“Back up, Forest, back up!” or How to outrun ransomware criminals by choosing the right Mac maintenance & protection solution

Ah, ransomware: Over the past few years, millions of PCs from around the world have been locked or had their files encrypted as a result of devious malware.

What we call “ransomware” today is a form of malware that is typically installed on one’s computer by way of a social engineering attack. The user gets tricked into clicking on a link or opening an attachment — once the malware is on the machine, it begins to encrypt all the data it can find there. Once completed, there will be two files in the directory that indicate which contents are being held hostage, alongside with instructions on how to pay the ransom in order to decrypt those files.

Sounds strange, but ransomware has become a very successful criminal business model. Some infamous examples of the “godfathers” of ransomware are CryptoLocker, Locky, and TeslaCrypt. One such outfit, CryptoWall, has generated over $320 million in revenues to date.

The first ransomware virus, AIDS Trojan (aka PC Cyborg), was created in 1989 by biologist Joseph L. Popp. The AIDS Trojan was first-generation ransomware that used simple symmetric cryptography, and tools were soon available to decrypt those filenames. However, the AIDS Trojan set the scene for what was to come.

According to Kaspersky Security Bulletin, in 2015 there were 1,966,324 registered notifications for attempted malware infections aiming to steal money via online access to bank accounts.  Various ransomware programs were detected on 753,684 computers of unique users; more than 179,000 computers were targeted by encryption ransomware.

In April 2016, CNN Money reported new estimates from the FBI which revealed the costs from so-called ransomware have reached an all-time high. Cyber-criminals collected $209 million in the first three months of 2016 by extorting businesses and institutions to unlock computer servers.

Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight. How can one protect himself and his valuable information from being encrypted into unreadable mess?

If I would think how to improve the usability and protect against crypto malware threats, I would suggest improving incremental backup strategies, which would supervise certain data sources, back them up automatically at any change, and allow them to be restored at any date in the time history. This way, I could easily revert back to before malware encrypted my files.”

The above suggestion was made via email from a Paragon Software customer, and indeed backup is a very efficient way to protect data. According to Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary (developed by Paragon in conjunction with Oxford University Press), “backup is a copy of a file, etc. that can be used if the original is lost or damaged.”

One of the most popular backup tools is Time Machine – the built-in solution for Mac, introduced with OS X Leopard. Time Machine works at the file level, which is inefficient when dealing with an active operating system and running applications. Files should be unlocked or closed for proper backup, which is not an option with most system files and those used by currently running apps.

Time Machine waits until user applications are closed and locked files become available to process, ignoring system files completely. That’s why OS X has a two-step restore procedure: The user first reinstalls the operating system before retrieving application and user files from the backup image.

There’s a better backup approach based on system snapshots, which considerably reduces backup and recovery times. For a better understanding of this method, let’s visualize the entire process.

You want to back up a particular state of your Mac. However, you know that some files are being constantly changed by the system, and some might be changed by you — such as working with them during the backup procedure. It means that part of your system will be backed up at one point of time and the rest some minutes later. This causes inconsistencies with file properties, and you won’t be able to restore references and links between such files.

Snapshot is like taking a photo of your filesystem, excluding changes made after that point. They will still be present on your hard drives and will be included with the future backups, but not the current one. That’s exactly why this is the only backup method that can be used to protect an active operating system. Additionally, although Time Machine waits until running applications are closed and locked files become available, the backup operation obviously takes more time than if it’s done with a snapshot-based utility.

To illustrate the difference, we performed an internal lab test, comparing the brand new Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac against Time Machine and another popular file-level backup solution. Have a look at the results:

Paragon Hard Disk Manager, backup, fastest

Paragon HDM for Mac is designed to create instant copies of a disk (or several disks) at a specific point in time. This technology takes consistent snapshots of both inactive and in-use partitions. Unlike Time Machine, HDM provides snapshot-based backup and operates at the sector level, achieving superior performance and speed.

