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6 Tips to Keeping Your Mac Running Fast

Why is my computer running slow?

It’s a question we’re often asked.

Making sure your machine stays running fast can sometimes be hard to keep on top of, but with a few simple fixes, you’re able to keep OSX running smoothly, even if your machine is a few years old.

 

 

  • Removing Malware

The first step is to make sure there is no malicious software slowing down your machine. There are some great pieces of software that can help you make sure your machine is virus free. Malwarebytes helps to remove anything that is slowing down your machine or potentially poses a threat to your machine. It also claims to “protect you from dangerous threats that antivirus doesn’t.” You can try Malwarebytes for free for 14 days, after that licenses start at $34.95 for 1 year.

  • Removing Mackeeper or similar software

You’ll find a lot of software out there that will claim to clean up your machine, when really, it’s doing quite the opposite. Mackeeper is the most notorious of these but certainly not the only one. Mackeeper, by definition, is malware. Malware being “a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software”. Mackeeper can be very difficult to uninstall at times, especially if you want to make sure it hasn’t left any lingering files. A great guide to uninstalling Mackeeper can be found here.

  • Repair Disk Permissions

When you install programs on your Mac, each comes with permission files. These files basically tell your Mac which users can do what with specific files. Over time these permissions get changed by other software and can cause lots of issues with the speed and running of your Mac. Luckily, it’s quite easy to fix this using Disk Utility. Spotlight search for Disk Utility, click on your hard drive (usually called Macintosh HD), and then click Verify Permissions or First Aid on newer versions of OSX. This will scan for any issues. If it does find any issues, you will either be prompted to Repair Permissions or it will begin automatically.

  • Remove Login Items

Too many programs trying to start up when you log in to your computer can result in a very, very slow log in time. If you open System Preferences, click on Users & Groups, then your user account, and then click on Login Items. From there, anything that you don’t require immediately on start up can be removed, hopefully resulting in a fast log in time.

  • Activity Monitor

Spotlight search for Activity Monitor and you will easily be able to see what is using the bulk of your processing power or memory at any given time. By checking what’s using the most of your CPU and Memory, you can decide whether those programs are worth keeping, worth shutting down or whether you might require an upgrade to your RAM.

  • Delete Old Programs and Large Unused Files

It’s also always important to go through your machine every so often and look for old programs or large files that you’re not using. A quick check through your Applications folder, or Control Clicking on folders to Get Info and find out how much space they’re taking up, can be incredibly beneficial in freeing up space on your hard drive and decluttering your machine.

A slow computer is one of the most frustrating things in the world these days, but by following these simple steps, you should be able to keep your machine running like it’s brand new. For more tips and news, check out our other blog posts, or sign up to our newsletter.


Patrick Kirkman
Technician

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Do Macs Get Viruses?

do macs get viruses

Question: Do Macs Get Viruses?

The simple answer to this question is yes. Macs do get viruses. Your Mac won’t be immune to viruses, Trojans, adware or spyware. Saying this however there are no known viruses targeting Macs at the moment and they are less likely to be targeted when compared to a PC.

There are two popular reasons given for why this is the case. The first says that because PC’s make up a bigger share of the global PC market, hackers are more inclined to go after the bigger fish. The second argument is the Windows is easier to hack than OS X. OS X is a Unix-based operating system. It is more secure because it has in-built fire doors that protect access to your entire Mac if one part is targeted by malware. Just like a burglar who will target a house without an alarm before targeting one that does, a Mac makes a less attractive target.

 

How do I protect my Mac from a virus?

Do Macs get viruses? Yes they can, however it is unlikely and more probable that an attack will come in the form of a Trojan horse or adware. An anti-virus program will protect you against viruses but more importantly against phishing, adware, spyware and other malware.

The trouble with an anti-virus program is that they are mainly Windows-based and do not convert well over to Macs. They may do little more than protect you against Windows-based malware. Although they could be a good idea to protect your Window using friends or colleagues when sending documents over email for example.

 

There are also some practical steps you can take to protect the security of your Mac. Only downloading software you trust is one such step. Using the Mac App Store as well as Gatekeeper security settings will give you greater peace of mind. Gatekeeper security allows you to configure settings that mean your Mac will only trust software from Apple developers.

You increase your Macs security risk when you start downloading software from the internet without knowing where it’s coming from or opening unsecure websites.

The answer to the question do Macs get viruses is yes, but being security conscience is your best bet to protect the security of your Mac.

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How to make your Mac safe for kids

Kid sitting in front of Mac screen

Are you concerned about your child’s use of their Mac? Mac OS X provides options to make your Mac safe for kids.

