One of the many perks of owning a Mac is the fact that they require so little maintenance to keep running smoothly. Our Mac isn’t infallible, however, and they are still built from the same types of components as any other computer, meaning that hardware faults can potentially occur. In these instances, it’s best to try and find out if something is wrong before it’s too late, saving you the hassle of unexpected downtime.
Micromat’s Techtool Pro has been around for many years, with Apple even offering a variant called Techtool Deluxe as part of their AppleCare Protection Plan to Mac customers. Their latest iteration, Techtool Pro 7, is a comprehensive troubleshooting app with some powerful diagnostic features that is a must-buy for any technician, though this may not be the case for the average user.
Straight away, Techtool Pro provides information about your Mac, its processor and connectivity options through the use of gauges. I can’t help but find the interface for Techtool Pro a little cumbersome. While these gauges are pretty, they don’t really serve any purpose as the numbers they report are fixed and aren’t going to vary yet a gauge does give the impression that these numbers might vary. Additional information about your Mac is also provided, including information gathered from the serial number (such as build location) and what storage is attached.
The main focus of Techtool Pro is with its range of tests that you can run on your Mac to ensure that both hardware and software are running well. Each individual test, from memory to graphics and, most importantly of all, your hard drive, can be run individually or you can run them all consecutively by using the Check Computer option.
Each option is clearly described, both the purpose of the test and what it involves. The software is also smart enough to know if you have multiple hard drives attached and will automatically include additional tests for any external storage you may have connected.
If Techtool Pro does find any issue with your Mac, it includes a comprehensive tool kit that can attempt to repair most software related issues. Obviously, if it finds any hardware issues then you’ll need to head to the nearest Apple Store pronto, but otherwise Techtool Pro may save you the bother if it is something that it can repair.
The vast majority of tools it offers relate to the file system and data on your hard drive. While Disk Utility can perform similar tests and repairs, Techtool Pro includes far more in-depth options. There are options to defragment the hard drive and repair and rebuild the system volume. Over the years, Techtool Pro has helped me resurrect Macs that, due to a corrupt volume, would have only been repairable by wiping the hard drive and reinstalling Mac OS X.
It isn’t just repairing and finding issues that it can do, Techtool Pro also offers some useful options such as whole disk cloning and, perhaps more useful, an option to create a bootable disk for your Mac should anything happen to your Mac’s default startup disk. This eDrive provides a fallback in case anything happens to your Mac’s bootable volume.
Techtool Pro isn’t just about running periodic checks, a helper app is available that will always run in the background to provide a more proactive way of informing you about any potential issues. The helper can provide you with an alert once your Mac’s storage space drops below a certain amount and regularly back up your directory structure so that it can be restored if a software update goes wrong.
But, by far the best feature of this is its data recovery feature by way of something called Trash History — effectively a form of undelete. Once enabled, it will “remember” what you had in the Trash for a certain amount of time after it has been emptied so that if you realise a few days later that you inadvertently deleted an important document, Techtool Pro provides a way of restoring them.
Using both Trash History and regularly backing up our directory structure allows Techtool Pro to potentially recover lost data. It’s far easier, and more advisable, to simply keep a working backup and data recovery services should never be relied upon, but it’s good to have the peace of mind that Techtool Pro is able to perform a salvage operation if your data is lost.
Technicians, IT managers and server administrators will love the background features of Techtool Pro and, should you want to run it on a server, it includes the option to configure email notifications if any errors are detected. Hardware issues on a server are a very big deal and if you’re responsible for a number of Mac OS X servers then knowing about a problem before it becomes serious can potentially save you a lot of time and money.
Techtool Pro is one of the most popular diagnostics and troubleshooting apps available for the Mac. Its wide range of features and ability to notify you of problems before things get too serious make it a great tool and a must-buy for technicians and system administrators alike. For the average Mac user, however, it’s need is far less compelling. With the introduction of Internet Recovery and OS X Recovery, a feature introduced with Mac OS X Lion to boot your Mac if it runs into trouble, Techtool Pro is probably overkill for your needs.