Support Blog

Predicting Hard Drive Failure

Here at Micromat, as you might imagine, we're pretty good at destroying drives in our computer testing lab. The rigors of software development, as well as testing Volume Rebuilds and Optimizations often take a toll. Some of the machines in the office are on their third or even fourth internal hard drives. More often than not, a SMART warning gives us the early warning we need to keep our Macs running.


A while back, one of the Mac minis in our lab was starting to boot up more slowly than it used to. After checking the drive in the Mac mini using Drive Scope, we found that it was reporting a SMART warning. On further inspection, the drive was reporting over 100 uncorrectable ATA errors and a number of pending relocated sectors, indicating that the drive could soon begin reporting bad blocks. And sure enough, within a month the Surface Scan test in Techtool Pro was reporting bad blocks. We were able to replace the rotational hard drive in this older laptop with an SSD, so it starts up faster than ever.

Read more: Predicting Hard Drive Failure

Is Your Backup Current?

You have probably noticed that Techtool Pro reminds you to back up your computer each time you launch it. (Unless of course, you've clicked the "Do not show this message again" checkbox.) In addition to being a good idea to back up in normal circumstances, it is an especially good idea if it could be a while before you have easy access to an Apple or Apple-authorized repair facility. While Techtool Pro's volume and partition repairs are great for logical problems, physical damage cannot be repaired in software.


When it comes to your backups, go with redundancy. If at all possible, try to have more than one backup available. Time Machine, built into macOS, is a great option. To add redundancy, consider the Techtool Pro cloning tool to make an exact copy of your startup disk to another drive or disk image that you can save in the cloud. It might even be a good idea to have an unused external solid state drive to use as a startup disk in a pinch.

Read more: Is your backup up to date?

What is Techtool Protection?

This is one of the most common questions that we get about Techtool Pro. When Techtool Pro first launches or updates, it asks if you would like to install the Techtool Protection system preference pane. This (optional) system preference extends the functionality of Techtool Pro and provides some continuous monitoring features.


Techtool Pro provides some data recovery options for rotational drives formatted Mac OS Extended. Installing Techtool Protection and enabling Trash History and Directory Backups on any such drives allows Techtool Pro to be most effective at recovering data, should that be necessary.

Read more: What is Techtool Protection?

Getting the most out of your Protogo devices


Techtool Pro's Protogo tool is useful for creating a dedicated diagnostic device that you can use to start up your Mac (and other Macs compatible with your OS) for troubleshooting and repair. To get the most out of your Protogo device, it is important that you choose the right drive.

The faster the drive you use for your Protogo device, the better your experience will be. For the absolute best results, use an external SSD connected via Thunderbolt or USB 3.1. If you are using a thumb drive, they vary very widely in terms of performance. In our experience, the very best performers (which can still be found for less than $20) are those which utilize a small SSD inside the thumb drive. Some such examples can be found here. At the minimum, it is best to use USB 3 or 3.1 USB sticks, even on USB 2 equipped Macs, because the memory they use is still faster when connected via USB 2. (And many USB 2 devices use memory that is much slower than the connection itself.)

Read more: Getting the most out of your Protogo device

Catalina's Secret Disk

In macOS Catalina, your startup disk has a secret. When looking at a hard drive in the Finder, a single icon to represent that volume. In Catalina, your startup disk is now comprised of two volumes, but will still show up as one when viewed from the Finder. Under the hood, the system now resides on a read-only volume, while your data is stored on a separate volume. Catalina uses some tricks to present the two as one whole volume.

Catalina Disks

When using Techtool Pro 12 with Catalina, the Volume Structures test or Volume Rebuild tool will list both the system and data partitions. The read-only system volume will be the name of your startup disk, while the data volume will be the name of the startup disk with the word Data added to the end of the volume name.

Read more: Catalina's Secret Disk

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