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Monitoring your System with iStat Menus

by Kerry Dawson

Doctor monitoring patient

From a larger perspective, there is really two types of system monitoring that you can do with your Mac. One form of system monitoring is monitoring the health of your system using a tool such as Checkmate or DrivePulse. These kind of tools can alert you to a problem with the Macs boot volume or a hardware issue such as a disk or memory problem.

In this article, I’m going to discuss real-time system monitoring using iStat Menus. There are other tools that do the same thing but I feel iStat menus is the best on the market for monitoring your system in real time.

Real Time System Monitoring

Istat menu 4 hero

iStat Menus monitors your system in real time. It is constantly providing feedback on such things as CPU usage, memory usage and data traffic. The one thing about the Mac which is both good and bad is it provides you with no feedback on anything. Unlike a PC, there is no light indicating the disk is busy.

Personally, I like feedback. iStat menus provides you with a constant array of feedback. This real time monitoring has benefits beyond just telling you something is happening. As an example, if the CPU’s were working too hard for any length of time it’s likely you’ve got a process doing something it shouldn’t. With this information, you can take corrective action.

The Monitors

iStat menus provides you the following monitors:
IStat Menus and iCloud ▸ Nov Posts

iStat Menus provides you 7 different systems you can monitor. It is providing all the major feedback monitors available. Additionally, there is a lot of customization you can do as the menus display in the menubar and space could be an issue. Further, you don’t have to monitor everything. I do but the major ones that should be monitored are CPU performance, memory usage and Disk usage.

By monitoring your CPU usage, as I mentioned, if suddenly a core or more were suddenly using a lot of processing power for any length of time you would know you need to take corrective action. Eventually, your computer would begin to slow down and potentially crash if the problem became serious enough

The same holds true for your memory usage. If you found that you began running on a very small amount of memory and this was continuous you would either have to identify what is using so much memory and quit it or buy more memory. I am of the view you can never have too much memory. However, operating on really small amounts of free memory dramatically slows your machine as it will use disk space as a swap space for memory freeing up usable memory. However, your machine will be continually swapping this in and out of memory from the drive depending on use. This isn’t good and your performance will be severely impacted.

The same holds true for other areas of operation of your computer. You want to ensure adequate resources and real time system monitoring is a very effective tool to know what needs to be done.

Just Knowing something is Happening

Smoke Detetor

You know the old adage “where there’s smoke there’s fire”; well there usually is. The question is how fast do you catch it before the fire does serious damage. Think of iStat menus a little that way. It can catch something real time that you may or may not catch.

The other thing I really like about running iStat menus is I can see that things are happening on my machine. Possibly having come from the PC world where there was always some kind of feedback system in play, I still like that I have this feedback from my system. I can take a glance and see that the CPUs are relatively quiet or busy; that the disks are doing something and that I’ve got lots or little memory to spare. All of this information is both nice to have and necessary to have.

Sensors and monitors that feedback on any of our systems be that a car, house or what have you cannot only be a nice to have thing but can end up saving us money in the end and potentially irreplaceable loss. In fact, we even have feedback sensors where it comes to our relationships.

Feedback by blow horn

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