How to keep your Mac running its best for years on end

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chas_m

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Here's how to keep your Mac running its best for years on end:

1. Routine backups. All hard drives (and even SSDs) have a risk of sudden failure at any time. Age has little to do with it, though the risk does increase as time goes by. Apple provides Time Machine for free; it works well. There are other options, most of them work very well also. Pick one (or two) and use them.

2. Plenty of free space on the boot drive. By "plenty" I mean multiple gigs. I don't subscribe to the rule of "20 percent" because as drives get larger that rule gets sillier, but at least 20GB or so for light-duty users, at least double that for more serious users.

3. Run a maintenance utility regularly. We recommend the free OnyX, even though you have to work around Apple's "Gatekeeper" technology to run it. It's that good at what it does. I suggest running it roughly quarterly, perhaps a bit more often for serious power-users. AVOID MACKEEPER and similar software, they are scamware, even if you see it advertised here (Mac-Forums has *no control* over what gets advertised on the site).

Side-note: in normal use, a "defragging" of the hard drive isn't necessary, but back when major OS upgrades came out every 2-3 years I had a habit of what is called "nuke and pave," that is cloning the boot drive, erasing the boot drive, and restoring the boot drive from a cloned external. This is "poor man's defragging" and for power-users might be a good idea every year or two. There's also some programs that can handle this for you IF you have a sufficient quantity of contiguous free space (see #2 above).

4. Be aware of background programs and bad habits. More than once I've had someone complain that their Mac is terribly slow, only to discover they're running a torrenting program 24/7. Turn that off and SURPRISE, things are zippy again. A few clients who insist on keeping gigabytes of data on their desktop were astounded when I removed all that clutter and their Finder once again became fast and responsive. Know what is running in the background on your computer. Be reasonably organized with your files. Put stuff where it belongs.

5. Be aware of changing perceptions. If you originally started using your Mac five years ago to read email and surf the web, but now your shooting and editing HD wedding videos or playing high-end games, your Mac is naturally going to "feel" slower due to a combination of your changing tastes and the ever-increasing complexity of web and software technology. This is why we often say you should only expect to get about five years out of a computer investment (a bit less if we're talking about mobile devices).

Provided you have faithfully followed the steps above, your machine isn't getting slower; more likely, your needs are getting "faster." :) At that point its time to look at upgrades (such as more RAM and larger/faster HD or SSD storage) that will help, or perhaps its time to look at buying a new(er) machine.


PS. Memory Clean (and all programs like it) are snake oil. Either you need more real RAM for what you're doing, or the Mac will handle the memory management for you.
 
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Here's how to keep your Mac running its best for years on end:

3. Run a maintenance utility regularly. We recommend the free OnyX, even though you have to work around Apple's "Gatekeeper" technology to run it. It's that good at what it does. I suggest running it roughly quarterly, perhaps a bit more often for serious power-users. AVOID MACKEEPER and similar software, they are scamware, even if you see it advertised here (Mac-Forums has *no control* over what gets advertised on the site).

Thanks for the information, I will try some of this stuff. I just downloaded OnyX and do not know how to get around the gatekeeper to install it?? Also last year I did install MacKeeper and would like to uninstall that program, but do not know how to do that either? Any further advise would be much appreciated.
 
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Thanks for the information, I will try some of this stuff. I just downloaded OnyX and do not know how to get around the gatekeeper to install it?? Also last year I did install MacKeeper and would like to uninstall that program, but do not know how to do that either? Any further advise would be much appreciated.

As to installing OnyX, make sure that you download the version specific to your OS X (e.g. Yosemite) - then go into System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> General; first unlock the key at bottom left if activated, then hit the 'radio button' for Anywhere - Onyx should install - be sure to deselect the setting (I use the middle one).

