As most of you know, the Mac OS is a UNIX-based operating system. UNIX systems have a way of maintaining themselves through scheduled maintenance routines that clean up a variety of system logs and temporary files. These automated scripts generally run in the wee hours of the morning (somewhere between 3am and 5am). However, if your Mac is turned off or in sleep mode during these hours, these maintenance routines will not run.
A healthy Mac is a regularly maintained Mac. So if you don’t leave your Mac on and awake over night, it’s best to run these maintenance routines on a regular basis.
You can do this manually by typing the following into a Terminal session:
sudo periodic daily weekly monthly
Using Maintenance Applications
There are a number of 3rd party applications that do this work (and more) for you. Some of these are free, some cost. Check them out:
My current preference is Cocktail, which has a free version and a paid version.
I’d like to hear from folks who have other opinions and experience with these types of applications.
Macaroni does what Cocktail does plus you can schedule when the chron scripts are run.
The statement “However, if your Mac is turned off or in sleep mode during these hours, these maintenance routines will not run.” is not (no longer?) true. The automated scripts WILL run at the next moment the OS is awake and running. This can be verified by a Dashboard widget named Maintidget. SWAG: This may be an enhancement by the Mac OS X system. Anyone know for sure?
OnyX rocks the house.
Don’t have a point of comparison to the rest, simply because OxyX works and haven’t needed anything else.
If you’re running Mac OS X 10.4 or later, system maintenance routines will run either on schedule or at the first available opportunity following a scheduled run. There is no need to leave your system running at night nor to trigger the maintenance routines either manually or via third-party utilities. This convenience comes from Apple’s implementation of launchd as a replacement for cron.
BTW, both Onyx and especially Cocktail are invasive, overkill utilities. Beware. If you feel you must run a comprehensive ‘clean-up’ utility, take a look at the system friendly and simple YASU from Jim Mitchell Designs.
In general, the only janitorial thing you should run is a permissions repair every few months or so. The best single troubleshooting procedure is a Safe Boot. No third-party hacks or utilities required.
Keep it clean, folks. Don’t pollute your systems with hacks, haxies, and magic bullet utilities and you’ll have stable, fast computers.