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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Review: Alsoft DiskWarrior 5.0 (OS X)

Review: Alsoft DiskWarrior 5.0 (OS X)
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May 10, 2015, 08:40 AM
 
For veteran Mac users, the mere mention of the name of DiskWarrior often brings stories of multiple bacon-saving incidents or helping in the resurrection of drives and data nearly written off from across the last three decades. There are few Mac programs that have earned genuine "legendary" status, but DiskWarrior, from tiny outfit Alsoft, is one of them. Recently the company released a version 5.0 for modern Macs after a nearly five-year hiatus since version 4.4, but in the meantime much as changed. DW is still awesome at what it does -- but is what it does as relevant now as it once was? Check out our review to find out.

     
donmontalvo
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May 11, 2015, 08:27 AM
 
Remind me again why we need this? The fact that we've been getting by just fine without it sort of gives a hint as to whether its even necessary anymore. One last hoorah?
     
bdmarsh
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May 11, 2015, 10:21 AM
 
Just because you don't use it, doesn't mean that others don't use it frequently to recover data from failing drives (or just corrupted - like after repeated power failures) Disk Warrior will sometimes allow for a much nicer recovery than some of the other tools in less time.
     
OldMacGeek
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May 11, 2015, 11:00 AM
 
Don, that's just it. You *don't* need it - until you need it, that is. And then it is a lifesaver. Time Machine is great. However, it doesn't always work. CCC and Super Duper are great. Mike and Dave have programmed some winners, there, but you have to remember to back up. ChronoSync is wonderful, and I have been a user for about a decade.

All of these are tools. Just as you wouldn't use a crescent wrench as a hammer (OK, bad analogy. Sometimes you do if it's the closest thing), you want the right tool for the right job. What Al has created and maintained over the years is a very good and very specific tool. Its job? To recover as much data by rewriting your directory tree. What it does is magic to a failing or corrupted drive. Remember - all the other backup utilities will continue to back up your corrupted information. Is that really what you want?
     
donmontalvo
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May 11, 2015, 01:22 PM
 
bdmarsh I think the takeaway for consumers is (1) back up your data, and (2) if "repeated power failures" is an issue, get an uninterruptible power supply (UPC).

For enterprise users, critical data should be backed up to servers.
     
chimaera
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May 11, 2015, 02:58 PM
 
We all know friends who do not have backups. When one of those fail, Disk Warrior remains one of my standard weapons.

Apple could help with backups if every Mac had an internal bay for a 2nd drive (or SSD). Making us buy externals doesn't work for the tech-illiterate. While it does put money in our pockets, the pain for the illiterate is disproportionate.
     
bdmarsh
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May 11, 2015, 03:03 PM
 
well sure, in a perfect world all of those would happen. I do tech work, so all to frequently I see the cases where backups haven't happened in months (or never), where because they aren't "frequent" power failures, they dont' think anything bad will happen (or people intentionally turning off the computer by holding down the power button until it goes off). You name it. Personally I recommend at least 2 backups of any critical files - something easy like TimeMachine, then another off-site, and for really important stuff - a CD/DVD/Blu-ray that is then put into secure storage - but few will do more than one local backup (which is then sometimes stolen or damaged in the same incident that affected the computer)

Enterprise should know better, but still hear horror stories from enterprise (well, no one checked the backups in the past year, looks like we don't have any, or the tapes are corrupted, etc...)
     
OldMacGeek
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May 11, 2015, 03:04 PM
 
"(1) Back up your data" As discussed, if you are backing up the existing directory corruption, hilarity will *not* ensue.
"(2) ... get an uninterruptible power supply (UPC)" UPS devices are great! Until the power goes out at night, and then your machine shuts off when the battery drains or dies.

