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Maintaining Macs--Why doesn't Apple tell you more?

Answers: Have 15 answers
This is not a problem that I need to solve but just something I've been wondering about. Why doesn't Apple tell people the routines they need to use to maintain their Macs?
If you do a search on "maintenance" in Support the fourth item is Mac Maintenance Quick Assist:
The things they tell you to do are:
1) Keep Things Up to Date; 2) Put Your Files Away; 3) Name Your Files; 4) Prune Through Your Files; 5) Back Up Your Files; 6) Check for Viruses; 7) Clean the Outside
Where is anything about running the maintenance scripts, checking permissions, checking your preferences, updating the databases, cleaning caches, or anything else that software programs like Onyx, Cocktail, etc make their purpose? Why don't they mention getting a program like Disc Warrior and running it periodically?
The first item on their list is Keep Things Up to Date, meaning download system and application updates. Well after looking at these forums for a while I would have to say that is the worst thing you could do, as so many posts start, " Help! I updated my software and now things don't work...." Even if you look at this article about updating your software...
...nowhere does it mention repairing your permissions! Yet everywhere on this forum that is mentioned as one of the first things to do...unfortunately AFTER people are crazy with problems.
I don't get it. Even in the manuals that come with the computers none of this stuff is mentioned (last time I looked) except in the troubleshooting section. Would you buy a car where the owner's manual had "change the oil regularly" listed in a section on what to do after you've blown your engine?
Granted, a lot of people on this forum know all these things and do them regularly, but I have several friends with Macs who never do any regular maintenance because they've never been told to. One just called me last week because his iMac auto-updated and he had all sorts of problems.
So why is this? Why isn't basic Mac maintenance explained to people better? Going back to the car analogy, people have been taught they have to give their cars tune-ups or face an eventual breakdown. Why not with Macs?
I have been using Macs for years and enjoy looking into this geeky stuff. And I rarely have any serious problems. I would think it has a lot to do with the fact that I don't automatically update without checking MacFixit first and seeing what problems people are having and running a few simple maintenance routines periodically, plus backing up for good measure. Why isn't Apple more upfront with people about maintaining their Macs? Am I off-base here?
ibook G3, imac G5   Mac OS X (10.4.9)  
The best answer: I'll provide you with several references you will find interesting reading:
The document to which you referred is an old one that dates back a ways when permissions repairs were often still needed because many installers improperly changed permissions or caused permissions to change through other improper operations. In reality the only thing permissions repair affects are the permissions on OS X installed software for which there are receipts in the /Library/Receipts/ folder and third-party software that install a receipt that includes information on resetting permissions for that software. The vast majority of third-party applications provide no such information and repairing permissions has no impact on them.
As for maintenance scripts they are now supposed to be run automatically regardless of whether the computer is turned on in the early AM, but this is an implementation with Tiger because Tiger introduced a new method of task launching. It's not 100 percent effective but it's better than it was. However, it's an easy problem to solve because there are some excellent utilities that solve the problem: Macaroni, Anacron, and Pseudo Anacron - VersionTracker or MacUpdate. I use Macaroni on all my Macs.
Kappy's Personal Suggestions for OS X Maintenance
For disk repairs use Disk Utility. For situations DU cannot handle the best third-party utilities are: Disk Warrior; DW only fixes problems with the disk directory, but most disk problems are caused by directory corruption; Disk Warrior 4.0 is now Intel Mac compatible. TechTool Pro provides additional repair options including file repair and recovery, system diagnostics, and disk defragmentation. TechTool Pro 4.5.2 is Intel Mac compatible; Drive Genius is similar to TechTool Pro in terms of the various repair services provided. The current version, 1.5.1, is Intel Mac compatible.
OS X performs certain maintenance functions that are scheduled to occur on a daily, weekly, or monthly period. The maintenance scripts run in the early AM only if the computer is turned on 24/7 (no sleep.) If this isn't the case, then an excellent solution is to download and install a shareware utility such as Macaroni, JAW PseudoAnacron, or Anacron that will automate the maintenance activity regardless of whether the computer is turned off or asleep.
OS X automatically defrags files less than 20 MBs in size, so unless you have a disk full of very large files there's little need for defragmenting the hard drive. As for virus protection there are few if any such animals affecting OS X. You can protect the computer easily using the freeware Open Source virus protection software ClamXAV. Personally I would avoid most commercial anti-virus software because of their potential for causing problems.
I would also recommend downloading the shareware utility TinkerTool System that you can use for periodic maintenance such as removing old logfiles and archives, clearing caches, etc.
For emergency repairs install the freeware utility Applejack. If you cannot start up in OS X, you may be able to start in single-user mode from which you can run Applejack to do a whole set of repair and maintenance routines from the commandline.
When you install any new system software or updates be sure to repair the hard drive and permissions beforehand. I also recommend booting into safe mode before doing system software updates.
Get an external Firewire drive at least equal in size to the internal hard drive and make (and maintain) a bootable clone/backup. You can make a bootable clone using the Restore option of Disk Utility. You can also make and maintain clones with good backup software. My personal recommendations are (order is not significant):
1. Retrospect Desktop (Commercial - not yet universal binary)
2. Synchronize! Pro X (Commercial)
3. Synk (Backup, Standard, or Pro)
4. Deja Vu (Shareware)
5. PsynchX 2.1.1 and RsyncX 2.1 (Freeware)
6. Carbon Copy Cloner (Freeware - 3.0 is a Universal Binary)
7. SuperDuper! (Commercial)
The following utilities can also be used for backup, but cannot create bootable clones:
1. Backup (requires a .Mac account with Apple both to get the software and to use it.)
2. Toast
3. Impression
4. arRSync
Apple's Backup is a full backup tool capable of also backing up across multiple media such as CD/DVD. However, it cannot create bootable backups. It is primarily an "archiving" utility as are the other two.
Impression and Toast are disk image based backups, only. Particularly useful if you need to backup to CD/DVD across multiple media.
Visit The XLab FAQs and read the FAQs on maintenance, optimization, virus protection, and backup and restore.
Additional suggestions will be found in Mac Maintenance Quick Assist.
Referenced software can be found at www.versiontracker.com and www.macupdate.com.
I know that Joe Average has no clue, but it's not Apple's responsibility to provide Joe Average with clues on how to use a computer. No more than it's not GM's responsibility to teach you how be an automotive mechanic or how to drive. Some things you have to take responsibility for yourself. It's just that Joe Average is too lazy to read the User Guide, buy a book, or in any other way learn about computers before buying one.
As you can tell I am somewhat heavy handed about personal responsibility. Computers are essentially toys that aren't dangerous, but the person playing with them is. What really scares the crap out of me is that same Joe Average has a driver's license and may be old enough to drink liquor. When it comes to driving or drinking and driving Joe Average is no more competent.


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