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First Look: DiskWarrior 4.1, file and folder utility

updated 12:05 am EST, Fri February 15, 2008

First Look at DiskWarrior

Operating systems have many file- and directory-level settings that are invisible to the typical users. There are files that govern the location of data, invisible files that relate to the trash or other system-essential files, permissions, and so on. Even though these files are unseen, they are none-the-less important, and a minor corruption in these files could potentially lead to a disastrous experience. DiskWarrior 4.1 brings its renowned volume repair methods to Leopard, which helps users keep their drives healthy.

DiskWarrior is well known for being a simple, but powerful maintenance utility, offering services such as directory rebuilding, file and folder repair, and hardware checking. Since DiskWarrior 4.0 was released, it is also capable of repairing disk permissions - system-level metadata that governs who can and can't access or edit files, one of the reasons that Mac OS X is so secure.

While Disk Utility, which is bundled with every Mac, is capable of performing a few of these functions, DiskWarrior is arguably more thorough, while also saving a bit of time by running concurrent tests.

The Directory tab simply contains two buttons: Graph and Repair. Also in the tab is a pulldown list of drives that can be examined and rebuilt by DiskWarrior. Once the appropriate disk has been selected, graphing will show you how many files are misplaced, or out of order, giving you an idea of how severely your drive needs to have its directory repaired. Rebuild consequently will repair this damage, and can sometimes be used to fix issues where a machine refuses to boot, or an application quits upon startup.

The Directory tab

Graphing a volume

There are a couple of exceptions to directory rebuilding, namely that DiskWarrior is not capable of rebuilding Windows-formatted volumes. Also, read-only volumes cannot be rebuilt (such as locked disks or optical media), but can be graphed to see if everything is in order.

Once the volume repair is underway, DiskWarrior goes through approximately 10 steps to verify and complete its repairs. Eventually, a reports window comes up to let you know what, if anything, is wrong with the volume. Should mass differences exist between the current volume and what DiskWarrior sees as being correct, you can hit the Preview button on the reports window to inspect the details personally. If everything appears to be fine, or if you trust DiskWarrior's assessment of the directory, clicking Replace will continue repairing the volume.

A rebuild in progress

An error report

Optimizing the directory

A successful rebuild!

DiskWarrior's file repair tab is similarly laid out, offering a pulldown menu for drive selection, as well as two checkboxes. These determine whether you want to check for file and folder damage, repair disk permissions, or both. Once the applicable items are selected, press Start and wait for the repairs to finish.

A rebuild in progress

Lastly, manual and automatic hard drive diagnostics can help you keep your eyes on the health of your drives. Manual diagnostics simply verify that the drive's built-in S.M.A.R.T. diagnostics check out, while automatic diagnostics will monitor the drive's health hourly, daily or weekly.

A rebuild in progress

A rebuild in progress

Overall, DiskWarrior is an asset to any Mac owner's toolkit, as it has, in my professional experience, saved more than a few users from a costly data recovery attempt. It's simple enough for anyone to use, but powerful. It's $100 price tag doesn't make it the least expensive drive utility on the market, but for the most part, it's the only one you need.

By Electronista Staff


  1. Tofino

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2005


    worth it

    in my personal experience the one that always does the job it's designed to do.

  1. Reggie Fowler

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Mar 2005


    Not Compatible!!!

    It doesn't support the new 2008 MacPro's. what good is it?

  1. Faceplant

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2003


    Hey, this is funny...

    ...did you see the disc name that was repaired? Fuchikoma? h**** bells, with a name like that, the disc is gonna crash!

  1. bhuot

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2003


    stupid question

    "It doesn't support the new 2008 MacPro's. what good is it?"

    Its great for everyone with important data who can't afford or don't need a Mac Pro.

  1. Deal

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Apr 2001


    First Stop

    This is the first utility I try when confronted with directory issues. Any tech who works on Macs should have this in their bag.

    I'm sure there will be a patch for the MacPro and Xserves soon. This is one app that you'll have to continue to upgrade as new models come out.

  1. GreenMnM

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Nov 2000


    support = boot?

    "It doesn't support the new 2008 MacPro's. what good is it?"

    While it's true that the current version of the CD will not boot one of the new Mac Pros, it doesn't mean you can't run DiskWarrior from another volume on a new Mac Pro. The only incompatibility is the fact that the CD won't boot the machine, you can still use DiskWarrior to repair one if you have another boot option.

  1. tonewheel

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: May 1999


    "Available Soon....."

    And Christmas is coming, too.

    Where's the 4.1 updater???

  1. somethinbaloo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2008



    I have found that tech tool pro 4 is much better than diskwarrior as it does the same and full hardware checking and numerous other things and its also used in apple applecares diagnostic tools and is now even used fortune 500 companies like bby, take it as you will on which program to use but tech tool is priced competitively and does more

  1. bennco

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2007



    A Fuchikoma (フチコマ) is a 1-man tank (walker/roller) used by members of Section 9 of the National Public Safety Commission in Masamune Shirow's manga Ghost in the Shell.

    I think it's a kick a** name.

  1. AllenHuffman

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 1999


    Saved me once!

    The previous X version saved my bacon after I bought Drive Genius (1.x) which couldn't fix it. I've been bummed DW didn't work under 10.5.x and I look forward to being able to download an update.

    If I had DW earlier, I could have possibly saved 200GB of files that got overwritten after I "thought" the drive was repaired by another tool :(

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