Again, this product is apparently not for you. Congratulations! However, for people like me who are called to sites where - despite repeated instructions to backup, use UPS devices, etc. - things still happen. When this does happen, this utility can (and has been) the difference between saying you're sorry but there is nothing you can do or being a hero to the customer. Guess which one I choose? This is one of many tools in my arsenal. It's not a tool I use every day (like Time Machine, ChronoSync, etc.), but I do use it.
     
donmontalvo
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May 11, 2015, 04:24 PM
 
OldMacGeek For (1) a backup system should not be a clone, it should keep versions of your data. That's what Time Machine is for. Cloning is as useless as RAID, when it comes to backups. For (2), the idea behind a UPS is to enable the computer to gracefully shut down. This is a great thread.
     
donmontalvo
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May 11, 2015, 04:27 PM
 
I should also mention, along with carrying a bunch of tools around, it is also in end users' best interests to be taught best practices. Time Machine isn't difficult to use, and now that it supports multiple drives, its easy enough to have rotating backups that include versions (the bigger the drive the farther back you can go). All valid points, my intent isn't to mock anyone's ideas, just to stress the idea of working smart(er), to avoid data loss. All of us who support users (home, enterprise, etc.), owe it to users to teach them.
     
Spheric Harlot
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May 11, 2015, 04:29 PM
 
A bootable clone is extremely useful when downtime costs real money or presents a significant risk (such as for stage productions or studio time) — it enables you to continue working almost immediately.

It is NOT an alternative to regular, versioned backups, but rather an additional short-term emergency solution.
     
Spheric Harlot
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May 11, 2015, 04:30 PM
 
Those who wonder what this software is for:

Be thankful that you've never needed it. Be very thankful.

I am historically indebted to DiskWarrior in a Big Way, though it hasn't been needed on my systems in almost a decade.
     
donmontalvo
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May 11, 2015, 04:37 PM
 
Spheric Harlot point taken, I meant to differentiate between clone/RAID vs backups, as you did, very important for folks to understand the difference.
     
Spheric Harlot
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May 11, 2015, 05:16 PM
 
Oh, I wasn't disagreeing, at all!
     
amiller77
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May 11, 2015, 11:08 PM
 
After working with my daughter's 5 mo. old Samsung SSD, pulled from her 2009 MacBook (in external case) so I could then run Migration Assistant to her new 12" MacBook, it became corrupted after several Migration Assistant (infamous) stall-outs, with a permission "repair" while connected to my MacBook (but the decisive blow may have been changing several files' permissions manually to "Read & Write"- forget which files and why I did), it became too corrupted to boot from anymore. Drive Genius 3 couldn't fix it. TechTool Pro 7 couldn't fix it either (if it had been preinstalled it probably could have, but who can afford to pre-install on all of your family member's computers). So, I decided to give D.W. 5 a try, since I qualified for an upgrade price (from D.W.3). Arrived much sooner than they said it would, and fixed her drive quickly so it can be booted from again. I guess I got my money's worth this time. I'm one, however, who has grown tired of paying out $50 to $100 for Disk repair programs that fail me, &/or have become too obsolete for my OS version or current MacBook (no optical drive, for example) when I finally need them. I wrote Alsoft about that concern ~1&1/2 years ago, still waiting for a version that could fix a MacBook without a Optical Drive before upgrading. Better late then never. If, however, after OS X 11 comes out, they want another $50 so D.W. will still work, I'm going to scream. Oops. Time Machine backup just failed (just now) -AGAIN! (every ~6 mo.'s, leading to reformatting the drive). Running D.W.5 at the same time to rebuild it's directory to see if it would prevent this very occurrance. We'll see. (This is why I also backup with Carbon Copy Cloner every week or so.) Update: D.W.5 rebuilt my Time Machine drive's directory, and it seems to be working again.
( Last edited by amiller77; May 12, 2015 at 12:32 AM. Reason: Additional Info)
     
EconTech
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May 12, 2015, 09:08 AM
 
As the maker of ChronoSync, we'd love for everyone to use it for all their backup needs. But to use it instead of a great disk repair tool such as DiskWarrior? That's not what we'd recommend. Sure, if you just had to choose between a backup program and disk repair, backup should win out. It covers you for much more than disk corruption. However, you really should have both!

We deal with users all the time that experience some form of file system corruption. If Disk Utility can't handle it, their only option (short of buying DiskWarrior and hoping it solves their problem) is to reformat and restore from backup. If your backup is complete and current, the only casualty of this is time - perhaps very precious time. If something like DiskWarrior is in your tool chest, however, you could run it first and see if it can repair things. If it's successful, you'll be on your way in far less time and with far less anxiety than having to restore from backup.
     
donmontalvo
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May 13, 2015, 04:51 PM
 
ChronoSync, Carbon Copy Cloner, SuperDuper! are all great for cloning.
     
besson3c
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May 13, 2015, 06:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by donmontalvo View Post
OldMacGeek For (1) a backup system should not be a clone, it should keep versions of your data. That's what Time Machine is for. Cloning is as useless as RAID, when it comes to backups. For (2), the idea behind a UPS is to enable the computer to gracefully shut down. This is a great thread.
If your directory information is corrupted, neither Time Machine nor a clone will work around this. Time Machine might, if you happen to have a backup that occurred before the directory corruption, but sometimes this corruption can occur months before it is noticed.

