Don't forget about Disk Utility

I was one of the many who abandoned Quicken on the Mac when MacOSX Lion came out. Apple had been continuing to support older, end-of-life, PowerPC Macs through a number of major OS releases and they finally just stopped when Lion came out. I have no qualms with Apple on this: Most software vendors with a good business plan were on board with Universal releases of their Apps within months...with the notable exception of Intuit. Intuit just couldn't seem to get with the program in time, forcing users like me to decide between Quicken and the next version of MacOSX.

Good bye, Quicken. Hello, iBank. iBank was different, but did everything I needed and they were producing new releases on a regular basis.

Fast forward to my latest network setup with home folders served up from a central Network Attached Storage (NAS) device (more on that some other day). Now, instead of zippy performance, iBank was slowed to a crawl when doing the simplest data entry tasks. How could this be? After all, my NAS actually was faster than Firewire drives on some of my machines.

After a conversation with the nice support people at IGG Software, turns out they flat out don't support anything but data files stored on a local drive. No network storage (even using Apple File Protocol). No cloud storage.

So, what can you do? Turn to your old friend, Disk Utility, Swiss-army knife of disk and file system magic. This gem has been around in MacOSX forever and never gets the respect it deserves. Among its many tricks, it can create disk images. What's a disk image you ask? Think of it like a self-contained hard drive packed into what looks like a regular old file. MacOSX can mount this disk image and that mounted image now behaves just like a real file system. So, if iBank wants to think it's using a plain old disk, why not try to fool it into believing it's true. Let's create a small disk image, store the iBank data file in it, and see if iBank has better performance.

 Use spotlight to find and start "Disk Utility". When it starts, you should see information about the hard drive(s) accessible from your computer. Click on the "New Image" button along the top of the window and enter some details about the disk image you'd like to create. Choose a size that makes sense for your needs. Here's an example screenshot:

Don't forget to give your new disk image a "Save As" name. I used "storage". Then click "Create". Excellent! You now have a new disk image and Disk Utility should have automatically mounted it for you. Disk Utility should look a little different now:

Now, just double click on the "My Disk Image" icon on your desktop to open it in Finder, drag your iBank data file into that folder, and open that file in iBank. Performance problem, solved! And we've really pulled a fast one on iBank using the power of disk images, because the data is really still stored on the Network Drive.

I bet you can do this same trick and store the storage.dmg file somewhere in the cloud and get the same performance benefit. If you try that, I urge you to try out something other than "none" for the Encryption option shown in the first screen shot. Better safe than sorry.

Have fun. Time to update my iBank records!