Repairing permissions -- any good?

Discussion in 'macOS' started by jofima, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. jofima macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    #1
    I'm fairly new to OSX. I haven't encountered any major trouble yet. The ones I have, have mainly been due to me trying to learn the ropes. Anyway, I look through the web and various forums now and then for hints and help.

    Seemingly a universal part of any OSX advise is to "repair permissions". I understand what that does. And I also understand how it can be important.

    What I don't understand is why doesn't a/my Mac do a permissions check automatically at evry start-up or once a week/month (considering how important it seems to be)?
     
  2. madog macrumors 65816

    madog

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    #2
    When there are more serious problems than permission errors, and a permission repair/check is performed it can lock up if it doesn't just outright fail in the process.

    It's a great thing but it may be something related to that. Also, when checking, it can sometimes take several minutes for it which might not be a wise decision in the days of shorter booting. Otherwise, the OS may hang or be slow even after the desktop has appeared for a while (ever booted up an old Windows box with Norton?).
     
  3. dukebound85 macrumors P6

    dukebound85

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    #3
    some swear by it and some say its useless

    i say it doesnt hurt
     
  4. scotty96LSC macrumors 65816

    scotty96LSC

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    #4
    We were having problems with one of our mac servers and we ran repair permissions and all is well.
    It's like vitamins it doesn't hurt and more than likely can help.
     
  5. madog macrumors 65816

    madog

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    #5
    While the process of repairing permissions isn't likely to cause any harm, improper permissions on a file can cause an entire system to stop working properly.

    I've never seen anyone say that permissions repair is useless, but to them I would say, "chmod a-r /volumes/macintosh hd/system/"
     
  6. jofima thread starter macrumors member

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    Dec 12, 2008
    #6
    Can a mere check (the "verify" button) cause a hang-up? I can see how a repair could do so.

    Anyway, would it be possible to make the Mac notify me (automatically) every time permissions (on relevant files) are changed?
     
  7. madog macrumors 65816

    madog

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    #7
    It is entirely possible, although not very likely. Permissions check/repair errors or locks are rarely going to happen, and then typically when a hard drive is failing. In that situation, as you said, a repair would then be more likely to fail/cause problems rather than a verify.

    Not sure off the top of my head, but perhaps a log within the system would display some relevant information which one could potentially use GeekTool to display on a regular basis. GeekTool isn't for the timid but it allows one to display (by default the console log) information on the desktop at all times.

    All of that assuming there is some place that the system logs installations/transfers along with the files' permissions.

    As a habit, I typically only run a permission repair before and after running any updates from Apple's Software Update (or randomly before large or other third-party system related installs) as to ensure that everything is as it expects during installation, and again to ensure that everything is proper after the install. In that regard, a permission repair before every system update would suffice for everyone else.

    A recurring theme you might see on any support forum is that an official update may hose a users system. It happens to many, but is not typical for most users. Since I've made the habit of repairing my permissions during those times, I have yet to have an official update mess up my system.
     
  8. macrem macrumors 65816

    macrem

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2008
    #8
    IMO 99% of users who don't use Repair Permissions never encounter related issues. OS X is highly maintenance-free for those who don't tinker around. However, do I run RP?: Yes, after every major software update. Why not. Last time I ran it, for instance, my secure.log was readable by the group and that was removed so only the owner root can read it. That's a good practice.
     
  9. SHADO macrumors 6502a

    SHADO

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    #9
    I also frequently repair permissions, usually about once every 2 months, and it usually gives me a little speed boost right after I do it, which is nice :p
     
  10. gnasher729 macrumors P6

    gnasher729

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    Nov 25, 2005
    #10
    When you install Apple system software (initial install, or software update), the installer gets a list of files, their names, where they should go, what their contents is, and what their permissions should be. Then it installs the files with the right name and data and permissions. It also keeps a list of all the files with the permissions they were supposed to have. That is what "repair permissions" does: It goes through that list that it stored, and checks whether each file has the permissions it was supposed to have according to the list, and changes it.

    Nobody except an installer should ever change these permissions (we are talking about system files here. You shouldn't muck around with them. With your own documents, you are free to do whatever you like). In very early versions of MacOS X, there was some buggy software that tended to change permissions of system files. That is unlikely to happen nowadays. A hacker who somehow managed to break into your Mac could change those permissions, but he could also change the contents of those files, and that would be much much worse. You might start Terminal and change permissions of system files, but then you also might rename them, delete them, modify them, and nothing will protect you from that. If you want to shoot yourself in the foot, you are free to do so.
     
  11. ppc750fx macrumors 65816

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    Aug 20, 2008
    #11
    Microsoft and Adobe, however, still periodically release installers that screw with the perms of various system directories. Lord knows why, but is still a going concern with those two...
     
  12. scotty96LSC macrumors 65816

    scotty96LSC

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    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    #12
    Good point. We use the same practice.
     

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