The Essential Disk Warrior: Version 4 now in my Armoury

By Graham K. Rogers

Disk Warrior panel

Disk Warrior, one of the best disk repair utilities available was updated a couple of months back. This had been a long time in development.

At MacWorld in January, only full versions were on sale so I resorted to the Internet when I returned to Thailand. The full version is now $99.95 and is available from the website . The upgrade is $49.95. I regard this application as one of the must-haves for users of OS X.

Disk Warrior disk

A couple of days after my PowerBook was stolen from my house, the Disk Warrior update arrived in the mail. I had ordered this for a couple of reasons: I wanted the latest version as the one I had would not start the PowerBook with the disk (see below); version 4.0 was also for the Intel powered Macs and I was anticipating one of these in my life soon. As it turns out, the theft means this will be sooner than I had intended.

The PowerBook could not use that earlier version as it came installed with a version of OS X later than that used by Disk Warrior. The solution then was to link to another computer with Disk Warrior installed (in my case, the eMac) and start up with the PowerBook in Target mode. The update to version 4 obviates this procedure.

Disk Warrior initial panel

Inserting the disk brings up a panel with the application icon plus a number of important read-me files. There is also now an extensive manual in PDF format. This is well worth reading as it includes information on new features: Scavenge (when another utility has been used first); and the ability to ignore case sensitive formats.

Following the instructions, I dumped my old version in the Trash, dragged the new version to the Utilities folder then ran it. From the startup hard disk, Repair cannot be used: this can only be run from the CDROM or another external source. Every time Disk Warrior is started it (rightly) asks for the Administrator account password.

Disk Warrior graph

Graph is available as before but two new facilities appear here: "Files" which can repair permissions and check all files or folders for compatibility and other problems; and Hardware, which checks the integrity of any hard disk.

Disk Warrior tools panel

This can be run manually or in Automatic mode to check at regular intervals: useful if one has critical data. I ran the test and the result referred to the S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) status that is already used in OS X. I also ran the Graph utility and that showed 4% out of order which is reasonable for a disk that had not been checked in several weeks.

I later ran the "Check of All Files and Folders" which took about 5 minutes on my 40GB hard disk. Two or three minor problems were reported. As well as files and folders, it examines such attributes as paths, hierarchy depths and file forks.

The real value of Disk Warrior is in diagnosing a problem disk, or as a form of regular preventative maintenance. I restarted with the disk in the drive and held down the C-key. Start up was slow as ever: a drive does not run as fast as a hard disk. There is time to make coffee unless you are like me and watch like a hawk.

The same panel as earlier appeared but this time the hard disk can be repaired as it is not the start disk. As with the previous version, a series of checks is made. In my case, all files were shown to be correct in the onscreen report, but "Incorrect values in the Volume Information were repaired." This is a minor problem but worth checking as that information concerned reporting of disk space. Retrieving some lost space was one of my reasons for the check.

Disk Warrior checking

After examining the report, I clicked on "Replace" and the directory was rebuilt. A report can be saved, but its location needs selecting as the default was Root.

And then it just sits there. A first time user might be confused, but at the end of the process one has to "Quit" Disk Warrior then the computer will restart automatically. Just in case, I held down the mouse button to eject the disk at startup.

The report was showing a different time from the computer. Alsoft tells me that it is using the operating system on the CD, including its time/date stamp. It is set for Cupertino.

I have been running the eMac for almost three years with no problems and no need to reinstall the operating system. The same was true for the PowerBook. It is not magic. Disk Warrior is one of the tools I use for regular maintenance although perhaps it is the most effective.

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