Hard drives are an important part of our computer lifestyle — everything is stored on one eventually (unless you have one of those flashy new SSD ones, in which case I’m very jealous!). Therefore, managing and maintaining them should be a top priority, although it rarely is.
You may need to partition, erase, restore or simply maintain one. In any of these cases Drive Genius 2 from ProSoft engineering claims it will be your one stop shop for all things disk management. This is a tough claim, especially as Leopard ships with a fairly complete disk management application in disk utility anyway.
Let’s start with the good. This application is one of the most powerful I have used in terms of disc management, maintenance and optimization. The company claims that this is the tool that Apple uses to cure your sick mac at the genius bar, and I can believe them. There is clearly some very heavy duty code behind the scenes. Not only that but it has a huge feature list. You can partition your drive; shred it; gather info on it; initialize it (which is a fancy name for quickly erasing it); duplicate it; perform integrity checks; repair it; rebuild it; verify it; repair its permissions; check its smart status; defrag it; benchtest it; scan its sectors and even directly edit those sectors.
To say it’s feature complete is an understatement. Although it offers a lot that Disk Utility already gives us, it offers a whole lot more besides. As far as I could tell each of these was performed well and efficiently. As I mentioned, the engine of this app has clearly been very well developed. I did not, however, check benchmarks with other disk utilities but it certainly didn’t feel like a slouch.
However, there is one huge downside to this app. That is its interface.
I have a huge problem with over-designed interfaces and this is one such interface. When you start the program you are treated to a 360° view of several icons that all look like drives, with nothing labeled. When you go to hover over one to see what it does, your view point starts to fly towards it. Not quickly, just enough speed to move your mouse cursor away from where you are going to click.
Once zoomed in the names are displayed over the icons, which is great, but if your mouse moves just the slightest bit downwards off an icon you fly out, this time at speed, back to your original camera view. So navigation is slow, inefficient and irritating. More than that, there are more icons tucked behind the camera which you can only access by pressing an arrow, which if you are on one side of the view you can't even see!
This theme of useless, elaborate transitions is continued throughout the interface. Mercifully once in a section you can switch directly to another using a drop-down menu on the toolbar, but when choosing a new item you have to wait for the previous view to fade out and the new one to transition in. I found myself just getting frustrated. I am doing work on a hard drive not playing a computer game. There has been much debate over eye candy and the Mac for a while now; I think in this case it certainly has been taken too far.
Here is the weird thinking that I can't get my head around. This is an app with a very professional feature set, yet its interface feels like a toy. Surely a simple, more functional interface would be more beneficial to the application.
If you are in need of some serious hard drive software then check out Drive Genius and see if it is what you’re after, but be warned — it’s priced at $99.