FULL-DISKfighter Isn’t the Best Way to Slim Down Your Drive

| In-Depth Review

FULL-DISKfighter (US$9.99) from SpamFighter is a new disk utility meant to slim down your Mac’s hard drive. How it goes about this is by scanning your Mac for files it considers unnecessary or redundant.  It’s broken down into three sections.

The first one is Fast Clean Up which searches for junk files such as files left over from deleting programs, language files that you won’t use and Universal binaries that add Power-PC compatible code that will never be used since they are not used by your processor. 

The second function is Duplicates Finder which according to SpamFighter, include files that are the same but given different names. You can view them and delete them to save space. 

The third function is File Finder that searches for files that are either large or haven’t been used for some time. This can be quite helpful for finding large video files or other space hogs that you’ve forgotten about. 

 

Full-DISKfighter

FULL-DISKfighter has been around for the PC for some time and is new to the Mac market. The PC version, which has more features, sells for US$29.95 and I think that’s why there is a bit of confusion as to pricing. If you check Amazon, the Mac version is also $29.95 but it can be gotten for $9.95 from both the SpamFighter site and the Apple App store. If you buy it from the App store, you can use it on all your Macs for the same $9.95

Analysis

I have been a satisfied user of CleanMyMac from Macpaw for quite some time. It doesn’t have exactly the same feature set as FULL-DISKfighter, but there is quite a bit of overlap. CleanMyMac finds junk, such as deleted program left-overs, universal binary code, unused languages, as well as caches and log files. It doesn’t find duplicates or have the file finding capabilities of FULL-DISKfighter but it does have some features that FULL-DISKfighter hasn’t such as fully uninstalling applications. It’s not available in the App store, and costs that range between US$29.95 for one computer to US$74.95 for a five computer family pack.

I was very interested in comparing FULL-DISKfighter to CleanMyMac since I have a number of Macs and could save some serious money with FULL-DISKfighter. 

This app was tested on a Mac that wasn’t mission critical and could easily be restored with a Time-Machine backup. That’s because when you’re messing with a program that can delete files, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Firstly I ran CleanMyMac which keeps an internal listing of programs not to mess with and by default is quite conservative on what it will automatically delete. It’s never given me a bit of trouble. I wanted to see if FULL-DISKfighter could find anything that CleanMyMac didn’t, as well as check out its other capabilities.

Although there is some information on the SpamFighter site, there was no help built into FULL-DISKfighte,r so running the program and deciding what should be deleted wasn’t as clear as it could have been. 

 

No Built-In Help

The first of the three sections is Fast Clean Up, and is divided into junk, excess languages and Universal Binaries. 

After scanning for over 35 minutes, it did find quite a lot of stuff and, although not a fair  comparison since CleanMyMac doesn’t delete duplicates, it told me that I could save over 80 GB. That sounded good to me.

In the Junk Files Found in Your System section, some files are checked by default and others aren’t. Most files are .plist files that will be rebuilt but some are Application Support files. Knowing which ones are safe to delete is a crap-shoot, but a contact at the company told me that killing off .plists are no problem since they will be rebuilt when the program is re-run. Killing off things in Application Support didn’t seem so safe, but I took the program’s  suggestions which indicated that it would free 2.8 GB and pulled the trigger, making note of some programs that could be affected.

Lots of error boxes appeared telling me that I didn’t have permission to delete files. I manually dismissed 137 error permission boxes. I was given the option of applying the same action to all the error permission boxes so the error boxes won’t pop up, but I wanted to see how many files were affected. At the end of this process I saved 2.3 GB.

Fast Clean Up: Finding Junk Files

I would consider this a major flaw of the program. If it wants to delete files that need to have permissions changed, either it should do it itself or it shouldn’t be messing with those files.

After it finished  I found that a lot of software had lost registration codes. Since the files containing that information had been wiped out as not being needed, I questions the program’s definition of junk, since these files personal information were summarily deleted.

