Ask LH: What Kind Of Maintenance Do I Need To Do On My Mac?

Ask LH: What Kind Of Maintenance Do I Need To Do On My Mac?

Dear Lifehacker, I’m a new Mac user and would like to know what sort of maintenance I need to do for this computer. Should I be defragging the drive or running something like scandisk like I did on Windows or…something else? Thanks, Mac Newbie

Dear MN,

That’s a good question. Apple’s marketing suggests Macs and their other products “just work”, so many people never consider regular maintenance for their Macs. For the most part, there’s really little upkeep that you need to do, and many of the maintenance tasks are ones you would do on a PC as well.

For example, just as you would run Windows Updates on a PC, you’ll want to perform regular software updates on the Mac (under the Apple menu > Software Update). You can configure Apple’s Software Update to automatically check for updates regularly.

Regular backups are also an essential part of computer maintenance. (We’ve written a lot about backups, including an automated system for both on-site and off-site backups, but Apple’s built-in Time Machine backup program is pretty good. You’ll find Time Machine in the Applications folder.)

Besides those two things, the Mac maintenance article on Apple’s support site recommends organising your files, archiving old files, and physically cleaning your computer.


But we would also suggest you run the built-in Disk Utility to scan your drive for errors and repair disk permissions. My fellow Lifehacker writer Alan Henry, who used to be an Apple technician, says you can avoid problems by proactively running the disk utility every two to three months. You’ll find Disk Utility in the Utilities folder on your Mac.

That’s pretty much it. If you find your Mac has started to get slow and bogged down, there are other things you can do to clean and revive your Mac, like cleaning up your startup programs or maybe running a Mac optimization and maintenance program like OnyX.


Cheers Lifehacker


  • Being quite technical, I was happy to troubleshoot and schedule all this myself. However, I ease-of-use and effectiveness of maintenance programs like OnyX is fantastic. True set-and-forget.

    An even better option than OnyX is the CleanMyMac (no affiliation).

    • For updates: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
      For less hassle, you can you can set it to silently update all software avaialble once a day through the gui, and it’ll gently prompt you on the rare occasions you need to reboot

      To remove installed packages that are no longer needed by software: sudo apt-get autoremove

      To clean out the packages download directory and free up space: sudo apt-get clean

      For things like defrag, you just don’t. Running on ext3/ext4 as a filesystem it’s completely unnecessary.

      fsck is the file-system check utility similar to ‘disk utility’, but you can’t run it while the partition is mounted. It’ll run on boot by itself occasionally, but if you want to make it run next time you restart try: sudo touch /forcefsck

      For backups, there are many options – ubuntu one probably works great as a cloud backup, and you can find lots of good software by searching the software centre. I just use a bash script with rsync, but what works for me certainly doesn’t work for everyone.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!