As you can see from the graph above, it takes Hard Disk Manager far less time to back up 9.15 Gb of information than Time Machine or a similar solution. HDM for Mac comes with improved snapshot technology, enabling consistent image backups even as the data is being modified at that moment.

HDM for Mac is not just for backup — it’s a powerful application that covers all aspects of the computer’s life cycle, including drive partitioning, file system optimization and repair functions, data backup capabilities, and irreversible data wiping. It also supports all file systems of OS X, Windows, and Linux.

Get it now! Seriously, it’s that good.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11
    El Capitan support;
  • Sector-level backup for best perfomance and backup/recovery speed;
  • Move, resize, undelete partitions and modify their properties;
    • Migrate Windows OS from one Mac computer to another;
      • Format volumes in any of the common file systems (NTFS, HFS+, ExtFS, FAT 16/FAT 32 and exFAT);
      • And much more!

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

Keep your friends close and your hard drives closer: Safely managing disks on your Mac

Keeping personal information truly confidential is something of a challenge in the modern world. Our every move is being recorded, with eyes watching from each corner. It may sound paranoid, but this is the new reality. With our smartphones, social media, and messaging apps, almost everyone is now an open book.

One of the safest ways to keep your information secure is to store it in on your Mac’s solid-state drive (SSD) without access to an internet connection — but that’s nearly impossible these days, right?  For most of us, it’s generally good enough just to be careful when browsing the web and avoid clicking any suspicious links.

But let’s take a look at the worst-case scenario: What if your information is stolen or taken away from you by an employer, roommate, or even the government? What if you decide to sell or donate your Mac? It ultimately doesn’t matter who got access to it — it’s imperative that you destroy personal data before the bad guys grab it.

So how can you make sure your sensitive data doesn’t fall into wrong hands along with your hard disks (HDD) or other media? Physically shredding old disks into tiny pieces is impractical, even if it may ultimately be the safest data method of destruction.

For years, OS X has allowed users to erase data from disks using native tools included with Apple’s Disk Utility. When you select a volume in Disk Utility and click the Erase tab, you can select Security Options and choose how many times the media will be written over. But this procedure is very time-consuming, and you can’t wipe free space on the disk with this method.

Unlike traditional hard drives, it’s no trivial matter to recover data stored on SSDs, due to the way the hardware optimizes storage to reduce wear and tear. But this is by no means foolproof, since there are readily available tools capable of easily reconstructing SSDs that have been erased.

One simple way to protect data is to encrypt it from the very beginning on a new SSD or HDD using FileVault 2. This is a full-disk encryption option that first appeared in OS X Lion 10.7, which keeps your startup volume encrypted at all times. Whenever you boot your Mac and log in to the account via FileVault 2, OS X encrypts everything written to the disk and decrypts everything that being read.

Erasing a FileVault-encrypted volume discards the decryption key, turning your disk into an unreadable mess. Without the key, the erased data is as good as gone. The only problem with this solution is that should you forget your account credentials or lose the recovery key, your data will be permanently lost.

So we are left with the only suitable option: Wiping the drive. When you wipe a HDD or SDD, you erase everything on the disk, including data you previously deleted that might still exist.

When you format a hard drive or delete a partition, you usually delete only the file system, making data invisible but not entirely erased. You need to take an extra step to clean the hard drive completely using specialized data wiping tools. This software works by writing over every divisible part of the drive, used or otherwise.

One of the best tools on the market for a logical-level wiping of your hard drive is Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac. It supports all Intel-based Macs, providing tools to quickly and efficiently sanitize hard disks to protect valuable information.

You can irreversibly destroy all data on your disk in compliance with the major national government and military data standards. For only $39.95, you receive a powerful tool to manage data on your hard disks, and keep valuable information completely under your total control.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11
    El Capitan support;
  • Core Storage backup and restore;
  • Snapshot-driven backup;

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

 

“No complaint about the lack of windows”: the new era of Apple multi-platform environment

Yesterday at WWDC 16 Apple presented its new macOS Sierra – the spiritual successor of OS X 10.11 El Capitan. The era of “OS X” as part of the name has ended.

