How to Avoid Downtime – Some Preventative Steps

By taking proactive steps towards the health of your computer system will help in preventing downtime when you least expect it.

What preventative maintenance steps can you take to avoid downtime?

There are a number of maintenance steps that you can carry out on a monthly and quarterly basis which should help prevent your system from slowing down or even worse, eventually becoming unusable.
I have selected some of the best utilities out there, some of which we have covered in previous posts (thanks Richard and Russell), so will briefly lay out their key features and set out a recommended frequency (i.e. monthly, quarterly) when you should  ideally run these programs.
There are many utilities (some commercial, some free) that perform health checks, repairs and optimise you system, so lets start with Apple Disk Utility.

Apple Disk Utility – Repair Disk Permissions

Developer: Apple (free as part of Mac OS X)
Frequency: Use monthly or preferably anytime before and after installing new software, system or application updates.

Titanium Onyx – Clear Caches, rebuild Spotlight index, and more.

Developer: Titanium Onyx (free)
Frequency: Run quarterly or whenever your systems performance is lower than usual.
I would recommend running the “Automation” scripts that run Maintenance Scripts, rebuild Launch Services, rebuild Spotlight Index, and clear System and Application Caches, amongst many other important tasks. Always quit all other applications and don’t use your computer while Onyx is running!

Alsoft DiskWarrior – Rebuild Disk Directory

Developer: Alsoft (commercial)
Frequency: Run bi-yearly or if you suspect any hard drive problems like reading or saving files located on your hard drive.
I cannot praise this utility enough and I don’t think any other Mac engineer worth their weight would disagree. Don’t wait for a hard drive crash before purchasing this, it can be run as a preventative measure and also provide some much-needed additional hard drive performance especially for Final Cut or Photoshop users.

Apple Software Update, App Store updating, and other updates

Developer: Apple (free as part of Mac OS X), AppFresh (free)
Frequency: Run monthly
Although we do not advise updating your system the very day Apple release a new system update (best to wait a couple of weeks for major system updates) but in general it’s good to keep on top of updates which may address some annoying bugs.
In addition to Apple Software Update you can now also run Apple’s App Store application and check for updates for apps that are available in the App Store that you may have installed to your Mac.
Finally, there’s a free utility called AppFresh that will scan your applications folder and check and recommend any vital updates. A real time saver being able to do this from a simple application rather than checking each and every software developer’s website.