I have always been a fan of TechTool Pro. I got it on CD in my AppleCare box, and when version 5 came out, I begged Micromat to get me a NFR fast. After over half a year of begging, they finally sent me their latest and greatest. Perhaps my expectations were too high after those six months of waiting, but I am slightly disappointed. That doesn't mean TechTool Pro 5 isn't a good tool. It means there are at least equally good ones, except fro one set of features that is TechTool's unique selling proposition.The idea of an interface with car-like dashboard clocks telling you how your USB bus, CPUs, and FireWire bus is holding on, is a great idea. The only problem with such ideas is that if they stop at just showing you some rough representation of the bus’ health, it’s pretty useless. I think that’s a bit the problem with TechTool Pro 5’s interface. The USB bus clock shows me the USB bus is OK, but that information I can easily retrieve from watching my USB devices. If they work OK, I guess the bus will run fine too.
But what if I want to know why the USB devices suddenly stop working? Well, TechTool Pro 5 isn’t going to tell you. Same show stopper for FireWire. The manual explains why: you’ll need hardware tools that can actually measure how these buses perform and why they stop working. And those aren’t in the TechTool Pro 5 box. In my opinion, they should—even if that would cost more. Giving people the opportunity to buy TechTool Pro 5 with such hardware would probably make TTP5 the most asked for diagnosis tool on the planet.
Perhaps I’m dreaming, and those devices cost an arm and a leg, and are the size of a small car. OK, so the diagnostics in techTool Pro 5 are nicely designed, but they’re as useful as the previous version’s. What about the other features? eDrive still is in the package, you can still check and repair drive permissions, and volume directory. The problem with those repair tools is that I can also run those same repairs using Prosoft Engineering’s excellent Drive Genius. In fact, the latter is even more powerful then TechTool Pro 5. The same goes for DiskTools Pro. Of course, these two aren’t all round utilities like TechTool Pro 5.
For example, I can check my video memory with Techtool. I can’t do that with any disk drive utility, of course. However, even here I have doubts. What use is it that I can test video memory, if I am primarily interested in how the card performs?
TechTool Pro 5 may save your dayOf course, Micromat needs to make choices, and video performance wasn’t among them. I can live with that. But then the question arises: do you need TechTool Pro 5?
And the answer is that it depends. If you are using TechTool Pro 5 just like the previous version, you don’t need TechTool Pro 5 except for some system checking. But if you are going to use TechTool Pro 5’s new protection features, you’ll definitely need it.
Ultimately, and in my opinion, this is what sets TechTool Pro 5 apart, despite my earlier reservations. Running as modules to the System Preferences panel, TechTool Pro 5 protects you in the background against all sorts of catastrophes.
It will monitor disk usage, alerting you when you have used up drive space beyond a user-defined threshold. There’s a tab that enables you to back up your disk’s directory at regular intervals. A Trash history allows you to recycle accidentally trashed files, while a user-set interval SMART check runs a quick check on all disks connected to your computer using SATA or eSATA.
So, is TechTool Pro 5 invaluable a utility? Not if you are still running on a very old Power Mac like mine, where every CPU cycle counts twice. But if you’re running a moderately new Intel Mac, TechTool Pro 5 may save your day.