With the new name, macOS Sierra focuses mainly on cross platform experience, continuity, and iCloud.

To start with, Apple announced a new auto-lock feature which allows Apple Watch wearers to unlock their Mac simply by opening it or walking into its vicinity. The other newcomer is a universal clipboard – a shared clipboard between macOS and iOS that allows users to easily share text, images, or video between Mac, iPhone, or iPad.

Apple also brings Apple Pay to the web, allowing the authentication of online payments on Mac via Apple Watch or iPhone with Touch ID.

Apple Pay

The trend is clear – Apple is trying to make the experience between devices seamless. Siri on the new macOS is the cherry on the cake. After allowing Siri to introduce herself, like it was done in the original 1984 Mac demo, Craig Federighi showed off several Siri desktop features that should look familiar to iOS users, like calling up playlists, creating tasks, or searching the Web.

Talking about iCloud, it now plays an expanded role in synchronization, making your desktop folders and files visible on other Macs and iOS devices. Another new feature called Optimized Storage can sweep through old files and move them to iCloud, thus making room on local disk space for other purposes. Moreover, it can automatically delete your trash, clear your Web history, old mail attachments, and do other behind-the-scene clean-ups.

Optimized Storage

Another feature, that wasn’t introduced on the presentation, is the new file system which is available in a pre-release macOS Sierra beta version for Apple developers and is scheduled to ship in 2017.

“Apple File System is a Next-Generation File System for Apple Products” – says the Apples guide published yesterday, – “HFS+ and it’s predecessor HFS are more than 30 years old. These file systems were developed in an era of floppy disks and spinning hard drives, where file sizes were calculated in kilobytes or megabytes. Today, solid-state drives store millions of files, accounting for gigabytes or terabytes of data. There is now also a greater importance being placed on keeping sensitive information secure and safe from prying eyes. A new file system is needed to meet the current needs of Apple products, and support new technologies for decades to come”.

Accordingly, Apple File System, or APFS, is a next-generation file system for Apple products based upon the iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS software platforms, ranging from the Apple Watch to a Mac Pro. It’s optimized for Flash/SSD storage and features strong encryption, copy-on-write metadata, space sharing, cloning for files and directories, snapshots, fast directory sizing, atomic safe-save primitives, and improved file system fundamentals.

In conclusion, it seems like Apple is making steps to ease the multi-platform experience. However, it takes time to reach perfection and during this lengthy journey, Paragon Software products including HDM for Mac, NTFS for Mac, or EXTFS for Mac can help you to always be on the cutting edge.

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac has been finally released!

We decided to take the next step in our development and present you with our most expected product – Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac! Most of you are already familiar with Hard Disk Manager for Windows or even have it installed on your PC. Now, we release Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac!

We developed a product that includes all the tools the OS X user needs. Everything from what’s OS X is missing plus comprehensive functionality to easily manage your OS X systems, so once you start using HDM for Mac, you wouldn’t have to run across the web searching for additional programs to successfully manage your Mac. HDM for Mac covers it all!

Enjoy this new powerful Mac solution!

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11
    El Capitan support;
  • Sector-level backup for best perfomance and backup/recovery speed;
  • Move, resize, undelete partitions and modify their properties;
    • Migrate Windows OS from one Mac computer to another;
      • Format volumes in any of the common file systems (NTFS, HFS+, ExtFS, FAT 16/FAT 32 and exFAT);
      • And much more!

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

We would like to thank our beta-testers and everyone who supported the project – with your help we were able to gather the most valuable feedback and develop a great new product!

Why do you need an extra partition on your Mac and how to create it

Today we’re going to talk about partitions. What is it anyway?

A partition is a specific area of a hard drive, which has a beginning and an ending point, and the space between those points equals the total amount of size the partition defines.

Sometimes people confuse a partition with a volume, but there is a big difference between the two.
A volume is a file system on a partition your Mac or PC can recognize. Common types of volumes include DVDs, hard drives, and partitions or sections of hard drives.

