Sunday, March 27, 2011

Software Review: Drive Genius

Drive Genius 3 is ProSoft Engineering's latest version of its drive manipulation and maintenance application. If you can do it to a hard drive, Drive Genius supports it with an attractive and intuitive interface. The program requires an Intel Mac running Leopard and 512 MB of RAM as well as a DVD drive for some functions.

The program has two basic components. First is DrivePulse. Drive Pulse runs as a background app constantly checking all your hard drives for basic problems relating to drive and file integrity. This early warning system is optional and doesn't work well when someone isn't an administrator of their computer. For users who absolutely rely on their computer, DrivePulse will help detect small problems before they become big problems. In particular, the fact it can monitor your locally attached Time Machine backup really helps prevent data loss.

The main program includes a suite of utilities that goes way beyond the basic initialization, repair, secure erase and partitioning that Apple's Disk Utility offers. Although most of these functions have to be run off another computer or mounted via a DVD, Drive Genius has it's proprietary "DriveSlim" function that can help shrink a drive that is overrun with unnecessary language files (called "localizations") as well as remove bloated code that won't run on the selected system (primarily intel vs. non-intel systems). Many functions cannot be performed off a booted volume and you may have to download a bootable DVD for an extra fee if the shipped version of Drive Genius doesn't support your computer. While the fee is only $5.00, it is nonetheless annoying.

Typical of most drive programs, Drive Genius includes functions to benchmark, clone, defrag and edit sectors. Most of Drive Genius's function could be cobbled together with third party and Apple's utilities, but with Drive Genius you get centralized support and a easy to follow pdf manual. All utilities are presented in an extremely stylized and Mac-like interface that is most reminiscent of Apple's Cover Flow combined with multi-colored graphs. The program's key functions are 64-bit, making it much more efficient for longer operations. According to ProSoft, Apple's own Geniuses use Drive Genius as part of a ProCare yearly tuneup.

Pros: Extensive suite of utilities attractively presented and easy to use
Cons: Many functions require booting off a DVD or external drive, may have to pay extra fee for bootable DVD image.

4 out of 5 Dogcows