Disk Doctor: Quick and Easy Disk Cleaning

I’ve recently started toying with the idea of upgrading my MacBook Pro’s stock 500 GB hard drive with a new SSD. The cost of an SSD that comes anywhere close to 500 gigs is terrifying, so I’ve been shopping around for a drive that has less than half of that capacity. In order to determine if I could survive with a comparatively diminutive drive, I’ve begun some serious spring cleaning.

There are a ton of great apps out there for keeping your Mac’s hard drive clean. FIPLAB joins this crowded market with a very simple utility called Disk Doctor. I’ve employed it in my quest to squeeze my disk usage down to SSD capacity. Read on to find out how it fared in my tests.

The Basics

I suppose the name of the app is a tad misleading here. You might expect an app that has “disk” and “doctor” in the same name to be capable of some actions similar to your Mac’s built-in Disk Utility. Disk Doctor doesn’t actually diagnose or “fix” anything; it just cleans your drive in much the same way as many competing apps.

Disk Doctor quickly finds your hard drive and prompts you to begin the scan.

After launching the app, it’ll scan your drive. You’ll see a gauge which shows your drive’s capacity, how much is being used, and how much space Disk Doctor can give you.

What Disk Doctor Finds

Beneath the gauge are six checkboxes: Caches, Logs, Languages, Trash Can, Downloads, and Mail Downloads. The developers do a nice job of giving casual users an idea of what each of these categories is with a quick explanation beneath each label. Under languages, you can select which ones to delete.

The scanning process is quick. It took less than a minute to find about 3 GB of junk.

For comparison’s sake, I let Disk Doctor perform its first scan but did not let it clean up anything. I then launched CleanMyMac, (a long-time favorite of mine for keeping my disk lean), and let it perform a scan as well. Disk Doctor found 3.1 GB to clean. CleanMyMac found the exact same number, though it carried it out to one more decimal (3.16).

Performance

Regarding these two scans using Disk Doctor and CleanMyMac, there was a significant difference in speed. CleanMyMac took about 80 seconds to complete the scan while Disk Doctor was done in about 25. The reason for this is the scope of the search: I ran CleanMyMac in “authorized” mode, which requires that you enter your user password in order to grant the app access to more files on your drive. CleanMyMac had to search more of the drive, but still found the same amount of junk to delete. I’m sure that wouldn’t always be the case though.

Once it's done, Disk Doctor will tell you how much space it saved.

Once I was ready to delete what Disk Doctor had found, I hit the “Clean” button. The app gives you a little warning to remind you that it isn’t compressing anything – its deleting.

I couldn’t compare the speeds of Disk Doctor and CleanMyMac when it came to actually deleting files, because after I ran Disk Doctor’s cleaning function CleanMyMac would have nothing to do. However, the 3 GB were dealt with in about 45 seconds, which certainly felt like a reasonable amount of time. After Disk Doctor is done, you get a somewhat unimpressive window with a summary of how much space you’ve saved.

Criticisms

The first thing I found disappointing about Disk Doctor was the sixth area for the scanning process: Mail downloads. I, like many Mac users, have not opened Mail for years. I have used Sparrow since it was released, and before that I used Outlook for Mac. Consequently, not being able to scan any other mail clients means that Disk Doctor is ignoring a potentially huge area for cleaning. That said, CleanMyMac didn’t search for big attachments in Sparrow either.

While part of this app’s appeal is its simplicity, there are some trade-offs there. There is no preference pane for Disk Doctor, which means everything that I’ve covered here is the extent of its functionality. Open the preferences for CleanMyMac and you’ll see a ton of options, including some important ones like the ability use “secure” erase mode, (which Disk Doctor does not offer).

I use a couple of 2 GB external drives to store movies and music. I’ve let those become a disorganized mess of random files and junk that I would love to be able to clean up with a program like Disk Doctor. However, it automatically chooses your main drive for scanning with no option to scan others. Again, CleanMyMac doesn’t actually score any better, as it too ignores external drives. So far, the only app I’ve tried that does clean external drives as well is DriveSlim.

The last critique is a very minor one. During the cleaning process, a progress bar appears. However, it doesn’t show you how far along it is, let alone what step it’s on.

Conclusion

There are loads of these sorts of drive cleaning utilities, and I’ve tried plenty of them. Personally, I’ve always been perfectly happy with CleanMyMac. Disk Doctor was able to perform many of the same functions as CleanMyMac, and did so slightly more quickly. However, CleanMyMac has a few important features that still make it my favorite among these sorts of utilities, (such as automatic application uninstalling). Still, Disk Doctor performs its more limited duties very well.

At just two bucks, you’re getting a very capable utility for a great price. CleanMyMac goes for $30 for a lifetime license, which makes the price tag for Disk Doctor even more appealing. If you are simply looking to free up some space on your drive, I have no qualms about you buying Disk Doctor. If you are looking for a more robust cleaning solution, you may want to consider a more fully-featured app.


Summary

A handy utility for quickly cleaning up your hard drive.

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