Posted by: theovalich | December 1, 2008

Apple pays the price of popularity

Apple zealots (one class above fanboys) are often hanging to two threads in every discussion that involves the difference between other platforms and their “perfect OS”. These two are engraved into heads of many, but sadly, neither of them is true.

  • Macs don’t have viruses
  • Macs don’t need to defragment the hard disk drive

First and foremost, Mac OS X is based upon UNIX operating system (Berkeley Software Distribution or BSD with parts from NetBSD and FreeBSD – all from Nextstep era), thus it is an operating system subject to security vulnerabilities such as viruses, Trojan horses, hacking, brute force cracking and so on. Before Apple switched to Intel and begun to gain serious market share, hackers and crackers weren’t exactly interested in the platform.

According to Stephen Withers of ITWire fame, Apple recently started to update its knowledge base recommending that users start using anti-virus software for their OS, the Mac OS X. Sadly, we see this as a beginning of the trend, and it is only a matter of time before Mac users start to need complete internet protection from 3rd party software manufacturers.
Second misconception is that you don’t need defragmenting the hard drive, because the “system does not need it”. EVERY hard drive (sans SSD) needs defragmenting in order to put frequently used files at the beginning of the hard drive. It is a the way how conventional hard disks work (they’re analog devices, after all), not file system based. There are some efforts in fragmentation-free file systems, but Apple isn’t one of them.

Back at the day, I was surrounded by Macs and users that kept them at “sacred ground”, banning my test lab or IT department from fixing them – yet we had to suffer through various instabilities (bombs were an everyday thing, especially if 2-3 software apps were loaded at the same time). After some Apple zealots left the company, all of the hard drives were defragmented and these machines gained a second life.
It was sad hearing brand new Mac Pros “scratching” the hard drive in every-day work – personally, I recommend TechTool Pro as the best collection of utilities for Apple platform. Alternatively, you can use iDefrag.

Bottom line is very simple: Mac is a machine just like every other computer or mechanism like cars, planes and yes, you can draw a comparison to humans. We need food and keep our maintenance (in our case, hygiene in order to keep the bad bacteria away), cars need food (fuel) and service (oil’n’stuff) and Macs need their maintenance too – defrag your hard drive and protect your operating system.

P.S. author of these lines is former/expired ACTC from Mac OS 8 era. Thus, any flame comment questioning author’s expertise through personal life attacks will be met with due diligence. Have a good one! :)

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