Most of the time our Macs run smoothly due to the well-designed Mac OS X (choose your big cat) operating system. But over time, as you download more applications, visit more Web sites, and begin to use up space on your hard drive, your Mac won't run as quickly and smoothly as it did out of the box. Some users reason that it must be a RAM or hard-drive issue, but more often than not it's a question of maintenance rather than inadequate hardware.
I've talked about programs for uninstalling old or unused apps in an earlier post, but even with the extra space provided by app uninstallers, you still might find your Mac isn't running up to snuff. For a good way to keep your Mac running smoothly and diagnose overall-system health, download CheckUp. With this shareware system utility ($29) you can quickly view your system stats and abilities in a visually appealing interface. Use the tabs to find out more about your what operating systems your computer can run, processor load, memory configurations, available disks, your network, and running processes. Each are well designed and very easy to read, even for novice users.
CheckUp isn't just about viewing your Mac's current health, though. From the main interface you'll be able to determine which operating systems your specific Mac can run--from various flavors of Windows to Ubuntu Linux. You also can uninstall apps directly from within CheckUp, but in the feature-limited trial version we were unable to uninstall apps. More on this later.
At the top of the interface are tools you can use to improve your Mac's performance (registered version only). The Notifications button lets you configure when CheckUp will alert you if your processor is exceeding a certain temperature, if your Mac is using too much RAM, if your hard drive is almost full, or if your network is exceeding predesignated bandwidth limits. The Tools button offers several functions to fix your Mac when it's not running properly: you can perform tasks which repair disk permissions, run maintenance scripts, and rebuild your spotlight database. Each button comes with a detailed description of what each function does so you won't feel like you're pressing a button just to see what happens.
CheckUp is an excellent program for monitoring the various system processes on your computer, but the trial limitations are a bit too strict. Most maintenance functions and scripts are disabled in the trial (including the app uninstall feature). We would have preferred a 30-day full-featured trial so users could see how each function affected performance, but even without registration, the CheckUp trial is useful as a stand-alone system-information and monitoring tool. We think with all these easy-to-understand features and the visually appealing layout, it's worth it to spend the $29 to keep your Mac running smoothly.