Review: MicroMat Drive 10

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Date: Wednesday, August 22nd, 2001, 14:07
Category: Archive

Let’s face it: some reviews you read should be suspect immediately. For instance, a drive repair utility is a difficult application to review effectively. Certainly, a reviewer can have it run routine diagnostics and repairs. But a real world test would be some dramatic drive failure, against an intense deadline, that is totally unexpected. So, how convenient that I (ahem) went that extra mile and, er, PLANNED for such a catastrophe in order to give our readers a complete hands-on with Micromat‘s new OS X-native disk utility, Drive 10.

Let’s face it: some reviews you read should be suspect immediately. For instance, a drive repair utility is a difficult application to review effectively. Certainly, a reviewer can have it run routine diagnostics and repairs. But a real world test would be some dramatic drive failure, against an intense deadline, that is totally unexpected. So, how convenient that I (ahem) went that extra mile and, er, PLANNED for such a catastrophe in order to give our readers a complete hands-on with Micromat‘s new OS X-native disk utility, Drive 10.

Yes, here at the ever-sophisticated Go2Mac Mount Vernon, NY Labs (TM), I was able to reproduce just those circumstances. A mere 24 hours after Micromat’s brand-new Drive 10 arrived on my doorstep, I was staring at a dreaded “This drive is unreadable” error message on my TiBook. And because the Go2Mac labs works harder to create real-world environments for our tests, my PowerBook picked — I mean, uh, I picked — the afternoon of a tech run for a music performance involving that same drive. I scrambled for my Drive 10 CD immediately!

Micromat’s Drive 10 is the first disk utility to be able to run natively under OS X. (Utilities from Alsoft and Symantec will repair X drives, but only from OS 9.) Micromat has been churning out fantastic diagnostic utilities for the Mac for 12 years, however, including the first-ever diagnostic launched into space. So fans of TechTool Pro’s sophisticated diagnostic routines will be right at home with Drive 10. While Drive 10 offers only a subset of TechTool’s capabilities, omitting virus protection, degramentation, and some less-used hardware disgnostics, the features most important to most users are included: disk repair and recovery, including regular volume structure backup under X.

Do you need Drive 10? Does Steve Jobs like turtlenecks? The unfortunate truth is, it’s very easy to wind up with a corrupted volume structure. Ironically, much of the need for Drive 10 has to do with our continued reliance on OS 9. A system crash in OS 9 can easily corrupt volume structures. But because we live in a dual-operating system world now, our problems are twofold: many of us can’t avoid booting into OS 9 regularly, increasing the potential for these damaging crashes, while OS X places a new volume structure on our drive, making previous disk utility programs inadequate.

Enter Drive 10. Drive 10 performed flawlessly in my real-world catastrophe. I popped in the bootable CD and within minutes I was back up and running. Drive 10 is possibly the most elegant drive repair application I’ve ever seen. The click-and-forget-it interface easily facilitates a comprehensive behind-the-scenes diagnostic. (And, thanks to gorgeous Aqua interface design, it looks good doing it!) Best of all is its volume rebuild capability, which quickly and easily rescues ailing drives like mine. A helpful dialog box offered to replace my existing volume structure with a new one, with a detailed comparison of the old one with the one replacing it. I clicked “replace” and within a few seconds my drive was good as new, booting back up.

The genius of Drive 10 is that Micromat has taken the features we most loved in Tech Tool and seemlessly introduced them to the native OS X environment, while we barely notice all the behind-the-scenes work that made it all possible.

The only oversight in Drive 10 is the lack of a defragment capability, useful to those working in pro digital audio and video. I’d love to be able to defrag drives in the background while working in X. This is less important to the average user, but it would definitely be worthy of a 1.1 upgrade to Drive 10.

There are many supposed “must-have” utilities that you can get by without. This isn’t one of them. If you use OS X, get Drive 10. The next catastrophe is just around the corner, and Drive 10 will let you get through it with all the panache of OS X. Turn those drive blues to Aqua.

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