Even though Apple’s own Drive Setup software originally formatted your Mac’s internal drive, the formatter is unlikely to recognize any hard disks you add; it’s very picky about which drives it works with. One solution is FWB Software’s Hard Disk ToolKit 3.0.1, a collection of disk-driver tools that support hardware from third parties as well as from Apple. This update improves performance and integrates FWB’s RAID ToolKit, but the fundamental flaws remain: some features and functions are still hard to find, and the package could be more cohesive.
As in previous incarnations of Hard Disk ToolKit, the core application formats and partitions drives, installs drivers, lets you configure installed drivers, and tests drives for errors. Version 3.0 adds a bit of window dressing, such as tabs in the user interface (see “Just Add Tabs”), but most of the changes lie under the hood.
With the integration of RAID ToolKit, you can now create striped, spanned, and mirrored RAID arrays from within Hard Disk ToolKit. The IDE driver now supports the hugely useful SCSI Disk Mode for PowerBooks, and the SCSI driver offers improved performance and compatibilityfor example, FWB has updated the driver for removables to resolve a long-standing problem that thwarted attempts to repair removable media with Apple’s Disk First Aid utility. A smaller but particularly welcome change is the ability to update the driver on the current start-up disk.
Unfortunately, this update doesn’t give security the attention it deserves. Unlike Apple’s Password Security control panel, Hard Disk ToolKit demands that you enter a separate password for every partition; ideally, there should be an option for entering a single password for each drive. And although FWB touts the program’s encryption as “rock-solid,” it doesn’t offer any data to back up this claim. Any worthwhile encryption scheme must withstand public scrutiny, yet FWB remains mum about its technology. Network Associates’ PGPDisk, despite its limitations, is a much better solution for storing encrypted data.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
With a user interface that’s essentially unchanged from that of version 2.5, Hard Disk ToolKit 3.0.1 is more an incremental upgrade than a major revamp. If you already own the program, you’ll find the $49.95 upgrade worthwhile; if not, version 3.0’s fast, reliable driver is reason enough to buy the package. Overall, this collection is indispensable for anyone who maintains many drives or is concerned about drive reliability and performance.