TechTool Pro v3.0.2
Company: Micromat, Inc.
Estimated Price: $97.98
Newcomers to TechTool Pro may want to spend a little time familiarizing themselves with this software by visiting the micromat.com URL before reading our subjective evaluation.
I installed and ran version 3.0.1 of TTPro, and had some questions regarding its slow operation. Two days later the v3.0.2 upgrade arrived in CD form (and became available on the Internet), which corrected the concerns I had. Make sure you order and receive TechTool Pro 3.0.2, or download and install the most recent upgrade.
Micromat has been a high-profile “Medicine For Your Mac” advertiser in every print Macintosh publication for years, claiming TechTool Pro is superior in every way to the competition, specifically Norton Utilities. I am much more familiar with Norton than with TTPro, so you can consider me an ideal newbie test case to verify Micromat’s ambitious assertions. Here goes.
INSTALLATION AND OPERATION
I installed v3.0.2 of TechTool Pro, after first lightly reading the 137 page printed manual. Installation and registration were a breeze, including mention of firstname.lastname@example.org for any email assistance. When I launched the application, I was advised to reboot from the CD in order to repair my startup drive. (QUESTION: Why can’t TTPro fix from the startup volume, as Norton Disk Doctor does? Is it better to establish a mini-volume on the hard disk, instead of needing to run the software from a CD? ANSWER: “It depends on the volume structure damage as to whether Norton can fix from the startup drive. For more in depth structural problems,” according to Micromat, “you still have to boot from a secondary volume, or the manufacturer’s boot CD-ROM, in order to make the volume that you need to repair inactive. That’s just a Mac OS rule all disk repair utilities have to follow. This is why Norton still makes their CD-ROM bootable.”)
The new MultiTester selected each of the 16 available tests for me, except for Surface Scan. (QUESTION: Why not? ANSWER: “Surface Scan takes a long time to complete, especially if you are running this test for multiple volumes. The checked off tests are ones that Micromat feels should be run. If the user wants to check Surface Scan he/she can in MultiTester. We let
the user decide whether they want this test run initially.”) As the 15 tests progressed, they scrolled from right to left on my monitor. One minor problem was found, which I chose to repair, and trumpets sounded when all the tests finished. You can choose to run tests individually or in groups, in any combination.
Three of the four major features passed (Components, Performance, and Media), but my “files” failed. I snooped around the drop-down boxes at the bottom of the window until I located the Problem Details, which involved potential Software Conflicts. I should have been concerned, but I wasn’t, because the alleged culprit is AppleWorks 5, which I know works perfectly, but which may not have a “recommended updater” according to Micromat.
My System Files also failed (System, Mac OS ROM, and System Resources), but I couldn’t find any “Repair Advice” on fixing them. (QUESTION: Did I miss something obvious? I will let you know after I contact tech support. ANSWER: “No, but we looked at your DNA report, John, in order to enhance the System Profile resources of future releases. Also, with version 3 we have started a new routine for being effective in testing the System, Finder, System Resource, Mac OS ROM, etc. However, there are situations where we may not have all the correct resources for our database, thus a fail result may occur that you should not be concerned about. Contact our tech support about this issue. Thanks.”)
Saving and printing the lengthy report is a bit tricky, but worth the effort. Your best bet is to navigate into your TTPro folder on your hard disk and save it there, especially when you have run a bunch of tests from a CD startup.
TechTool Pro’s Preferences and Control Panel are a bit confusing, and new users will probably not understand how to set them. A series of simple diagnostic checks take place each time my computer starts up, but no problems have been identified yet. I am building up a huge Trash Cache, but don’t really know how to utilize it. According to my tech contact: “The TechTool Pro 3 manual from pages 108 to 115 talk about how to use the TechTool Protection control panel more effectively. You can limit the amount of files/MB’s that Trash Cache builds.”
Micromat hopes customers will choose TechTool Pro over both Norton Utilities and Norton AntiVirus, because v 3.0.2 includes both a virus checker and a disk optimizer.
Optimization is easy to understand and run, but it takes a long time: over 90 minutes on my 10 GB drive containing 3 GB of files (2,865 of which were fragmented).
VOICE OF EXPERIENCE
My cousin Jim just called. He is a full-time professional Macintosh consultant. I quote from his relevant remarks, sent in a recent email message. I’ll print Jim’s entire comments in a future column here in MyMac.com.
John, you must tell your readers that the sequence of disk repair is (1) Disk FirstAid, (2) Norton Disk Doctor, and then (3) TechTool Pro. Each of the three has its strengths and values. Together, they address a spectrum of issues.
(Editor’s Note: I would also recommend the highly acclaimed Disk Warrior, as I have found problem drives that would ONLY be repaired using Disk Warrior.)
What is quite interesting is that Apple included Tech Tool Deluxe with the AppleCare Protection Plan: http://www.apple.com/support/products/proplan.html.
Regardless of whether to repair or to rebuild directories, nothing can replace a complete back up of all data before one begins to assess and attempt to resolve issues with any machine.
Having conducted my initial round of tests with TTP3.0.2 several weeks ago, I just ran it again, following some severe hardware problems and startup error messages. Taking Jim’s advice, I first ran Disk FirstAid and Norton Disk Doctor, neither of which found anything of consequence. TechTool identified a few software conflicts, mostly the result of incompatibilities with OS9, and then corrected some inaccurate dates of files residing in my System Folder. So far my iMac works perfectly again. Wish me good luck.
I am reminded by Micromat that: “Keep in mind, that TechTool Pro 3 still works for users that are running 68K machines, as long as they have System 7.5.5 or better as their operating system. Plus our TechTool Pro 3 CD-ROM is a multi-boot CD, meaning that we can boot any 68030, 68040 and PowerPC machine. Additionally, remember that TechTool Pro was the first Mac disk repair utility that addressed HFS+ volumes when it was first introduced with Mac OS 8.1. We are also completely compatible with all the new machines and all new versions of Mac OS that Apple has introduced and we offer free updates to the program to maintain this compatibility.
“Also, we rebuild the directory structure of the volume when we perform a repair, unlike Norton which only patches issues in the directory structure. We find that rebuilding the directory structure not only fixes the issue better, but may resolve issues that may not be detected.”
That’s quite a mouthful.
Overall the software is robust and efficient, if somewhat bewildering to comprehend. I MUST study the manual in detail to get the most out of this powerful utility. Until then I give TechTool Pro 3.0.2 a rating of:
MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5