Keeping your Mac Running Fast and Safe


Now don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of Mac computers. After switching several years ago I have enjoyed the relatively virus and malware-free Mac OSX. When I started using my Mac I was amazed at how speedy fast it was! After a while though, it starts to slow down and eventually every Mac is going to need a boost. Over time, several things happen that can slow down a Mac. We are going to take a look at some of the problems that cause your Mac to lose performance and ways to speed up your computer to be as good (or better) than new!

Unused files:
Just like in your house, after a while your Mac needs to be cleaned. It can sometimes be a daunting task to try and manually go through your files to delete items that you don’t need. Many of these files are hidden away in little corners of your computer where you will never find them.  For example, you probably don’t need the hundred+ languages that are stored (If you do, my hat goes off to you!) Others are simply files or projects that you have created and no longer need or forgotten about. In iMovie, for instance, you may have imported files, edited them into a movie on your mac, created a dvd and forgotten about it. Even if you do want to keep the final project, you might not need all the extra video footage that is (independently) stored in iMovie. It’s time to clean out your mac!

What’s the problem:
There are two problems with all these files hanging around. First of all, they simply take up space. In an age where you probably have thousands of songs, photos, and movies, on your computer, it doesn’t make sense to use up space on your mac with things you don’t need. Second of all, all those extra things “hide” other files, causing the computer to slow down while it sorts through the extra. Think of it as if you were looking for for book in your grandparents attic vs on a library bookshelf; its much easier to find what you need when your mac is clean and everything is in it’s proper place.

There are several good options for starting to clean out this mess. One of my favorites is called Disk Inventory X, a free program that shows all files on your computer (even external disks!) in visual form. After scanning your mac, it is very easy to see what files are taking up more space than they are worth.


Disk Inventory X


Another great option for speeding up a computer is called CleanMyMac. While this one isn’t free, it offers a lifetime license for around $30 dollars. If you are going back to PC, maybe it isn’t worth it, but if you are like me you will be sticking with Mac! I have used it for several years on two different computers and it was certainly worth it. It automatically finds files that you probably aren’t using and presents you with the option to delete them.

Nothing can slow your mac down like getting a virus (Aside from having it stolen, see below) Yes, yes, I know: Everyone knows Macs don’t get viruses. Wrong! The idea that Macs don’t need protection from hackers or viruses is a myth based on something called “security through obscurity.” Basically, even though Apple is the most valuable company on the planet, mac computers have a relatively low market share. This means that it is more time efficient to write virus for a PC, simply because there are more of them. With the growing popularity of macs comes the growing popularity of mac virus, and the need to protect yourself.
There are several mac security programs ranging from free to very expensive. For a free option (and quite good) there is Sophos Anti-Virus For Mac. I used this for a while, but a friend recently gave me an extra license for a great program called MacKeeper. In addition to top of the line anti-virus protection it offers many of the same benefits as CleanMyMac (but isn’t as cheep!). It also has one more great feature...

Mac getting stolen:

Why it’s a problem:
Wait, I hope your joking? Yes, obviously getting your computer stolen sucks and you probably want to get it back. As I mentioned, this slows down you mac more than anything! First of all, if you are in this position, I’m sorry. Second of all, I hope you read this article

The free solution is a program called Prey. Prey has a built in tracking system that allows you to find your mac. It uses the built in camera (if your mac is to old to have a camara, that is the reason that it is running too slow! Time to upgrade!) to take a picture of the thief and send it to you, track their activity on your computer, and even send you the approximate location of the idiot who stole your computer. Additionally Prey will allow you to wipe data from your computer and even send a message to the thiefHopefully with that information you can set about getting it back!  MacKeeper also includes this program, but as I mentioned, it is more expensive!

The major things that slow down your mac are A: Extra files and B: Viruses (And theft :) There are free (Disk Inventory X, Sophos Anti-Virus For Mac, and Prey) programs that will do the job! If you want to upgrade a bit, I would highly, highly recommend springing for CleanMyMac. With these tips, your mac should run fast and without problems for many years!

[I have no stock or any other financial interest in the other programs mentioned here. I have listed as many free options as possible, and only list paid programs I use myself]