So here’s the deal: At some point, you will have to buy a new computer. It probably won’t be any time soon, of course, after all, it will be a while before the new operating system is released, or you have enough cash saved up for the machine that you really want.
For now, though, you need to hold on to your old Mac. You know that most computers last an average of five years, but with the right care, you can extend its life to anywhere from eight to 10 years. The question is, how do you care for your computer so that it lasts long enough for you to save up for the brand new model?
1. Keep It Clean
One of the leading causes of hard drive meltdowns is overheating, which is due to the cooling fan not working properly. Over time, dust and debris build up on your computer’s fan, slowing it down and preventing it from cooling properly. Use compressed air to blow the dirty buildup from the fan and vents every few weeks to ensure the fan operates at the proper speed and prevents heat buildup that will quite literally fry the internal mechanisms. Cleanup should also extend inside the machine. Periodically running a cleanup program can help clear caches, defragment drives, and deduplicate your data to increase memory and improve performance.
In addition to keeping your computer clean, treat it gently. While most computers can withstand minor jostling and bumping, being rough on your equipment on a regular basis, especially when it’s running, can lead to breakdowns over time. So be careful, and treat your computer well.
2. Protect Against Viruses
We know, you’re probably thinking “But I have a Mac! I can’t get viruses.” That may have been true a few years ago, but as Apple’s market share has grown, so has the interest in creating Mac-specific viruses. There have been documented cases of viruses infecting Macs, and viruses hiding out on Macs and infecting mobile devices or PCs. The bottom line is that no particular type of computer is immune to virus infections, and if you want to protect your machine (and those of anyone you connect with online) the only responsible thing to do is install antivirus for Mac.
3. Install Updates
Updating both your operating system as well as any applications and plug-ins you have on your machine is vital to keeping it in top running condition. Updates are designed to fix issues with performance as well as patch security vulnerabilities. You might feel more comfortable working with an older — even obsolete — version of your software, since you know all of the ins and outs of the program, but you are putting your computer in extreme danger. This is less of a concern on Macs than on PCS, but if you want to keep your Mac running for as long as possible, keeping everything up-to-date is an important step.
4. Surf Safely
One common source of computer viruses these days is the “drive-by” attack, in which seemingly innocent websites contain malware that injects itself onto any computer that happens to visit unprotected. A quality antivirus product will help you surf safely, by identifying or even blocking these malicious sites, but you also need to take precautions and pay attention to what you are clicking. For example, the old rules about not clicking on links in email still apply; you want to also pay attention to links contained in social media and the latest scams taking place on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
5. Understand Threats
The cyberthreat landscape is constantly evolving and changing, and if you want to keep your computer in good working condition, you need to understand what the new threats are and where they come from. For example, while in the past viruses were most commonly spread via email; today social media plays a bigger role in malware.
In fact, social-engineering attacks, in which criminals rely on psychological manipulation to get people to perform certain actions (promising a scandalous story about a celebrity if you click a link, for example) are on the rise, and often hinge on information found in social media profiles. Remember that everything you post online could be used in an attack against you — and cause your computer to need replacement before you’re ready. Be alert and ignore anything that seems suspicious to protect both your computer and your sensitive data.
Keeping your old computer up and running until you are ready to replace it is not difficult, but requires some care and attention on your part. If you do these tasks, though, you should be able to maintain your investment for much longer than average.