DaveNet: Thursday, July 10, 1997; by Dave Winer.
Crashes and CachesTalking with a reporter friend this morning who is a Mac user, I realized that many people who use Macs don't know about MacsBug; and don't know that the larger your browser cache, the longer your machine takes to restart.
When a Mac app crashes you often get a dialog with a cryptic message and a single button that says Restart. No choice, you have to wait while the system reboots.
But, if you have MacsBug installed, when the machine crashes, the screen goes blank and a command line pops up. Type ES and press the Return key. The app quits. Very often you can go on with your work, or at least save it before restarting. If you quickly get the blank screen again, it's time to restart for sure, type RS and press the Return key.
You can download MacsBug thru www.download.com. Ignore the warning on the download.com page, it's not just for programmers. It's true that it's jarring and not pretty, but it saves so much time and work.
MacsBug is an awkward name. It's not MacBugs (which makes me think of a bunny) or MacBug. The 's' is for system. It's the Mac system debugger. See how that works?
Andy Ihnatko wrote a funny MacUser column on MacsBug.
Another tip, sometimes if an application locks up, if you press Cmd-Option-Escape you can get it to quit without having to restart your system. Another timesaver.
Chuck Shotton, firstname.lastname@example.org, turned me on to this one.
When the system boots, it opens the resource fork of every file in the System Folder and all its sub-folders looking for INITs and CDEVs and other memory resident code. The more files you have in your System Folder, the longer it takes to boot.
When web browsers came onto the scene a few years ago they made a design choice that meant that booting Macs would become much slower. By default, they store hundreds of small files in the Preferences sub-folder of the System Folder. The more you cache, the longer it takes to boot your system.
If you use MSIE, check out:
System Folder:Preferences:Explorer:Explorer Cache:
If you use Netscape:
System Folder:Preferences:Netscape f:Cache f:
The solution is simple. In your browser, empty the cache, then choose a folder on a different disk. The next time you restart, it'll be faster, maybe much faster.
Using a RAM disk
From Brent Simmons, email@example.com:
My favorite trick, which helps keep my startups fast and my crashes infrequent, is to place my browser's cache on a RAM disk.
All you have to do is set up a RAM disk, restart, then go into your browser's preferences and tell it that your cache is now on your RAM disk.
This has several benefits:
- Your cache is emptied every time you restart your computer. This makes it somewhat easier to browse dynamic sites, sites that change often.
- There's less possibility of hard drive (B Tree or whatever) corruption.
- Corrupted files in a cache can cause your browser or computer to crash, but any corrupted file won't stay around long since your cache is empty every time you turn on your computer.
- Browsing the web is faster, since your browser doesn't have to read and write from disk so often.
Since I've been using this system (with a 1MB RAM Disk), my computer has been far more stable, with both Netscape and MSIE, than ever before. I've turned some other people on to this trick, and they've all reported increased stability and speed.
My favorite part of this may be that my computer is much quieter. When browsing the web I no longer hear my hard drive playing a little symphony in the background.