Your might use Parental Controls built into your Mac to restrict what content your child sees online or you may want to restrict a kids use so that they don’t waste hours in front of the screen.

In fact Mac’s Parental Controls don’t even need to be for kids. You can use the features at your disposal to place limits on employees, friends or visitors to your home.

 

SETUP

In order to make your Mac safe for kids you need to set up a managed account.

To do this go into System Preferences > Users & Accounts. Create a new account and click the “Enable Parental Controls” box. You need to have administrator access to use this feature.

If your kid has a Mac of their own you can manage Parental Controls remotely as well. There is a box on the main Parental Control screens that you should make sure is checked.

Once you have setup an account that you want to restrict you’ll have control over five different areas: Apps, Web, People, Time Limits and Other.

Let’s explore each area…

 

APPS

You can make your Mac safe for kids by restricting access to specific applications. For example you may want to limit access so only Notes, Safari, iPhoto and Mail are visible.

This also has the benefit of simplifying the use of the Mac for your child.

 

WEB

The web tab allows you to customise the websites your child has access to. The Mac will have a default set of websites that are automatically restricted that you can add to your customised list. There is also a list of kid-friendly sites that you can add to by clicking on the + button.

 

PEOPLE

The third way you can make your Mac safe for kids is to restricts the people that they can mail and message. This is done by allowing or limiting communication to people listed in contacts.

You can also setup notifications to your email address if you want to know when your child attempts to get in contact with someone who isn’t on the approved list.

This tab also gives you an option to limit access to the Game Center.

 

TIME LIMITS

Time limits does more than make your Mac safe for kids it can ensure that they aren’t spending too much time in front of the Mac. Something we’re probably all guilty of!

The time limits tab lets you restrict access to a certain amount of time each day, either during the week or on weekends.

Another handy feature is the ability to restrict access to certain hours of the day. That way you can ensure your child doesn’t stay up late playing games.

 

OTHER

The “other” tab gives a range of other tools to make your Mac safe for kids.

For example you can restrict access to the camera, hide rude words in the Mac’s in-built dictionary, limit access to printer settings as well as CD and DVD burning.

 

(Via: imore.com; Mac World; Dummies; Cult of Mac)

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Common Computer Security Mistakes

Thief attempting to break into a laptop computer wrapped in chains and secured with a padlock

We’ve compiled some of the common computer security mistakes people make and what to do to ensure you’re computer is protected.

1. Your passwords aren’t strong enough

Hackers are using increasingly sophisticated software to crack passwords in a shorter amount of time.

Many people make the mistake of using simple dictionary words and using them across a range of logins. Another common mistake is sharing passwords with others, especially in public or writing a password down and leaving it somewhere everyone can see.

Here are a number of tips to ensure you enhance your password:

  • The longer the better
  • Make it complex
  • Make it random
  • It should contain both numbers and letter
  • It should be a combination of upper and lower case characters
  • You should change it periodically
  • Consider using a common phrase but as an acronym. For example “A stitch in time saves nine” becomes “Asits9”

2. You don’t have the latest security patches

No software is perfect and often hackers find a way of exploiting that. When a security flaw emerges in a piece of software it creates a window of opportunity for hackers. Those who don’t implement a patch as soon as possible become vulnerable to an attack.

Ensure you have auto-update turned on your PC or Mac. Some apps and software have auto-update features as well. These should be turned on.

It is good idea to run manual checks every so often as a precautionary step.

3. You don’t backup your files

Computer security is often undone by laziness. Backing up your files should be routine practice and considered an insurance policy. A computer that has been hacked and subsequently crippled takes more time and comes at a greater costs than a routine backup system.

As an example there is malware that can encrypt your computer’s files and hold them to ransom.

Ensure you have a system in place to backup files and make copies of important documents. These files should be kept offsite in case of events like fire or theft

4. Too much trust

Given our increasingly busy schedules, a common mistake that compromises computer security is blindly clicking before taking the time to read warnings or download a file.

One trick employed by hackers is using using ads that are disguised as security messages. These are created in such a way that users believe they need to click the message. Take the time to ensure that your not falling victim to these deceptive security threats.

Another common security mistake is opening email attachments without considering the implications of doing so. Vigilance and a strong spam filter are your best defences, however sometimes what appears to be legitimate email can slip through. A quick online search can often reveal whether an email you have received is a scam.

5. Lack of education

A lack of education about the latest computer security threats can leave people vulnerable. The websites of anti-virus companies are a good source of information. Seek help and don’t turn off security features if you are unsure what they are in place to do. If your a small business owner consider hiring help to setup and secure your network.

Via: AboutTech; All Business; Computer World; Stay Smart Online