively little reason to use them over the last decade based on the absence of acute disasters. Still, Disk Warrior's directory rebuild & replacement seems a prudent thing to do periodically, especially if a directory is fragmented beyond a certain degree. Likewise, various other checking/verification tools came in handy at one time or another, even if just running them without repairing anything did away with the odd error message that prompted them.

FWIW, I just ordered the DW5 flash drive, and also have current copies of TechTool Pro, Checkmate, Drive Genius/Drive Pulse, and Disk Drill Pro. With the exception of Disk Warrior, most of these utilities were purchased at a feisty discount as part of software bundles. Otherwise I might not have had one or the other. But as things stand now, I definitely intend to keep DW and either TTP or DG.
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#32231 - 12/20/14 12:29 PM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
ryck Offline


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Okanagan Valley
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
I have not actually needed a volume repair utility on any of the seven hard drives around here or on any of the many Macs I support for friends and family in a long time. Neither do I recall anyone on this or other forums in real need of one of these utilities.

It's been a few years since I used Disk Warrior to get my daughter out of a major jam, and I only recall once...even earlier....when I needed to get myself out of that kind of problem.

Originally Posted By: joemikeb
I don't count those who run volume repair prophylactically as I used to...

That would be me. I will periodically use DW to rebuild the directory but I don't have any set time-frame in which it's done. It's more along the lines of Alternaut's approach, "....seems a prudent thing to do periodically."

Originally Posted By: joemikeb
[b]I do not run any defragmentation or optimization because…

Neither do I but for a different reason. I once read that it is less necessary with drives being much larger and, as I am never even close to filling a drive, I don't bother.

Originally Posted By: alternaut
With the exception of Disk Warrior, most of these utilities were purchased at a feisty discount as part of software bundles. Otherwise I might not have had one or the other. But as things stand now, I definitely intend to keep DW and either TTP or DG.

Same here. Paid full price a long time ago for DW and keep it up to date. Got TTP in a bundle and keep it up to date.


Edited by ryck (12/20/14 12:30 PM)
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#32233 - 12/20/14 01:55 PM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: alternaut]
joemikeb Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: alternaut
It's funny that you should start this topic now, as I'm just in the process of remapping bad blocks on a HD in an MBP. Checkmate didn't report anything wrong with it ('SMART media status verified', so much for that)

Google Labs long ago debunked any efficacy of S.M.A.R.T. in their test of hard drive failures and I have had two drives fail that passed SMART. I am surprised however that Checkmate's surface scan did not catch the bad data blocks. I was under the assumption they used the same tests there as in TechTool Pro. It would be interesting to hear Micromat's comment on why TTP found six bad data blocks that Checkmate missed. Have I been living in a fool's paradise?

By-the-way I did come across this 2014 article from Backblaze on their experience with different brand drive failures. At least this gives me evidence to support my prejudice for HGST drives.


Edited by joemikeb (12/20/14 02:03 PM)
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#32234 - 12/20/14 02:48 PM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> At least this gives me evidence to support my prejudice for HGST drives.

Western Digital acquired Hitachi in early 2012, so I wonder whether the potential effects of the new ownership are fully rolled into the Backblaze statistics at this point.

I've been happy with Hitachi drives, but the jury is still out on HGST's products. (The last drive I bought, an HGST, was not made in Thailand as were all my Hitachis.)
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#32237 - 12/21/14 01:39 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
So what say the denizens of FineTunedMac? Is it worth keeping Diskwarrior, Drive Genius, or TechTool Pro up to date or is it feasible to rely on Disk Utility and Time Machine?

I'm spitting in the eye of paid upgrades of DiskWarrior (v 4->5) and TechTool Pro (v 6->7), because it seems to me that OS X has advanced past the point of its users needing to maintain arsenals of repair and recovery tools.

How many instances of any of them being recommended in troubleshooting threads do you recall seeing in FTM's 5 years, and, in fact, how often have you needed to run any of them in recent years other than for surface scans?

I purchased DiskWarrior ($100) because I needed it (back in the years of the Panther), and I paid for the v 3->4 upgrade ($50) because DW was "still relevant" at the time.

I own TechTool Pro only because I was able to purchase it for $20 as an upgrade from TT Deluxe ($30, actually, because I still have an unholy...probably unwarranted attachment to hard media and paid for a CD), but I've never even installed an eDrive.

And looking ahead, I'm not paying for any more upgrades until I actually need them, and if I've got to endure some down-time waiting for them to get to me...no big deal.

As long as I can run surface scans easily, I'm happy.