Fast Clean UP: Language Files

Trashing unneeded language files brought up the permission error screens again and didn’t delete any files that CleanMyMac hadn’t already deleted. It seemed that in competition with CleanMyMac, FULL-DISKfighter got it wrong. CleanMyMac never tried to delete protected files and therefore never showed an error screen regarding protection. So although FULL-DISKfighter promised to save space by clearing out unneeded language files, it couldn’t accomplish the task any better than the competition.

Trashing unneeded binary files, which would have been 141.9 MB, brought up two permission screens and cleaned 136 MB. It seemed to be successful. The only problem I found were more missing registration codes, but those could have been trashed previously courtesy of the Junk cleaning function. 

Finding Duplicates

The Duplicates Finder section looked solid. It gives you the option of selecting duplicates for deletion on a file by file basis, but without instructions, I happened upon clicking on a checkbox icon at the bottom of the screen that selected all duplicates, saving one copy of each, saving me from clicking over a thousand times. However things didn’t look so kosher here either. I have a suite of test tones for reviewing audio equipment that are named “test1.wav” to “test 37.wav”. The FULL-DISKfighter considered them all duplicates of each other and selecting duplicates would delete 37 files that weren’t duplicates at all. 

On the other hand, it did find a ton of duplicate photos in my iPhoto library. I figured out that if I click on the name bar three quarters of the way to the right, a “show in Finder” option appears. A help file would be so useful once again. Duplicate photos were, for example, named e117.jpg and e117-1.jpg. I’m not sure how they got there and the only difference in the .1 files were that the dimension wasn’t shown when running “Get Info”. Other times photos had the same number but were listed as different dates. 

One major caveat is that if you keep copies of websites and use elements that are the same with the same name in different folders, Full-DISKfighter will wreak havoc, by deleting all but one. This is reasonable if you think about it, but know what you’re getting into before your archived websites become Swiss cheese. I had a number of sites archived from different sections of courses I taught with a lot of the same elements, and If I didn’t see this coming, it would have been a disaster. 

Clearing duplicates said it would save me 2.9 GB, and realizing that I’d have to go to backup anyway, I ran it okaying a deletion of 10,453 files. This took over an hour. FULL-DISKfighter also tossed up a bunch of permission error screens and some content in iTunes wound up missing as a result of the deletions.

File Finder: Settings

File Finder is settable from 1 GB down to about 11 KB and the dates are settable from Never to Today. It will find a lot of files, like your iPhoto library, or most movies, but it won’t find them all. The kinds you can choose are Any, Applications, Archive, Document, Image, Movie, Music and Other. The Formats contained a mix of valid formats plus word and number fragments that I couldn’t decipher.

File Finder: Results

The method used to determine when a file was last opened is counterintuitive and not very useful to me. The next choice after files that were “Never” opened is “Since Two Years Ago” which brings up files that ranged from being opened three days ago to seven months ago. This was 39 files. Changing the selection to “All files opened Never” brought up over 800,000 files which presented files ranging from never being opened to files that were opened three days ago. I would not trust the File Finder section of the program to be a dependable listing of anything, but browsing it can show you large files that you really don’t use and may want to delete. 

Would I Recommend It?

Decidedly not. When compared to the competition, it doesn’t add value. Unless you know exactly what every file marked for deletion does, and have the knowledge to unmark anything dangerous, the program can wreak havoc on your hard drive. In comparison, CleanMyMac, never tossed up an error screen, and never deleted pertinant information.

This is not a safe program to use on your Mac unless you are both technically competent enough and have the time to know and make a proper decision on the status of thousands of files. It has the potential of deleting things that you don’t want deleted, and I don’t feel it was adequately tested to be ready for general consumption.

No utility program should present literally hundreds of permission error screens. After running it, it left my Mac in a state where I needed to restore the hard disk from a Time Machine backup for it to work as well as it did before I ran FULL-DISKfighter. That doesn’t speak very highly of the product. 

Product: FULL-DISKfighter

Company: SpamFighter

List Price: US$9.99

Pros:

The File Finder function is marginally useful, reinforces the importance of a good backup strategy.

Cons:

Counterintuitive, no built-in Help, great chance of deleting valuable data.

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