If you are like me your work computer is one of your most prized possessions. It does the heavy lifting in post production, and it's also there in times of need, like "needing" to waste four hours on Facebook instead of finishing your retouching. So, what is the best way to keep that fine piece of machinery in tip top shape? Well, honestly there are a lot of ways, but I'm only going to tell you about my favorite apps, all 6 of them. Unfortunately for you Windows and Linux peeps I'm an Apple user, so most of these apps are Mac only. *womp womp*
I have a weekly routine that I go through that includes six different apps on my mid-2010 Macbook Pro. I do this routine religiously, and *knock wood* it has kept my computer running like new since the day I tore off the cellophane.
First program of note is iStat Menus. It's not 'technically' a part of my weekly regimen but they run all the time, and I feel they are critical to keeping me abreast of what my computer is doing.
iStat Menus is simply a system monitor, a REALLY in depth system monitor. You can keep track of processor activity, hard drive capacity, memory usage and even tweak the speed of your internal fans. My laptop likes to run hot (like 200º while running LR hot) so being able to crank up the fan speed not only protects my computer, but cooling down the processors helps things run a bit faster. iStats is available for a modest $16 for a single user, or $24 for a "family pack" of 4.
The next program (actually the first in my weekly cleaning regimen) is Daisy Disk. DD is a space management app that scans your hard drives and displays contents in an organized and colorful graph. What is great about DD is that it shows your drive's contents in descending size order so you can quickly see where the bulk of your storage is being used. That allows you to find and eliminate random files you may not need anymore; like video clips that you may have forgotten were there, random downloads or that ever present "I'll get to this later" folder. Daisy Disk will run you $9.99 on the Apple App store.
Then it's time for the virus scan, which is handled by Virus Barrier Express. This FREE app lets you scan and repair pretty much any drive you can plug into your machine. Updating its virus definitions is just a click of the mouse and you can even set up an automatic schedule so you don't even have to open the thing. It will just do it. There is a paid version of this app which costs $9.99 at the App Store, but considering I have yet to find any viruses or malware on my Mac *again Knock wood*, I haven't felt the need to upgrade.
This next one is probably my favorite as well as my most highly recommended; Clean My Mac 2. CMM has been on my machine since day one. It's a ridiculously simple app to use and astonishingly effective at what it does. So what does it do? Well it also scans your computer, but CMM looks for common "waste of space" files, like caches, unused apps, language files, stuff that just accumulates over time on your hard drive; like dust. CMM is also very efficient at removing apps from your machine. No more trying to find that "uninstall" file, just drag the application into CMM and it searches out all associated files and eliminates them. CMM also keeps track of how much you've cleaned from your computer. Notice I've cleaned over 400gb of crap off of my laptop (which has only a 128gb SSD)! One key feature of CMM is that it promises NOT to mess up your computer. There are apps out there that let you get in pretty deep into the cleaning and customization of the Mac, but don't have any safeguards. CMM guarantees not to harm your computer. Clean My Mac 2 is available for $39.95 for a single user, and it's worth it!
This next app is one of the aforementioned 'deep cleaning' apps. Onyx is a FREE app that has a TON of options for doing pretty much what Clean My Mac does, and MORE. The drawback here is, Onyx won't keep you from messing up your computer. It's more of an a la carte type of cleaning program. You can repair disk permissions, delete caches even rebuild folder structures. I use Onyx to essentially do what Clean My Mac did with two added steps. I have Onyx do a S.M.A.R.T status check on my drive, as well as a permissions repair. I also have it purge the users cash and browser history. Onyx also does an automatic restart of your machine, which I take the opportunity to do a PRAM reset. You can set up a custom automation to include what you want in the process and exclude the dangerous stuff. It does come with pretty thorough warning screens (that you have to disable in the preferences) so you know when you are treading into dangerous territory. If you have Clean My Mac this one is a bit redundant, but hey, it's free, and if you know what you are doing with computer thingys then it's much more powerful than CMM.
Last but not least, I do a backup of my critical files and systems using ChronoSync. ChronoSync is a backup utility that can pretty much backup and sync anything you can connect to your computer. I use it much like Apple's Time Machine by backing up my system files every week. I also use it when on set shooting as a way to continually back up files coming into the computer. Chronosync will sync files like many backup programs, but will only backup new files, or anything that has changed since the last backup. It's also designed to be autonomous, so you can set scheduled backups of all or some of your data, as well as make bootable backups. Now it is a little pricey at $40 considering Time Machine comes with every OSX computer, however the added versatility of the program makes it a solid investment.
Now, are all of these programs necessary? Probably not, I mean it is a Mac after all. 'It just works'. However computers do change over time. They get cluttered and need to be taken in for a tune up on occasion. These programs have minimized my need to take my computer in for a tune up, and like I said there is hardly a difference in performance from the day I brought it home to today. I suggest giving most of these a shot, and see if you notice any differences in performance, cuz I bet you will.
Do you have a favorite app for maintenance of your computer? Let us know about it!