MacCheck: Tom's Mac Software Pick

Eight Hardware Tests That Can Help Diagnose Your Mac Issues

MacCheck Mac Hardware Tester
Screen shot courtesy of Coyote Moon, Inc.

MacCheck is a troubleshooting and testing utility designed to check your Mac’s basic hardware to ensure all is operating correctly. With eight tests covering basic hardware, memory, storage, battery, and system I/O, MacCheck can help you pinpoint problems you may be experiencing on your Mac.

Pro

  • Easy-to-use interface.
  • Test results stored in logs for review at any time.

Con

  • Can’t selectively run tests; must run all.
  • Disk-related tests only performed on startup drive
  • Memory test is very basic.

MacCheck is a basic Mac hardware testing app from Micromat, maker of the TechTool Pro line of Mac testing and drive repair and recovery tools. MacCheck is a free app that performs basic testing of eight areas of your Mac’s hardware.

MacCheck doesn't include any repair or recovery capabilities. Should you need to repair or recover data from a storage device, you'll need to use other apps to do it. Of course, Micromat hopes you'll make use of their Techtool Pro line of repair and recovery tools, but you're not locked into them; you can use any tools you wish.

Installing MacCheck

MacCheck is provided as a disk image (.dmg) file that you download. Once the download completes, locate the MacCheck 1.0.1 Installer (the version number in the file name may be different) in your Downloads folder.

Double-clicking the installer file will open the disk image on your Mac.

Within the disk image, you'll find the actual MacCheck Installer. Double-clicking the MacCheck Installer will start the installation process.

MacCheck installs the MacCheck application in your /Applications folder, as well as a MacCheck Worker Daemon. The installer also includes an option to uninstall MacCheck, should you wish to in the future, so be sure to keep the MacCheck 1.0.1 Installer dmg file you downloaded around for future use.

Although MacCheck is free, it does need to be registered by supplying your email address. Once registration is complete, MacCheck is ready to test your Mac’s hardware.

The Tests

As we mentioned, MacCheck comes equipped with eight tests, although not all tests are appropriate for all Mac models. As an example, there's a battery test that will only be run on Mac portables, as well as a RAID check that will only be run if a RAID volume is detected.

The remaining six tests (Power On Self Test, I/O Check, Memory Test, Smart Test, Volume Structures, and Partition Maps) are always run on any Mac model.

Power On Self Test: Your Mac runs a Power On Self Test (POST) every time it's started up. MacCheck analyzes the results of the POST, looking for errors and warnings the test may have generated. The POST looks at basic Mac hardware, including properly operating power supply, RAM, processor, and a working boot ROM.

I/O Check: Monitors the basic system input and output, including files being written to or read from storage devices.

Battery Test: Checks the Mac’s battery (portable Macs only), examining the battery's cycle count, that is, how many times the battery has been charged and discharged. If the battery has reported any issues that could degrade performance or cause the battery not to hold or accept a charge, the Battery Test will indicate the problem.

Memory Test: The MacCheck memory test uses a basic test pattern to verify that the RAM in your Mac is working correctly. However, since the memory test is performed when your Mac is fully working, that is, the OS is loaded, along with any apps, the memory test must wall off the area of RAM already in use, and only test the free RAM space.

Smart Test: MacCheck analyzes your Mac startup storage device's S.M.A.R.T (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) capabilities to see if any issues have been reported. S.M.A.R.T not only can catalog problems that are occurring with your storage device, but also predict problems that may soon turn up.

RAID Status: Runs a test looking for integrity issues on any internal RAID storage systems your Mac may have. This test is skipped if no RAID arrays are present.

Volume Structures: This test looks at your drive's volume structures, that is, the data catalogs that tell the drive specifically where information is stored on the drive. Damage to a volume structure can result in lost files, corrupt files, or even having the wrong file read by your Mac.

Partition Map: The partition map defines how the storage device has been divided up, into one or more volumes. Partition map problems can result in volumes not being readable, or volumes being unable to mount.

Using MacCheck

The MacCheck app uses a single window that can display the contents of three different tabs. The first tab, Tests, displays the eight tests as large icons. The icons are amber in color when the tests haven't been run; once a test is completed, the icon will display as green (OK) or red (problems).

The Message tab is used to show information about Micromat products. When you consider that MacCheck is a free product, a tab that contains ads makes sense. Even nicer is that you don’t have to click on the Messages tab at all if you don’t wish to.

The Log tab shows additional information about test results, going beyond the simple green or red icon indicator used in the Tests tab. The Log tab is particularly important when the Tests tab displays a test with a red icon. Jumping over to the Log tab will show what the specific issue was.

As an example, on an older MacBook Pro, the Battery test came up red after being run. The log indicated the battery should be replaced, something I was already aware of, but it was good to see that MacCheck correctly interpreted the battery's condition.

Final Thoughts

MacCheck is a basic testing system for examining Mac’s hardware. In some cases, MacCheck is only gathering results from your Mac’s internal tests that are automatically performed and displaying the results for you, something you could do yourself if you enjoy wading through your Mac’s various log files. Believe me, having an app that can look through the log files and figure out what they mean is pretty handy, even in this basic format.

But MacCheck isn't just a log reader and analyzer; it also runs its own tests, specifically with the RAM, Volume Structures, and Partition Maps. Micromat has years of experience in testing, analyzing, and repairing disk storage systems, so having their expertise in this area is helpful, especially when you consider volume issues are likely to be the most common problem encountered by Mac users.

MacCheck, then, is a handy app to have in your toolkit for Mac troubleshooting. It won’t uncover complex hardware problems, such as RAM problems that only occur with certain data patterns, but it can spot simpler issues that can likely be fixed by tools you already own, such as Disk Utility, Micromat’s Techtool Pro, or any of the third-party repair tools that we have recommended in the past.

MacCheck is free.

See other software choices from Tom's Mac Software Picks.