Murphy be damned!!! laugh
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#32240 - 12/21/14 05:02 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: artie505
>I've been happy with Hitachi drives, but the jury is still out on HGST's products. (The last drive I bought, an HGST, was not made in Thailand as were all my Hitachis.)
Hitachi is now marketed under the brand name HGST. They are one in the same.
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#32242 - 12/21/14 05:30 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
jchuzi Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: New York State
I, too, have been happy with Hitachi drives. I had two in my G4 DP 450 and there are four in my Mac Pro. None have given me any problems.
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#32244 - 12/21/14 09:44 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Originally Posted By: joemikeb
Originally Posted By: artie505
>I've been happy with Hitachi drives, but the jury is still out on HGST's products. (The last drive I bought, an HGST, was not made in Thailand as were all my Hitachis.)
Hitachi is now marketed under the brand name HGST. They are one in the same.

I differentiated between the two because Hitachi drives were made by Hitachi and HGST drives are made by Western Digital.

I hope they're 100% one and the same, but it's altogether possible that it's in name only, not quality.
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#32251 - 12/21/14 12:41 PM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: artie505]
joemikeb Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
The Backblaze article I referenced previously is from late 2104 and the failure rates for HGST (nee Hitachi), Western Digital, and Seagate are virtually unchanged from early 2014 and HGST's failure rate in both samples is a small fraction of Seagate's much less Western Digital's.
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#32255 - 12/21/14 05:57 PM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
I used to use drive repair utilities (I preferred DiskWarrior and updated it religiously), but I have not used anything save Apple's Disk Utility in quite some time.

What I do now is expect and anticipate drive failures by being quite meticulous about keeping backups. I have two external hard drives that I back my laptop up to regularly, and I keep the laptop mirrored to the desktop (they're both similar vintage machines so I can dump the hard drive of one straight onto the hard drive of the other with no difficulty).

If I experience a hard drive failure, I can reformat the drive if it's a soft failure or toss it and replace it if it's a hardware failure, and I've found that is a lot less time-consuming than not keeping backups and depending on disk repair utilities to recover data when things go pear-shaped. smile
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#32256 - 12/21/14 06:44 PM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
I saw all that, but (and not to denigrate anybody's products) the fact remains that it's still way too soon to tell.

I assume (and based on their stats, it's probably a fair assumption) that almost all of Backblaze's "Hitachis" are still just that...Hitachis (not HGSTs) so at this point, it's still pretty much their failure rate that's being documented.

Their stats will become more meaningful as respects HGSTs as old drives are replaced with new ones and the Hitachi/HGST balance changes .

It will be "x" years before their stats can be considered definitive as respects HGST drives, and during that period, consumer reports will probably be a better indicator.
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#32263 - 12/22/14 08:39 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
Ira L Offline


Registered: 08/13/09
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: joemikeb

Originally Posted By: Micromat
Also, optimization is not needed with Fusion drives. Optimizing Fusion drive data works against the data organization performed by the Fusion drive, and can shorten the life of the Solid State Drive component.



Is the rebuilding of the directory that is done by DiskWarrior considered "optimization" of the type warned against by the quote above?
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#32267 - 12/22/14 09:53 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: Ira L]
joemikeb Offline
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Registered: 08/04/09
Loc: Fort Worth, Texas
Originally Posted By: Ira L
Is the rebuilding of the directory that is done by DiskWarrior considered "optimization" of the type warned against by the quote above?
Optimization is a term used by Micromat for defragmenting files and volumes. Rebuilding a directory is not the same thing. However, I don't rebuild any directory on any hard drive, but most especially not on SSD or Fusion drives unless it is absolutely necessary. Two reasons why not,
  1. If it aint broke don't fix it
  2. There is a finite risk of breaking it when running any repair utility unnecessarilly


Edited by joemikeb (12/22/14 09:55 AM)
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#32269 - 12/22/14 10:53 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: joemikeb]
freelance Offline


Registered: 08/05/09
Loc: London, UK
I've been using DiskWarrior and TTP since OS 8.5 and upgrading each app as upgrades became available. I use OnyX and Carbon Copy Cloner, as well.

I run DiskWarrior weekly as a prophylactic, and CCC to make at least two backups (I have several hard drives that are too old to trust in my Mac, but are handy for backup on the shelf.)

TTP has been used less and less: my OS is on a SSD, my HHDs are too large to defragment. I have a 4Tb Hitachi external USB 2 drive that showed 50Gbs free, but would not accept a 8Gb DVD file. So, I ran TTP to degfrag the HHD. The process ran for almost four days, until TTP quit (not crashed).

The drive was left unusable. I ran DiskWarrior, but only recovered gibberish (in Oriental characters!). The only solution was to reformat the drive and restore all the data (it was a backup).

That made the remaining 50Gb available. Which is to say, I'll be unlikely to use TTP in the future.
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#32346 - 12/30/14 01:36 AM Re: Volume Repair Utilities — Food for Thought [Re: artie505]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> It will be "x" years before their stats can be considered definitive as respects HGST drives, and during that period, consumer reports will probably be a better indicator.

I just remembered that the only Apple HDD that's ever failed on me was the HGST that came with my MBP.
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