Practically any type of storage you use for your Mac (SSDs, hard drives, USB flash drives, etc.) can be divided into partitions. Each partition can use one of four formats compatible with OS X: HFS/HFS+ (simple and encrypted), ExFAT and FAT.

There are good reasons to split your device into multiple partitions. For example, you want to run multiple versions of OS X on your Mac; organize your data PC-style; manage your backups efficiently or run Windows on your Mac. Especially if you are a big fan of OS X and install all OS X beta-versions, it is strongly recommended by Apple to install all beta versions on a separate partitions, as they can truly ruin your Mac!

To partition a drive, we can use the Disk Utility – a built-in Mac program to manage your hard drives.

NB: Your data will be erased during the procedure, so be sure to back up the information first.

  • Step 1: Open the Disk Utility by searching for it via Spotlight or finding it in Applications > Utilities
  • Step 2: Select the storage device you want to partition from the left pane. The selected drive will appear in the right pane together with its details, such as location, the way it’s connected, and the partition map in use
  • Step 3: Select the drive and then click the Partition button in the Disk Utility’s Toolbar. You will see a drop-down panel displaying a pie chart of how the drive is currently divided
  • Step 4: To add a partition, click the plus (+) button right below the pie chart
  • Step 5: Enter a name for the volume in the Partition field to be displayed on your Mac’s desktop. Press Apply

You can also adjust the volume size by either entering its value in the text box, or by shifting a pie slice anchor in the required direction.

However, some errors might occur in the process, causing you to end up with an unallocated space on your disk unseen in the Disk Utility. An unallocated space is like a void on your hard drive you can’t detect and use with Mac’s inbuilt apps. The only way to manage such space is to use the Terminal, but it is rather complicated and may lead to corruption of files and partitions.

For such cases we have a card up our sleeve: The new Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac Preview helps you to easily manage this unallocated space and use it to create partitions, add the unallocated space to the existing partitions, resize free space between Mac OS and Bootcamp partitions and much more.

With HDM for Mac Preview you can resize your partitions in 3 clicks.

Click 1: Select the storage device you want to partition. Choose Move/Resize partition

HDM for mac Preview

Click 2: Shift the anchor to select the size you need. Press OK

Resize partition

Click 3: Press Apply Operations at the top right of the menu

Press Apply

As you can see from the screenshot below, Disk Utility won’t show full information about an unallocated space on your storage device:

Unnalocated space

With HDM for Mac Preview you can additionally format all partitions to HFS+, NTFS, FAT32, ExtFS 2,3,4, exFAT:

FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, HFS+

Find these tips useful? Start using your Mac as a pro right now!

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11
    El Capitan support;
  • Core Storage backup and restore;
  • Snapshot-driven backup;

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

An extremely simple trick to keep your Mac or PC from unauthorized access

We frequently talk about recent security threats, including the new Trojan horse called “Locky” that encrypts your information forever, making it impossible to read.
Unfortunately, Locky is not the only virus that can cause problems for your operating system. There are many other types of viruses which can silently infiltrate a computer without you even noticing it. One of the most common and easiest ways of accessing your system is through an external flash or a hard drive.

There are a number of software solutions to help prevent such infection, as well as a radical and 100 percent secure hardware method. You can protect your USB ports from an unauthorized access for a short period of time simply by disabling the ports.

If you are using Windows…

All that you need is Notepad and an administrator-level account.

First, create a new document, then copy and paste the following text:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\USBSTOR]
”Start”=dword:00000004
[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\USBSTOR\Enum]
”Count”=dword:00000000
”NextInstance”=dword:00000000

Save the file in the desired location and name it usboff.reg. Be sure to save it with the .reg extension and not .txt, or this trick will not work.

Now repeat the process, changing only two parts: in the line ”Start”=dword:00000004 change the 4 to a 3 , and then save a new file named usbon.reg.

Done!

