Studies show that the number of Mac users is growing daily, especially if you add in the iPhone and iPod wielding crowd. In an effort of help people getting to know Mac hardware and software, I’m going to put my 20 years of Mac experience at your service. Every Monday, check this blog for tips, tricks and answers to puzzling questions related to all things Apple.
To get us started, let’s mention a dirty subject in computerland…crashes!! In my experience, they don’t happen very often to Macs. I’ve had one disasterous crash in my Mac history… but with some savy surfing, I was able to find the problem, and fix it within 20 minutes. A couple months ago MacLife magazine posted quite an excellent article on surviving 17 of the worst Mac disasters. I particularly liked #4, “It’s Just Too Slow,” as I didn’t know about the Unix scripts and rarely left my computer on overnight, and did notice some sluggishness, but just attributed it to my rapidly depleting memory space. I was also a horrible desktop clutterer. Thanks to the article, now I’m using a finely tuned machine and loving it!!
At the end they recommend 5 tactics to avoiding disasters. They are worth repeating here:
1. Stay Dry
Keep the beverages away from electronic devices—make it an unbreakable rule not to drink and compute. Ditto any watery activities: Leave the devices at home or buy a waterproof case.
2. Stay Up-To-Date
Mac owners can get blasé about keeping their software up-to-date, as they aren’t plagued with the plethora of PC viruses/spyware/hack attacks. But Apple software does have security holes, and it’s important to get those patches onto your machine. Ditto the fixes from outside vendors—even if the patches don’t address security issues, they do make programs more stable and efficient. To make sure that your machine is up to date, go to the Apple menu, choose Software Update, click the Check Now button, select the items you want to download, then click Install. Reboot and repeat, as some software will only be available if other software is installed. To keep your other applications in shape, drop by the vendor’s site once a month or so to see if there are any updates.
3. Stay Secure
Security always requires trade-offs in usability, but protecting your data from prying eyes is worth it. Don’t enable automatic login, and set password protection for key files by customizing the Account settings in System Preferences.
4. Stay Clean
Keep your Mac happy inside and out with a monthly cleanup, blow the gunk out of its innards (see #5), repair disk permissions, delete or archive old files because a less cluttered hard drive is a more efficient hard drive, purge your Desktop of everything that really doesn’t need to be there, and run those UNIX scripts (see #4).
5. Back Up. Period
Just do it—OK? We’ll buy you a pony. Backing up your data is the single most important thing you can do to ensure that you—and your precious files—will survive any technological trauma.
From MacLife Magazine 11/13/2008 blog and November 2008 issue.