Optimizing Your Mac Hard Drive @cbell619 @anotherschwab

Earlier today, I shared that I was optimizing my Macbook's hard drive.
Defragmenting/Optimizing the hard drive on my Macbook before making a complete backup with CarbonCopyCloner. plurk.com/p/9x5vwt
In response via Twitter, @cbell619 asked the following:
what's the best method for defrag/optimize hard drive on macbook
Some say that you don't need to...but I've always found it to result in a speed boost.

I'm not sure what the BEST way is, but I've arrived at the following way after much experimentation and effort expended. Here are my recommendations:

  1. Get Carbon Copy Cloner(no cost) an easy to use utility that you can use to backup your entire Mac hard drive to an external USB hard drive of greater size. For example, my tiny 80gig Macbook drive has about 55 gigs of stuff on it. I also have a 180gig back up drive. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to make a bootable backup of my Macbook drive to the external USB drive. That's right, bootable.

    So, if my Macbook's hard drive were to die immediately after I make the backup, I'd be able to keep working off my 180gig drive. This is a life-saver, since I could theoretically (no, wait, I've done that already, so it's not theoretical anymore!) send my Macbook off for repair and when my repaired Macbook came back, I could restore from the external drive and everything would be as if I'd had the Macbook all along!

    *Some people like SuperDuper in lieu of CarbonCopyCloner. Whatever you want to invest....
  2. Get an external USB hard drive of greater size than your current drive. That way, you can back up and have room to grow on if need be. These are cheap now...for example, you could have purchased a $29 (after rebates) Maxtor 500gig external hard drive today (1/1/11)!!
  3. Run Carbon Copy Cloner, plug in your external USB drive and make the backup.
  4. Now that you've made a backup, buy a copy of iDefrag. It only costs $30 and you'll use it enough to make a difference. I definitely recommend it having tried all free and costly alternatives first (e.g. Disk Warrior. iDefrag works. 
  5. Put iDefrag on your backup external USB drive then--with your external drive connected--restart your Macbook holding down the OPTION/ALT key. This will allow you to choose your boot drive...your external drive.
  6. Once your external drive has started up, run iDefrag and point it at your Mac's hard drive and optimize. Wait patiently, then restart when done...enjoy the difference!
Some folks say, "You don't need to optimize/defrag Mac OS X," but I've found that it results in a significant speed boost on my Macbooks (personal and/or work). Again, I've done this multiple times and always been pleased with the results...try it yourself and see. The only operating system I've found that doesn't need to be optimized is GNU/Linux.

That last paragraph in mind, I'm not interested in fighting any holy wars about the point. I'm sharing MY experiences.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Andrew Schwab said…
I'll have to check out iDefrag. It's a third the cost of Disk Warrior. For school computers, i generally make it a point to image them once a year, which resets any issues that might require a process like this. But for personal computers, this makes total sense.

Love Carbon Copy Cloner by the way, been using it since 2003. Absolutely awesome free tool.

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