Now when you want to disable the USB port, simply open the usboff.reg file and confirm the change. This will block any external drive plugged into your PC from working. As you might have guessed, opening and confirming the usbon.reg file will do just the opposite, once again enabling the USB port.
Assuming you are the only one with administrator-level access to the computer in question, no one will be able to change these files except you.

Now for the Mac

This trick is slightly more complicated than on Windows.
OS X 10.11 El Capitan brought with it an additional level of security for your Mac: System Integrity Protection (SIP), which prevents system-related files from modification. Even if you have an administrator-level account, you won’t be able to make changes to these files.

Apple’s new protection policy may have good intentions, but it clearly doesn’t help with our mission to disable USB.

NB! If you are using a USB keyboard or mouse, please don’t attempt this trick! You won’t be able to use these input devices, requiring an alternate method such as Bluetooth.

You can disable SIP by booting into recovery mode. Restart your Mac and hold Command+R as it boots.

From the menu, select Utilities > Terminal. In the Terminal window, type csrutil disable, press Enter, then restart your Mac.

To reenable SIP, launch Terminal while in Recovery mode, but this time type csrutil enable, then press Enter and restart.

But there’s an easier way – download and install the new Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac®, which provides, on top of other useful functions, one-click SIP disable feature.

When your SIP is disabled, do the following: open Finder and select Go -> Go to Folder from the menu. Copy and paste the /System/Library/Extensions path into the field and look for two files located there:

IOUSBMassStorageClass.kext
IOFireWireSerialBusProtocolTransport.KEXT

Move these files to the Desktop or other location, but be sure to keep them somewhere safe — you’ll need them to enable your USB ports again!

These small tricks can help you protect your information from being stolen or damaged. If you are interested in more advanced and useful features to protect your Mac, try our new Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac, a powerful disk management utility for OS X, featuring:

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

  • System Integrity Protection in OS X 10.11 El Capitan support;
  • Core Storage backup and restore;
  • Snapshot-driven backup;

Learn more about Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

Paragon Hard Disk Manager for Mac

World Backup Day

Have you already backed up your data and memories? Today is the best day to think of it!

We do not force you to use the “The World Backup Day Pledge

“I solemnly swear to backup my important documents and precious memories on March 31st.”

but we will give you a chance to make a really easy back up of your complete hard drive, single partitions or selected files and folders.
Backup & Recovery

So we offer 100! Free Licenses of Backup & Recovery 15 Home on our Facebook page. All you have to do is to leave a comment on this posting

Paragon NTFS for Mac Recognized as the Best of Data Management Solutions by IT Innovation 2016 at CeBIT

At CeBIT 2016 in Hanover Germany, after review of several thousands submissions, the Initiative Mittelstand awarded the utility application Paragon NTFS for Mac 14 with the Best of IT Innovation 2016 in the category “Data Management.” Impressed by the product’s capabilities, the judges bestowed this special recognition to the popular OS X utility.

Paragon NTFS for Mac 14 allows anyone to easily access and format Windows NTFS-formatted partitions, even those used to dual-boot Windows on a Mac, simplifying management of Windows-based volumes in OS X 10.11 El Capitan. Paragon NTFS for Mac allows users to check and repair the file system integrity of NTFS partitions via the app’s graphical interface, using its volume management functions, instead of using complicated command line tools, as is required by other utilities of this type.

OS X 10.11 El Capitan’s new System Integrity Protection (SIP) feature prevents the use of third-party disk utilities in OS X Disk Utility. Paragon NTFS for Mac overcomes this limitation, simplifying management of such volumes in El Capitan.

“While Mac OS X allows users to easily read from Windows NTFS formatted partitions, it doesn’t allow them to write files to such a drive without entering arcane commands into Terminal, or allow them to fix any problems that a volume’s file system might incur,” says Ivan Sidorin, Product manager at Paragon Software Group. “Paragon NTFS for Mac allows users to read, write, run diagnostics, and fix any issues with NTFS volumes directly from its graphical volume management interface, simplifying the use of NTFS formatted volumes on the Mac.”