DiskWarrior is great, but it kind of sucks having to buy it just because HFS+ is a shitty file system. It's like owning adult diapers.
     
donmontalvo
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May 13, 2015, 08:19 PM
 
besson3c the idea behind versioned backups is to be able to roll back to a previous version. Directory corruption has been a non-issue since Diskwarrior disappeared. Diskwarrior is back and directory corruption is once again an issue. I realize Alsoft folks have to eat, but the marketing hype is a little overboard. Don't get me wrong, I used Diskwarrior for years, until I got into the habit of backing up to multiple sources. No tool can compensate for not having good backups.
     
Spheric Harlot
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May 14, 2015, 02:11 AM
 
It has not been a "non-issue".

The default troubleshooting approach has merely turned into "erase and restore" rather than "try and fix".

And frankly, I think nuking and restoring is a safer approach.

The thing is that serious directory corruption is often a sign of deeper underlying problems - faulty S-ATA cables, or recently on my own machine, defective RAM. Fixing the directory was not a useful tool, other than to prove that corruption was immanent to the machine (which was equally clear after a clean set-up.)

It CAN help to fix the directory when trying to get valid non-backed-up data off the drive, though.

It's just one tool - rarely necessary for anybody, but when it manages to save your bacon, hell it was worth it.
     
bdmarsh
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May 14, 2015, 10:53 AM
 
Diskwarrior never disappeared, used version 4.x a handful of times over the past few years for specific cases where it was the best tool to get the data that was needed (sometimes only a few files that never made it to the backup)

Its ability to preview a disk that can't be repaired and then copy/clone from the preview has allowed complete recoveries a few times from a damaged disk (the failed parts of the disk seemed to only affect the directory, not the files)
     
oesterle
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May 24, 2015, 02:01 AM
 
DiskWarrior is worth every penny. I technically support a music professional whose tools and content live on a 4TB external RAID. Recently this system had directory corruption. Erasing it and restoring from Time Machine was one option, but would have taken a whole day. DiskWarrior fixed every problem in 5 minutes. It's incredibly fast, even on large drives/arrays with hundreds of thousands of files. Alsoft has an unparalleled understanding of Mac OS file systems.
     
besson3c
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May 24, 2015, 02:15 AM
 
Originally Posted by donmontalvo View Post
besson3c the idea behind versioned backups is to be able to roll back to a previous version. Directory corruption has been a non-issue since Diskwarrior disappeared. Diskwarrior is back and directory corruption is once again an issue. I realize Alsoft folks have to eat, but the marketing hype is a little overboard. Don't get me wrong, I used Diskwarrior for years, until I got into the habit of backing up to multiple sources. No tool can compensate for not having good backups.

Directory corruption will exist for as long as HFS+ does, whether Diskwarrior exists or not, period. It's a fundamentally flawed filesystem that silently corrupts over time, and backups don't always help if your backup is corrupt.
     
langmedia
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Apr 28, 2016, 02:44 PM
 
Hi Guys,
I see it is an old post...but I hope somebody can help me. I used DiskWarrior today with success on one of my hard drives. But now I've tried to use on another one with two partitions. At the end of the process it wrote, "you have no enough space to do that... with any interruption your drive can be unavailable. I didn't dare press continue, so pressed cancel instead of. Caused the worst: DW is not responding and I can't see my drive.
There is any chance to see and save my data?
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Apr 28, 2016, 03:03 PM
 
You'd really have to take that up with DiskWarrior. However, make sure that you're running the newest version of the utility.
     
chimaera
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Apr 28, 2016, 03:23 PM
 
Yes, he may be using DW 4. I ran into that problem, where it became unresponsive after completing or aborting a task. Though it never caused any corruption when that happened. DW 5 made that issue go away.
     
   
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