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Diagnostics for Macs

Posted on 2013-01-07
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Can someone recommend a solution or another tool we can use to diagnose hardware and software for Apple computers desktop and laptop?
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Question by:itneedshelp
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by:David Carr
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Any specific problem you are trying to address?
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by:itneedshelp
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Hardware tests, motherboards, Hard drive, and RAM. I need to find something to fully test this mac.
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by:strung
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Macs come with a pretty good suite of software built right in, most of which are found in the folder:

/Applications/Utilities

and it is worth exploring the contents of that folder.

There is an application called Activity Monitor which is the equivalent of Windows Task Manager.

Disk Utility diagnoses and repairs disk directory corruption as well as doing a S.M.A.R.T. test on your drive.

The Console Application access the Mac's log files, similar to Event Manager, but more comprehensive.

KeyChain Access keeps track of passwords and certificate.

The Terminal application gives you access to the Unix command line.

Network Utility allows you to analyze network traffic.

You can also get complete system information (hardware and software) by pulling down the Apple Menu and click on More Info, then System Report. The report can be saved as a text file or printed.

Finally, the Mac has complete hardware diagnostics as described here:

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1509
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by:strung
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Sounds like you need to run Verify Disk using Disk Utility to check for drive corruption. While you have Disk Utility open, check the S.M.A.R.T. status. If it reads anything but "verified", your drive is failing. Also, while you have Disk Utility open, run Repair Permissions.

Once you have done that, run the Hardware Test as per my last link.

Also make sure the hard drive has at least 15% free space. Macs don't run well with less.

Could you advise as to the particular problems you are having? We may be able to point you in a specific direction.
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by:strung
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P.S. You will find this a very useful resource:

X-Labs FAQ:  http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/faqs.html
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by:strung
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P.P.S, if Disk Utility detects directory corruption, try restarting with a safe boot by holding down the shift key. This will automatically run the Mac equivalent of CHKDSK. Once booted, run Verify Disk again to see if the directory corruption has been remedied.
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by:strung
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There is also third party diagnostic software available, such a TechToolPro http://www.micromat.com/techtoolpro but quite honestly, I do not think it adds much to the existing Apple diagnostic software.

TechToolPro might be able to fix disk directory corruption that the built-in Apple tools cannot, but the better tool for that is DiskWarrior:  http://www.alsoft.com/diskwarrior/index.html

The free alternative, if Disk Utility cannot repair the drive, is to clone the drive to an external and reformat.

Unlike Windows, with a Mac it is almost never necessary to do that or to re-install the OS.
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Ugo Mena earned 250 total points
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The above methods are great. However IMHO the best method for detecting hardware and software issues is to use an external USB drive with Mac OS X 10.6 and/or above installed on it. Very similar to using the installation media that came with your computer.

With the external drive you can plug into the machine in question and start up from the external by holding the Option key down during startup. This will present you with the option to start up any compatible OS from the ext disk.

This not only allows you to repair permissions, but also allows you to repair the disk,  The "Repair Disk" button is normally disabled, because you cannot repair the startup drive that you are using (I like to use the analogy of trying to wash the same plate you are eating off of).

Beyond the normal OS X Utilities, and/or a current Mac OS X install disk, which are usually my first line of diagnostics and repair, my most trusted 3rd party repair apps are as follows:

Micromat: Tech Tool Pro
Great at detecting hardware and software issues/pending failures/failures
Disk, directory and file corruption/repair

Alsoft: Diskwarrior
Great at detecting Disk, directory and file corruption/repair

Bombich Software, Inc: Carbon Copy Cloner
Best duplication/cloning for Mac OS disks
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by:strung
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Booting from an external is excellent advise.
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