Users can conveniently use Paragon NTFS for Mac to easily navigate the contents  of any NTFS drive, allowing them to read, edit, copy, or create files and folders on the drive. The app provides fast and transparent access to any NTFS partition while running OS X 10.11.

Learn more about NTFS for Mac^E918FFE67C3D2094CC814264FAEBA5115597560CA4936CAB72^pimgpsh_fullsize_distr

How to safeguard your virtual infrastructure – snapshot, backup or replica?

We get lots of questions about the necessity of backups with respect to virtual systems such as VMware virtual environments or ESXi hypervisors. The great number of existing technical terms on the topic and the equally great number of solution approaches make it hard to get an overview of it all. While snapshots and “classic” backups are related in nature, there are fundamental differences. And then there is also replication as a further member of the big family of data protection, backup, business continuity and high availability.

Whitepaper Download: Snapshot replica or backup - the right solution for ESXi
Whitepaper Download (PDF): Snapshot, Backup or Replica?

Hardware virtualization offers many advantages when it comes to making the most cost-effective use of expensive IT infrastructure. Furthermore, virtual systems are ideally suited for maintaining high availability of critical business applications and data. High availability and data backup are also closely related, but they are by no means identical twins.

Which is better? Backup or snapshot (or even replication)?

So when it comes to the question whether backup or snapshot is the better choice, the simple answer would be: “Neither of them!” It simply depends on the scenario at hand and the platforms being used, so it’s clear that the answer’s not so simple after all. Snapshots are ideal for making quick changes to the virtual machine. These changes can then either be used or discarded with just a few clicks. In the latter case, the snapshot is “played back” on the ESXi machine. Strictly put, a snapshot is thus neither suitable for high availability nor backup scenarios – its importance lies in the field of maintenance. In order to keep a virtual machine highly available, it’s a good idea to create VM replications. Why? Because the replica of a virtual machine corresponds to the original and can take over its task in just a few seconds. Replicas and snapshots are both temporary – so they are not suitable for retrieving lost datasets from the distant past.
In addition, they are usually saved on the same data storage as the original machine, which makes it impossible to restore them if they are physically damaged.
In our whitepaper Snapshot, Backup or Replica? What, When and How, we address the various techniques in greater detail, put them in context and show the differences.

Whitepaper Download: Snapshot replica or backup - the right solution for ESXi
Whitepaper Download (PDF): Snapshot, Backup or Replica?
Paragon Protect & Restore - the easy all-in-one availability solution for physical and virtual IT infrastructures
Paragon Protect & Restore

Paragon Protect & Restore is a cost-effective software solution which combines the comprehensive backup tools for virtual and physical servers and workstations in a central console. VMware, Hyper-V and physical servers can be backed up, restored and archived based on role. The free basic version provides a high-performance availability solution for small companies and start-ups – without straining their budgets!

Learn more about Paragon Protect & Restore »

Сircumventing the security challenges of OS X El Capitan

OS X El capitan may be more resistant than ever to malicious software, but its arrival means new challenges lie ahead for some third-party developers.

SIP: Forcing developers to think different

OS X El Capitan 10.11 offers serious defense against malware on a number of fronts, most notably System Integrity Protection (SIP for short). SIP removes administrative overrides for processes running in the background and disables root access to /usr, /bin, /sbin, and /System, preventing ANY user or application (with the exception of Mac-native installer software) from writing to those locations or modifying files residing there.
In doing so, Apple has for the first time rejected a key Unix principal by limiting the access privileges of a “superuser” (better known as root). Traditionally, users with administrator privileges could install software and generally access any part of the root-level system they so desire, while regular users had more limited access.
Although this approach has generally worked well since OS X debuted in 2001, there was always the potential threat of local or remote attacks from rogue Trojan horse software that gained access to root. By implementing SIP, veteran Mac power users now consider the operating system to be “rootless.”
It should be noted that Apple has provided power users with a workaround to temporarily disable SIP, simply by booting into the Recovery partition and selecting Utilities > Security Configuration from the menu. Next, uncheck Enforce System Integrity Protection, click Apply Configuration, and restart for the change to take effect. However, it’s clear that SIP is the way forward, so developers and end users will need to adapt accordingly.

