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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Macintosh OS X Routine Maintenance

By Randy B. Singer

Copyright © Randy B. Singer, 2004 - 2008. All worldwide rights reserved. 
Permission is hereby given to link to this site, but no other use is permitted without express written permission.

Covers OS X 10.2 through OS X 10.5

I've created this site because so many of the Macintosh users that I have encountered have expressed frustration that they don't know what to do, or what to use, for performing routine maintenance on their Macintosh running OS X. There is also a huge amount of misinformation going around on the subject. Even Apple has contributed to the confusion with conflicting tech notes on their Web site. With the assistance of a few free utility programs, routine maintenance under OS X is very easy. The problem for most users is figuring out which utility to use, and for what. This site will tell you that.

Just a little routine maintenance can make a Macintosh that is acting old and slow run like it was new again! It can also banish vexing spinning beachball cursors, rid you of "out of memory" error messages, and keep your valuable data from being lost.

The Philosophy behind this site:

This is not (necessarily) a site for experts and power-users. What I recommend here is what I see as the easiest, quickest, surest, least intimidating, and least expensive way to accomplish valuable routine maintenance. If you enjoy inputting arcane commands at a UNIX prompt, if you know UNIX inside and out, if you have money burning a hole in your pocket for commercial software with lots of questionable features, or if you enjoy playing around with the features of powerful (and potentially dangerous) software that you don't really understand, this site isn't meant for you. I freely admit that there are other ways to do the routine maintenance suggested on this site, but the procedures that I recommend here are designed to be the best ones for the average Macintosh user.

I've tried to make it easy as possible. I tell you what you should do, and what you should do it with, and roughly how often. If you are an average user, you can just follow my recommendations and be happy that you have done what is necessary. If you want to know more...the "why," or the other options, or any controversy that exists in the Macintosh community over the need for these procedures, I've provided a "Discussion" section for each bit of routine maintenance, as well as a bunch of linked citations.

here are several very common myths circulating about Macintosh maintenance. I don't know anywhere else where they are all acknowledged in one place. I have endeavored to mention them all on this site. Look for the headings: "Maintenance Myth".

Note: Many problems that one might experience while running OS X, especially performance and memory error problems, can be traced to not having enough RAM (memory) installed. The amount of RAM that comes standard with a new Macintosh (assuming that you haven't paid to have more RAM installed at the time of purchase) usually the bare minimum necessary, and adding more RAM to your Mac is usually a good idea. In my personal opinion, in no case should a Mac running OS X have less than 512MB of RAM, for decent performance. OS X 10.5 should probably have at least 1GB of RAM available.  More RAM is just about always better.

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