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ATPM 3.03
March 1997



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Review: Spring Cleaning

by Robert Paul Leitao,


Product Information
Published By: Aladdin Systems
Street Price: $49.95

Mac Plus or greater
2 MB of RAM (4 MB recommended)
System 7.x or later

I remember when I first I heard of Aladdin Systems. I was the Chief Financial Officer of a music and film company. One of my responsibilities was to put a Macintosh on every desk. The year was 1989 and our computing life was a bit more simple. Daisy chain was pretty much the standard for small office networks and the Macintosh SE was a common sight on office desks.

We had just purchased a few more Mac SE's for the new members of our expanding staff and we did something we thought was pretty "computer-cool." We ordered machines equipped with two floppy drives (instead of one floppy drive and a hard drive) and we installed external hard drives through the SCSI port. The two floppy "feature" allowed us to quickly copy data from one floppy drive to another. Since this was the late 1980's, we marveled at this for a little while. We also couldn't imagine why anyone would want more hard drive space than the 40Mb provided by our new external drives, they weighed several pounds!

On average, data files were much smaller than they are today and we would often use the 800k floppy disks as the primary back-up for information stored on our hard drives. How did we get so much use from those now-obsolete disks? Enter Aladdin's Stuffit[TM] software. Then, as now, it is the preeminent data compression software for the Macintosh. I'm happy to say that, over the years, Aladdin Systems, along with its award-winning data compression software, has grown in sophistication and the company continues to develop new applications to enhance and improve our computing life.

With today's 100 MB Zip cartridges and multi-gigabyte hard drives, my computing problems are marked less by a shortage of storage capacity than by the remnants of old applications. For example, old system extensions can wreak havoc on an operating system that already includes numerous "patches and plugs." Today's challenge is keeping our software operating efficiently with a minimum of freezes and involuntary restarts. Where do we get help? Enter Aladdin Systems' Spring Cleaning[TM].

It is far easier to install a new piece of software than it is to get rid of it. This statement may be the "Murphy's Law" of the personal computer age. I'm often amazed at what's left behind on my hard drive, even after diligently removing obsolete or undesired applications. For those of us who like to sample freeware and shareware, these "forgotten files" can be a real nuisance in our computing lives; they take up space and can potentially cause problems.

One alternative to using Spring Cleaning to remove obsolete or nuisance files is to reformat one's hard drive and reinstall all software, including the operating system, from the original disks or CDs. This is not a pleasant alternative. In fact, I think it's akin to going deer hunting with a surface-to-air missile. While you might hit the deer, you'd also destroy most of the surrounding habitat. That analogy may seem a bit extreme or absurd until you consider the amount of time it would take to reset software preferences and reorganize folders. For this reason alone, I think that Aladdin's Spring Cleaning is worth an evaluation.

Spring Cleaning installed easily. A quick, double-click brought up the following main menu:

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This menu is self-explanatory to most Macintosh® users. In all, Spring Cleaning is comprised of eight utilities: Mac Uninstaller[TM], Alias Remover, Application Slimmer, Folder Remover, Font Remover, Help Remover, Orphan Adopter and Prefs Cleaner. Each of these performs a very defined, useful task to anyone who uses a Mac. For this review, I will focus on three of the eight utilities: Mac Uninstaller[TM]; Prefs Cleaner and Application Slimmer.

Spring Cleaning's "Mac Uninstaller[TM]" took only a few moments to compile a list of applications located on my internal hard drive. As the illustration below indicates, 217 applications (including three different issues of our favorite Internet e-zine), were found on my hard drive. It was easy to scroll down the list, find duplicates and other unwanted applications and remove them.

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"Prefs Cleaner" was next. Preference files in my system folder were matched to applications and extensions on my hard drive as a means of identifying unused or obsolete files. While the resulting list of "unmatched" preferences did include a few items that I opted to keep (just for the moment while I "research" why they're unmatched), it was easy to discover and eliminate unnecessary preference files that might be taking up hard disk space or potentially create problems.

One of the more intriguing options available in Spring Cleaning is the "Application Slimmer" utility, which builds a list of all "fat" applications on your hard drive:

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Fat binary applications contain code for both Power PC and 68k Macs. Depending on your machine, either the Power PC code or the 68k code is unnecessary. Application Slimmer can remove the unused application code for you. After identifying the "fat" applications on your hard drive, you are given the option of putting them "on a diet." Spring Cleaning will not remove files or application code without your approval. This safeguard allows you to use each of the utilities as a diagnostic tool without requiring you to execute the corresponding action.

Among Spring Cleaning's other utilities is "Font Remover." It not only compiles a list of all your fonts, it will help you remove duplicates and seldom used fonts. It will also help you relocate fonts should that be your desire. Spring Cleaning's Folder Remover, Help Remover, Alias Resolver and Orphan Adopter accomplished each of their respective tasks quite quickly. In summary, all eight utilities and the user's guide are easy to use and understand.

At a street price of $49.95, Spring Cleaning is the best computer maid service in town; no matter the season.

[apple graphic] This review is © 1997 Robert Paul Leitao.

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