Will Snow Leopard eat DiskWarrior? - Macenstein

Will Snow Leopard eat DiskWarrior?

One of the many big features in the forthcoming “featureless” update to Mac OS X (aka Snow Leopard) is the move to the ZFS file system. I had heard that ZFS was officially the “shiznit” two or three years ago when the rumor mill had forecast ZFS support in Leopard was an almost certainty. Well, the “almost” won that round, but it appears Snow Leopard may finally deliver what “regular” Leopard couldn’t.

What’s ZFS, and why do I care?

ZFS is a new (relatively speaking) open source file format created by Sun Microsystems that will likely eventually replace Apple’s current HFS scheme, and it promises to deliver a great many “data integrity” improvements to the OS that on the surface look to make the owning of a 3rd party disk repair utility (such as the awesome DiskWarrior by Alsoft) unnecessary.

According to Apple, the 128-bit ZFS file system “includes advanced features such as storage pooling, data redundancy, automatic error correction, dynamic volume expansion, and snapshots.” This means the system is able to check each file for data corruption and make repairs on the fly, without any user involvement. The “snapshots” feature works similar to Time Machine, monitoring your system every 10 seconds for changes, and adding them to a backup image. Furthermore, ZFS uses a copy-on-write transactional object model which further ensure the integrity of all data as it is written to the drive, virtually eliminating the chance of data corruption.

So, what does this mean for repair utilities such as DiskWarrior, TechTool Pro, and the like? Will they still be needed come next year, or will Snow Leopard eat their lunch? Well, the future isn’t clear. First of all, Apple only lists the ZFS file system as being a feature for Snow Leopard Server, not the consumer version. Secondly, while the rumor community fully expects Apple to make the full switch to ZFS at some point, for the moment it appears Snow Leopard will only be offering “support” for the file system, not switching to it entirely. And of course, there’s that disclaimer on the bottom of Snow Leopard’s feature page which says “All features on this page are subject to change”.

However, one thing IS sure: As long as there are computers, there will be computer problems, and certainly DiskWarrior (and other utilities) may very well evolve alongside Mac OS X to fill in the new holes that Apple misses. But it certainly is looking like the majority of the issues DiskWarrior currently so ably corrects may potentially not be much of an issue come next year.

I am a big fan of DiskWarrior, and it has saved my butt more than once (DiskWarrior 4 received Macenstein‘s only 10 out of 10 rating) but I would be lying if I said I would be sad to see the need for it go. And I know for me, the idea of no longer needing to purchase a yearly upgrade for a 3rd party disk repair suite (alongside the rumored speed improvements) will go a long way towards convincing me to upgrade to Snow Leopard when it arrives.

7 Responses to “Will Snow Leopard eat DiskWarrior?”
  1. Jim says:

    Owning DiskWarrior and other DiskUtility apps is already unnecessary if you have any clue of what you’re doing… and if you don’t have a clue, then you probably shouldn’t be using a Disk Utility app to begin with 😉

  2. Eytan says:

    Just to clarify, Diskwarrior did NOT require a yearly update….
    It required a new version only once in OS X days, and that was for version 4 with Tiger because of ACLs. Most upgrades are a free download. If you need to update to a new CD because you got a new computer, they will charge you only $20. The product has saved me many times, but I certainly have not bought it every year!

  3. JM says:

    Evolution in the computer industry ultimately creates obsolescence, making way for a new generation of systems and related problems.

    Disk Warrior has been a god-send in a number of instances. Yet, I too would like to see its present configuration become obsolete.

  4. Chris says:

    Scavenging a corrupted and unimportable zpool is still something that is not in Sun’s code, so maybe DW could step in and do that. But that would be a *complete* rewrite of DW, so maybe someone else will get there first.

  5. Hindsight says:

    “Owning DiskWarrior and other DiskUtility apps is already unnecessary if you have any clue of what you’re doing… and if you don’t have a clue, then you probably shouldn’t be using a Disk Utility app to begin with ;-)”

    Oh please. Not true my friend. DW is a tool, and a nice one. Do you know how to manually repair a directory? When some [jackass] pulls the plug on the surge strip _while you’re doing a back-up_ and trashes BOTH source and destination directories- can you go in and fix it yourself? Yes this actually happened, and I’d like to think I know what I’m doing. DW fixed both drives and saved 2 days worth of irreplaceable live competitive event video footage.

  6. UserSpace says:

    DW exists to solve a specific problem: damage to hard drive directory structures that prohibit a drive from mounting.

    ZFS is a different kettle of fish. Who knows if it will have the vulnerabilities that lead to DW building a business. I think zfs is typical enterprise vaporware from SUN — a bloated idea delivered in a buggy implementation. ZFS will do everything except make me coffee in the morning.

    We’ve been hearing about it for how long? 2 years? 3 years? Bah! A Drobo offers all that ZFS dreams to offer. And its available NOW….

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