Disk Utility vs. Third-Party Drivers

The El Capitan version of Disk Utility has also been through major changes — both cosmetically and under the hood. Once you get used to the glossy new user interface, veteran users might notice Apple has entirely removed the option to repair disk permissions. That’s because Apple no longer allows permissions to change in any way, with the exception of an automatic repair run during software updates.

But that’s not all: Disk Utility no longer manages disks mounted by third-party drivers, at least not through the program’s graphical user interface. The reasons for the change don’t make a whole lot of sense to outsiders, especially when disks mounted by non-native drivers can still be mounted, formatted, or repaired by using the command-line diskutil.

Making OS X more like mobile

An additional security improvement removes the possibility of using unsigned kernel extensions (kexts) which modify the core of OS X. Starting with El Capitan, developers must sign kexts with a valid Apple certificate in order for them to continue working. This means perfectly good drivers for discontinued products or expensive hardware could suddenly become unusable after upgrading to the new OS — with no easy or reliable downgrade available!

By adopting such changes, Apple aims to make OS X a more user-friendly and secure platform similar to iOS, which powers the company’s popular iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch products. Although this move will surely benefit average users and protect them from the ever-increasing threat of malicious software, the additional layers of security temporarily complicate matters for advanced power users and Mac developers whose livelihood depends upon OS X.

The challenge for developers

If you already purchase most of your software from the Mac App Store, chances are you’ll never notice (or care) about the under-the-hood changes Apple has implemented with OS X El Capitan. But there are plenty of third-party developers who will be affected, especially those who offer software outside of Apple’s walled garden ecosystem.

The makers of popular utility software like Default Folder X have already discovered solutions to work around El Capitan’s new challenges, which required a complete overhaul of the existing application in order to implement. Paragon Software faced a similar challenge with NTFS for Mac, which adds the ability to write to Windows-formatted volumes, which can’t natively be done with OS X alone.

Like many other developers, Paragon products have traditionally stored application components in the very places El Capitan no longer permits. For example, the NTFS for Mac driver would be installed in /System/Library/Filesystems, while auxiliary command-line utilities were located in /usr/sbin.

Because of SIP, NTFS for Mac 14 and higher now place this driver in /Library/Filesystems, relocating associated utilities to /usr/local/sbin/, where root still has full privileges. It’s not only a reasonable alternative, but also remains proper Unix etiquette. Likewise, the NTFS for Mac 14 driver is properly signed as a kernel extension, making it a required update for owners of earlier versions prior to upgrading to El Capitan.

Meet the new NTFS for Mac 14

In addition to the under the hood changes outlined above, the familiar NTFS for Mac preferences pane has been overhauled with version 14. Since Disk Utility can no longer be used to work with Windows-formatted volumes, NTFS for Mac 14 now includes built-in format, verify, and mount functionality.

In addition to Windows NTFS, other file systems supported by OS X can also be used with this preference pane — for example, if Paragon’s ExtFS for Mac driver is already installed on the same system, NTFS for Mac will also be able to format, verify, or mount Linux-native Ext2/3/4 disks as well.

Here’s what NTFS for Mac 14 looks like when launched:

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And here’s a look at the new way to format volumes as NTFS:

456

NTFS for Mac 14 can also be used to verify a volume for possible file system errors:

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For those comfortable with Terminal, the same actions can also be performed with Paragon’s command-line utilities. Advanced users familiar with Unix will have access to additional options through this interface:

  • fsck_ufsd_NTFS finds and repairs errors on NTFS disks.

901

  • fsck_ufsd_NTFS formats a volume to NTFS.

902

  • mount_ufsd_NTFS mounts or unmounts NTFS disks.

Finally, support of the Windows NT file system is automatically added to the command-line diskutil during installation of the NTFS for Mac driver.

Download and try NTFS for Mac 14 for free!