Disk Maintenance in OS X Panther
for Desktop Publishing and PrePress

If your Mac OS X workststion has been running sluggish after installing lots of new software, this article is for you. You may be looking for the best disk maintenance utility? Before buying a new disk utilty, like Norton, Disk Warrior, or TechTool Pro, please save your money and read this article. Disk utilities can do more harm than good these days on today's Mac OS X.

I do not use anything like Norton, Disk Warrior, or Tech Tool on Mac OS X 10.2 and above. Those utilities are now virtually obsolete, since Mac OS X 10.2 , OS X has built in technology to deal with disk fragmentation and directory problems. Additionally, Norton Utilities for mac has been completely discontinued, an indicator that disk utilities are a dead end piece of software these days. You don't need a disk utility like Norton, Disk Warrior, and TechTool Pro anymore to keep a Mac workstation running well.

The new developments in Mac OS X represent quite a positive change from the regular disk maintenance required for Mac OS 9. After Mac OS 10.2.8, there were improvements made to deal with long standing issues of disk fragmentation and directory damage. For an older Mac OS, Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X prior to Mac OS X 10.2.8, Norton and Disk Warrior are appropriate and necessary. For those of us running Mac OS X 10.2.8, Mac OS X panther, or tiger, it is a new day with new solutions.

Never use norton utilities on a Mac OS X 10.3 machine, it will likely do far more harm than good and has been known to actually LOSE the ENTIRE hard drive.  With 10.3 we have to change the way we are used to dealing with disk and file maintenance. These routines outlined here is the core important maintenance stuff for Mac OS X 10.3. This following procedure should be all you need to do to keep your mac running smoothly.


- When to do Maintenance in Mac OS X -

I would recommend monthly, maybe weekly if you are a VERY serious and heavy 24 hour user of PDF-X-Robot™. Of course, if your machine is not running smoothly, normally, you have installed lots of software or have purged a lot of stuff from your HD, do the following maintenance routines.


- Run Disk First Aid, Regularly in OS X -

With OS X 10.3 panther, you can only run Disk First Aid (repair) on a startup disk from the installer CD.  To do this, put in the installer, reboot holding down the "C" key till you are booted from the CD and looking at the OS X installer.

Go to the apple menu at upper left, go "Disk First aid" .  Then, select your startup disk and run "Repair Disk"

When that's done, reboot from the internal startup disk, go into Applications/Utilities/Disk First Aid .  Now, select the startup disk and run "Repair Permissions"   This can take several minutes and will clean up many issues of file ownership and permissions between critical files.  "Repair Permissions" is a very important maintenance item that should be run reularly.


- Run Periodic Maintenance on OS X -

Mac OS X is programmed to run Periodic Maintenance Tasks that clean up unused logs and cache files. Your Mac OS X periodic maintenance routines also back up some UNIX files.

Mac OS X tries to run these maintenance tasks at night, at 3, 4, or 5 AM, depending on what the commands do. But, if your computer is turned off or asleep, this maintenance does not take place.

Not running these tasks is unlikely to cause instability. But, as a part of your regular maintenance, this is important to keep your Mac happy and should be a part of your Mac OS X maintenance procedure.

Each of these sudo lines below is a command, after the first command and return, the terminal may ask you for your admin password.  After each line, return is the enter that initiates the command to run.

After each is executed, wait until the previous command has completed to start the second one.  Some will run for minutes before being done on some tasks, depending on how much stuff there is to clean up. On Jaguar or Panther, open your Terminal and type the following command lines, then wait till cursor starts blinking to run next line.


sudo periodic daily

sudo periodic weekly

sudo periodic monthly


- Update Prebinding on Mac OS X Panther -

Your computer may slow down to a crawl after you have installed new application(s).  To those of you old mac hacks, this is like the Mac OS X version of rebuilding the desktop file.

To "update the prebinding" means to force Mac OS X 10.3 panther to go through all of its application files making sure that they are correctly linked together. Many application installers have this built in, so most installers usually take care of this when installing, some do not.

To do this, simply open your Terminal and type the following sudo line, followed by a return.  The return executes the command to run. Wait for the command to finish before doing anything else.


sudo update_prebinding -root / -force


- Mac OS X and Purging Cache Files -

With regard to caches used by OS X, Mac OS X uses copies of things in cache so that it can speed things up by re-using stuff from cache. However, after awhile on a heavily used machine, like a prepress machine, all these files can pile up and actually start to slow your macintosh down. These excessive cache files can also become corrupted causing problems with use of their related applications and functions

So, if your mac OS X seems sluggish or is having problems, it is a good idea to go ahead and clean this stuff out. Just go to these folders in your Finder and clean out the contents of:

Macintosh HD/Library/Caches/

Macintosh HD/Users/UserName/Library/Caches/

This will make the macintoish run a little more snappy if your cache hasn't been cleaned in awhile. I do this about once a month. Remember, that there will be browser cache files in there that may slow down web access at first. That's because you have deleted info that the browser uses to accelerate frequently used sites in loading.


- Reset your PRAM in Mac OS X 10.3 -

Although most mac settings are in prefs files there is also info held on a hardware chip called (parameter RAM) or PRAM. Sometimes setting this chip back to its factory default can straighten out a problem.

To reset your PRAM on mac OS X, restart mac OS X with the following combo. Hold down all these keys while it restarts Command+Option+P+R . As the mac reboots, hold down the keys till you hear the chime 3 times.

After this, you may need to reset the mac Os X keyboard repeat rate, date & time, startup disk, and other prefs stored in your PRAM. Between these last things and all that in the above post, that should be all the maintenance a mac needs. I agree that that is a good maintenance regime and you won't need a third party disk utility.



Immediate Mac OS X User Support
for all
PDF-X-Robot™ Users

Support and training is Software-Robotics expertise. Below are the top three ways in which you can get support. We guarantee our software products and will do what it takes to get you up and running. Below are the recommended steps when you need support from us.

(1) PDF-X-Robot Users Support Forum - We want all tech support funneled through our user to user support forums. All problems and help there are kept in a searchable support database. You can easily search out error messages and problems and easily find solutions. Additionally you can get help from many seasoned users who have used PDF-X-Robot™ since beta testing! We watch this board all the time and you will be helped in short order by a technician or another user in our community.

(2) support@software-robotics.com - Please Do not delay in emailing us, anytime. We want to know what problems you are having and assist whenever possible. Whenever you email, BE VERY SPECIFIC as to exactly what is happening and what was the last thing that worked PRIOR to the problem. After emailing us, we recommend that you proceed to search in our user forums.

(3) software-robotics.com/docs/ - We have a support docs directory on our servers with HTML pages of support info. There's not much here that you can't find at the support forum, but, we like to have several points to access to support information for you. Additionally, there will be a folder named "docs" in your PDF-X-Robot application folder that has HTML help and support pages for easy access and use.


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