Logo Rob Buckley – Freelance Journalist and Editor

Review: DiskWarrior 4.0

Review: DiskWarrior 4.0

It doesn’t do everything, but it’s the best at what it does

Alsoft’s DiskWarrior is one of the best tools around for recovering files lost to damaged disk drives. Unlike Data Rescue and the now-defunct Norton Disk Doctor, it works mainly by recreating damaged directories to recover lost files. This makes it the first tool you should grab from your kit when something goes wrong, since it can rescue far more files in a short space of time than other utilities.

Version 4.0 of DiskWarrior is its first Universal binary release, not that you’d know it at first since it takes an age to start up, even on an Intel Mac. However, in actual operation, it runs very quickly, thanks to a number of performance enhancements by developer Alsoft. New features include the ability to repair disk permissions, identify corrupt preference files, monitor compatible disks for impending failure and run file-repair routines to stop problems happening before they occur. Also new in version four is the novel ability to repair disk images, such as those used by FileVault. For the advanced user, it will also fix Tiger’s Access Control Lists and attribute B-trees if they’re damaged, preserving file names on case-sensitive disks.

In all these operations, it does what needs to be done and does them well. DiskWarrior quickly identified and fixed the test drive we used, with no unpleasant side effects. Ditto a damaged FileVault image we tried. This makes it a must-buy if you’ve ever faced problems in these areas.

Nevertheless, while these tools certainly make DiskWarrior a unique and valuable utility, it still fails to offer anything like the set of functions necessary to make TechTool Pro, et al, mere also-rans. Its perfunctory hardware test suite only works on internal ATA drives with built-in SMART capabilities, so our bog-standard external FireWire drive didn’t even register. With a freshly formatted drive, it could recover precisely no files because there were, of course, no directory problems that it could fix; Data Rescue and co will still need to be your fallback when accidental deletion, not drive damage is the root cause of your problems.

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