As to MacKeeper, do a search on this forum simply using that single term - there will be plenty of hits; be sure you read a number of threads especially the one on 'MacForums...investigates...MacKeeper'; also, do a google search on 'uninstall MacKeeper' - you should discover a number of recent listings. Good luck - Dave :)
 
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Thanks for the Onyx referral, looks to be a good addition to my toolbox. But even though It found a problem with my boot disk, fixing it didn't solve a certain problem I was having. But over time I'll bet it will help with other problems, and it is free! I always had my suspicions about MacKeeper and I will continue to avoid it, that confirmed my doubts.Thx again!
 
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Thanks! I read your essay. I am using MacKeeper, and believe it gives some improvement in the performance of my five year old MacBook 13 inch, running OS X v10.6.8. The absolute best performance improvement came from going up to 6GB of RAM (Memory?)
What is involved in trying Onyx?
Cheers
jbarrymac
 
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Here's how to keep your Mac running its best for years on end:

3. Run a maintenance utility regularly. We recommend the free OnyX, even though you have to work around Apple's "Gatekeeper" technology to run it. It's that good at what it does. I suggest running it roughly quarterly, perhaps a bit more often for serious power-users. AVOID MACKEEPER and similar software, they are scamware, even if you see it advertised here (Mac-Forums has *no control* over what gets advertised on the site).

Thanks for the information, I will try some of this stuff. I just downloaded OnyX and do not know how to get around the gatekeeper to install it?? Also last year I did install MacKeeper and would like to uninstall that program, but do not know how to do that either? Any further advise would be much appreciated.

Hopefully, your downloaded (DL) Onyx from Titanium Software and obtained the exact version to match the OS X installed on your computer - correct; apps that are DL from the App store or identified developers will typically install when the *.dmg file is clicked; however, those third party developers who have not paid Apple to fit into those two categories need to be installed by right-clicking the file and selecting an appropriate option to permit installation OR (what I usually do) is go to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy - there if not chosen, set the bottom option to 'Anywhere' (you may need to unlock the panel w/ your password, if applicable) - then Onyx should install; make sure you reset that option - I chose the middle one (as seen in my attachment). Let us know if this works for you.

Thanks! I read your essay. I am using MacKeeper, and believe it gives some improvement in the performance of my five year old MacBook 13 inch, running OS X v10.6.8. The absolute best performance improvement came from going up to 6GB of RAM (Memory?)
What is involved in trying Onyx?c

Hello, glad the you seem to be having no 'obvious' problem w/ MacKeeper - this app is usually described as 'crapware' here and there is not only a dedicated thread, but plenty of other posts, the latter mostly from members wanting to uninstalled the potentially dangerous program, which would be my suggestion to you - just google 'mackeeper uninstall' and plenty of hits will appear, such as THIS ONE - also, the developers of MacKeeper have been sued recently and refunds are being offered - check HERE - as to Onyx, see my previous post above and simply run 'routine maintenance' - good luck. Dave :)
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Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 10.15.57 AM.png
 
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Thank you for these helpful tips. I've installed Onyx and have run it for the first time (hopefully correctly, I may have to look up how to use it). I'm adding an external HD to my wishlist so that I may create backup on Time Machine, until then I'm stuck without backup.
 
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Thanks for these ... they're very helpful. Have been using Onyx for a couple years now and it seems to do an excellent job. One question I did have though with your post relates to background programs, specifically "discover they're running a torrenting program 24/7." Any examples of what specific torrenting program to look for? (Not sure I'd recognize one if I stumbled across it). I keep Activity Monitor operating, so can I identify those programs through that?
 

chscag

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Any examples of what specific torrenting program to look for? (Not sure I'd recognize one if I stumbled across it). I keep Activity Monitor operating, so can I identify those programs through that?

Check out this Google link.
 

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In macOS Sierra (10.12.x) and later versions, the "Allow applications downloaded from anywhere" option is hidden by default in Apple's Gatekeeper. You can see this by going to the Security & Privacy preference panel, and under the “General” section you will not find that option in the Gatekeeper app allow settings.
But with a little command line intervention you can reveal the third option and regain the ability to open apps that come from anywhere.
How to Allow Apps from Anywhere in macOS Gatekeeper (Mojave, Sierra, High Sierra)
 
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