Review: DiskWarrior 4.1.1*
by Steve Becker

Company: Alsoft
Price: $99.95 SRP


A number of years ago I reviewed DiskWarrior for MacAddict and gave it a very high rating. Since that time, the program has had several major upgrades which have both enhanced existing features and added some new features. Before discussing the specifics of DiskWarrior's performance, I want to provide a brief overview of why having an application such as DiskWarrior is so important.

Many people believe in the philosophy of "if it's not broken, then don't fix it." Unfortunately with a computer, often by the time that you notice something is broken it's either too late to fix it or irreparable data loss has taken place.

Your computer's hard drive contains something called a "Directory." The information in this Directory is used to keep track of the data that is on your computer. If this information becomes corrupted or is destroyed, your computer can't find part of or entire files that reside on the hard drive. This can result in myriad problems such as corrupted and lost data and the inability of your computer to boot up and run correctly.

Additionally, the contents of the Directory can become fragmented, and this fragmentation tends to grow over time unless a program is used to defragmentize it. Fragmentation of your Directory causes your hard drive to work harder because it needs to search for these fragments so that it can find and assemble the files on your computer. This creates extra wear and tear on your hard drive, and in extreme cases this can noticeably negatively impact the performance of your computer.


Finding Hidden Problems

Earlier, I said that by the time that a problem becomes obvious irreparable damage to data may have occurred. Your computer most likely contains many hundreds of thousands of files, and probably most of these files are not accessed on a daily basis. In other, words, even if many of your files are corrupted, you may not be aware of it until you access the corrupted file(s). Further, certain types of problems that can cause file corruption can continue to cause hidden damage to an ever increasing percentage of the files that are on your computer.

Fortunately, serious problems like this are not a common occurrence for most of us, but sooner or later they do affect many of us. The expression "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is applicable because using a program like DiskWarrior on a regular basis to find and repair hidden Directory problems can save you a huge amount of lost time and heartache trying to deal with data loss that could have been prevented in the first place.


DiskWarrior Lives up to its Name

As DiskWarrior has evolved, it has extended its feature set to include checking for things such as corrupted preference files and certain types of hard drive issues that indicate possible imminent drive failure. However, the core function of DiskWarrior is checking for Directory damage and repairing the damage that is found.

Unlike some other disk utilities, DiskWarrior actually replaces a damaged Directory with a new Directory rather than attempting to repair the existing Directory. Alsoft, the creator of DiskWarrior, says that merely patching a problem can both hide other Directory issues and actually lead to additional Directory damage taking place.

By replacing the existing Directory, DiskWarrior also eliminates any Directory fragmentation that was present , and in some cases this results in slightly improved performance of your computer.

DiskWarrior's strength lies in its ease of use and the range and depth of the Directory problems that it can locate and repair. Of course, not every type of Directory problem can be fixed, but I'm not aware of any other consumer utility that can fix a greater range of problems than DiskWarrior. Also, DiskWarrior can be used to try and recover files that have been lost and damaged due to certain types of Directory corruption.


Using DiskWarrior

DiskWarrior comes on a bootable DVD, and generally it's preferable to boot from this disk when checking for and repairing a damaged Directory. Depending on your model of Mac, booting off of the DVD can be very slow, and DiskWarrior itself is no speed demon. However, the program's performance has been optimized over the years and running DiskWarrior is time well spent.

DiskWarrior also can be installed on your hard drive, though the installed application can't repair the volume that it's been installed on. In general, it's best to boot off of the DVD to eliminate the possibility of any processes that are running on your system from interfering with DiskWarrior's critical work. Please note that whenever working with critical files such as your system's Directory, it's a very good idea to backup all important files before attempting to perform any repairs!


The Bottom Line

DiskWarrior is one of those rare programs that virtually every Mac user that considers their data to be important should have. Even if your computer has no obvious signs of having a problem, I recommend running DiskWarrior at least once a month. Just remember, even with an excellent program like DiskWarrior, you should back up all of your important files before working on your computers Directory.

Pros: Performs reliable and thorough checking of a computer's Directory; fixes Directory damage by replacing rather than patching the Directory; via a graph, it displays the amount of Directory fragmentation on a volume; can be used to try and recover damaged and lost files; includes some additional tools; high quality, live phone support is included.

Cons: Expensive; can take a long time to check and repair a volume.

*The complete system requirements are available on Alsoft's website.

(4.5 out of a possible 5)

© 2009 by Steve Becker. All rights reserved.


Top of Page | MacEase Home Page