Optimizer X 4.7.4 (SOX) is a small utility written by MKD Software to designed to
speed up Mac OS X 10.2 or later machines. The GUI is a series of buttons for each
category and a text output window. The output window displays some UNIX command line
outputs. One has the option of prebinding executables, running the stock Mac OS X
maintenance scripts, modifying TCP and RAM settings, cleaning the system cache, and
modifying the underlying BSD subsystem permissions.
- Update Prebindings
- Updating executable library prebindings uses the OS X built-in update_prebinding
tool to update links between executables (applications) and their needed system libraries
to speed their launch time.
- Run System Maintenance
Scripts - Mac OS X has three built in system maintenance scripts, "daily",
"weekly" and "monthly". These scripts do things like update and
back up system databases, rotate and clean log files, and check security settings,
and are scheduled by the system to run at between 3AM and 5AM accordingly. The "Maintenance"
feature of SOX allows you to run these scripts manually.
- Clean System/Application
Cache - The Mac OS X system, as well as many individual applications, use a caching
system to generally speed up performance. This cache can become corrupted, however,
and cause "flaky" behavior, such as the "beach-ball effect."
Cleaning this cache will often eliminate this, and allow applications and system
processes to start fresh.
- Repair UNIX File
Permissions - UNIX uses a file permissions system to limit access to sensitive
files. These permissions frequently need maintenance, however, and can cause many
unpredictable problems. System Optimizer X uses the built-in DiskUtil binary to repair
your startup volume's file permissions.
- Optimization Your
Internet Connection - Internet Optimization adjusts TCP buffer sizes to their
optimum sizes for your type of internet connection. Advanced users can manually adjust
buffer sizes and turn packet delay and RFC1323 on and off.
- Compress Minimized
Windows - This feature enables the system built-in "window buffer compression"
to compress the RAM used for windows which are minimized in the dock. This will free
up RAM for other application and the system. Generally, window buffer compression
is not needed unless you have less than 256 megabytes of RAM. The downfall to using
window buffer compression is that minimized windows take a split-second longer to
pop out of the dock when they are clicked, if running on a slower machine
- Schedule Tasks
- System Optimizer X's schedule can be used to automatically run takes (update prebindings,
run system maintenance scripts, clean system/application cache, and repair file permissions)
at a custom time and at weekly, bi-weeky, monthly, or bi-monthly intervals.
- Optimize -
As a convenience, the "Optimize" feature queues tasks to run in succession:
repair file permissions, update prebindings, run system maintenance scripts, and
clean system and application cache.
The installer is the standard Mac OS X Installer. The product is installed in
six clicks and does not require an admin password. The software itself can be locked
so that only an admin can use it by clicking a lock icon.
The main SOX window provides a series of buttons for performing different system
optimizations, such as prebind executables, modify permissions, clean the system
cache and run the Mac OS X stock cron entries. It also provides tools for tweaking
your internet and memory settings, as well as scheduling tasks. When the "Optimize"
button is clicked, SOX performs the primary optimizations in sequence (repair permissions,
update prebindings, run maintenance scripts, and clean caches).
System Optimizer X - Main Window
The results are displayed in the text area below the SOX toolbar.
Log of Activity Performed by System Optimizer X
Experienced UNIX users
will see and understand the commands that SOX is actually running for each button
and its output. Users who have not used the CLI before will be perplexed at the output.
The cache cleaning and system maintenance panels are incompatible with FileVault.
When the user runs SOX for the first time, a popup window appears warning users of
System Optimizer X - Optimize Completion
Applications on a Macintosh running Mac OS X consists of the program itself and its
libraries. When an application is loaded, the OS will also load the libraries that
it needs into RAM. It does this by opening the library and putting it wherever there
is enough free space in RAM. Mac OS X then has to let the application know where
it is. In order to speed this up, Mac OS X can update a library to have it load in
a predetermined location. This is called prebinding. A prebound application will
simply put the library in the predetermined location and start running the application.
New software installed on a machine will not have had its binding updated for the
machine, so it makes sense to run a tool like System Optimizer X to update the prebindings
before running the software.
Mac OS X uses a set of directories to store temporary files that an application or
the OS needs to work with. This is referred to as a cache. Both the system at large
and each user has a cache. As an example, a user's cache would have a temporary file
for Apple Mail while the user is composing a message or a set of files for when the
user is making a movie with iDVD. A copy of a user's file is typically copied into
cache so that the file would not be corrupted in case of a system or application
crash. Over time, caches get larger and take up more disk space. The result is that
applications can slow down because they have to manage the cache. If the cache becomes
too large, Mac OS X has to spend a lot of time cleaning it out. The results in the
OS appearing sluggish while it is working hard to clean up. A tool like System Optimizer
X cleans the cache so that the system is more responsive.
UNIX systems, including Mac OS X, have a utility called cron that allows a user to
run programs at any given time when nearly any given internal. Mac OS X runs a series
of scripts everyday, week, and month that perform some basic housekeeping and record
gathering. By running these script using SOX, one can get a better idea of the current
Running the product on late model G4 systems with at least 512 MB of RAM does not
seem to speed the system up. Even on older hardware, SOX will only improve performance
by a few percent. System performance is better improved by increasing RAM, CPU speed,
or replacing the graphics adapter. Low end Mac OS X machines like the original G3
Macs or earlier Macs using XPostFacto to run Mac OS X would get the most mileage
out of SOX. By cleaning the cache and prebinding applications, a little bit more
power can be squeezed out of these older Macs.
The product documentation is light. The documentation is single README file that
gives a single paragraph to what each button means. The software sells for $12 USD,
which means that one is paying $2 each for 6 commands and a cron entry. The idea
of a central performance tweaker is a good idea, as it simplifies the process a great
deal. However, SOX does not do enough. Good additions to the program would be to
allow the user to change more system settings, like disabling the spinning down of
hard disks. Also, the permission fixer opens up security holes by freeing permissions
on files and removing option bits. In UNIX parlance, SOX removes the t bit on the
/Library/Caches directory and allow others to read the /private/var/log/wtmp file.
X is a utility designed to improved system performance by running a series of UNIX
commands to clean the system or tweak certain OS X settings. The system improvements
I experienced were very small. For RAM-starved older systems that fit the minimum
requirements for Mac OS X, SOX may provide more noticeable improvements in performance.
The GUI is basically a wrapper around 6 UNIX shell commands that are executed from
within the application when the optimizer runs. A centralized system optimizer is
a good idea, and this product has some potential, but it needs to incorporate some
more useful features to warrant the shareware fee. The product could easily etch
a place in a user's toolkit if the product was extended and improved significantly.
- Easy to use interface
- Centralized access
to system optimizations
- Very affordable
- Displays detailed
output of commands
- Limited functionality
- All settings/tasks
can be performed without utility
- File permission fixer
creates some security risks
- Documentation is
scant and not helpful for a novice user
- Command output would
confuse novice users
2 1/2 out of 5 Mice