MAC Diagnostics

Draft: Comments Welcomed.

We assume you have an Intel Apple MAC Computer
from 2008 or later.
You may just want a quick checkup or may be it’s behaving strangely and needs fixing. clearly define “Strange” before applying remedies.
I like to run diagnostics BEFORE attempting any fix so I have something to compare the results to objectively.

This article is not about iPod, iPads, etc…
So you may have any of: MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, iMac, etc etc. that one would check up on now & then even if things SEEMED to be Okay.

Firstly, IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM so you know what it is you are trying to fix, do not do as I do & rush ahead assuming you know what to do! “Slow Start Up?” Be specific.
“Three minutes from cold-start before you can open any application” ? that’s specific. Time it. Note it!
Only when first started? or when starting from Sleep mode? Note that. If you have nothing to compare to then you won’t know if your Fixes worked : ) and. Do One Thing At A Time and Check Results.

Three pieces of software are  required, all free,
but only one is part of the MAC software suite already provided to you.  What we will check is:

1) the File Storage System on your Hard Drive or SSD (Solid State Drive) which is the place all data and applications are store
using built in MAC “Disk Utility”

2) The hard drive hardware itself using DRIVEDX. This is free for 7 days, which is enough to see if there are HARDWARE issues with the hard drive

3) Temperatures of the components within the system. Vents can get clogged, fans fail or stick and more. the MAC will slow itself down to compensate. Saves Burn Out but no good for day to day work!

The first uses the built in “Disk Utility”

1) How to repair a disk with Disk Utility

Open Disk Utility (actual options vary slightly per MAC)
Under: Applications > Utilities, or [cmd]+[space] keys..
Search: Disk Utility.
Select the volume you wish to run First Aid on.
This could be a external hard drive
Click on First Aid.
Click Run. This will start the verification and repair process.
When Disk Utility has run its checks you will see a drop-down sheet showing the status. You can click on the triangle at the bottom to see more information.
If no errors were found you will see a green check at the top of the drop-down sheet.
If there were errors Disk Utility will attempt to repair them. (In older versions you had to manually choose Repair Disk).

If Disk Utility is unable to repair the drive, or it believes that the disk is about to fail it will warn you. If its GREEN its Okay! there are arcane diagnostics but the most prominent result returned is:
YOu have Backups Anyway, Right? : )
Newer MACs may need you to use a
special mode called Recovery Mode . the MAC will tell you if thsi is required.

2) HARD DRIVE S.M.A.R.T Diagnostics
This uses the 7 day trial “Free” version of Drive Diagnostics (DRIVEDX) to report on the hardware status of you hard drive, and is NOT related to the file system on that drive which was mentioned in (1) above.
Note: you will need to know how to Download and Run software to do this which is no covered here.
You do not need to pay for up to 7 days unless you want to.
Running this software needlessly DOES NOT do any harm- It is simply reading error codes stored upon the hard drive, much like your “Check Engine Light” on your car requires a Code Reader.
This is that Code Reader for MAC .
It cannot Fix anything, it can only tell you the hard drive is failing, etc….. Or not.

Finally– the bane of all Hardwares- Overheating. This free app
MACS Fan Control
will show you ALL of the half dozen temperature sensors present on your MAC and any fans, and the speed with which they are running. It’s in Centigrade– Anything over 70 degrees C is cause for concern, as are any fans running at zero RPM. Avoid the temptation to change any settings- Please just us it oin it Diagnostic mode.
Thsi is where you blow out the vents with compressed air. By the way- Npthign coudl be worse whatn using a laptop on your laptop or on cuchions and blankets, these ac as heat insulators and may even block air vents! Lay it on a rigid board and put THAT on the bed or oyur lap.