Checklist for the end of the year for Macs

Get your Mac ready for the new year with this easy-to-follow, detailed guide with important steps to help keep your Mac running smoothly for the new year.

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There is no argument that Apple makes beautifully developed machines. The combination of aluminum, glass and sophisticated technology provides some of the best computers available.

On the software side, macOS is also not slow. With stable graphics and a simple, easy-to-use interface, the stable operating system (powered by its Unix roots) is powerful, but it can crash without proper maintenance.

There is no better time to do maintenance on your systems to run them well into the new year. This is also the time of year when equipment is often upgraded and older equipment is transferred or sold to make way for new products.

Follow this handy checklist with practical steps you need to take to make your Macs hum.

SEE: Apple iOS 13: a cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

1. Upgrade applications

While updating applications should be a normal part of the maintenance cycle, upgrading apps to a new build is not something that is done so often (paid apps probably have an annual upgrade cycle). Ensure that applications are always up-to-date to maximize compatibility with newer hardware and to support the overall security of the system.

2. Back up data

Backing up data is another task that must be performed regularly, demonstrably daily to ensure that data can be recovered. Without a well-functioning and automated backup schedule, it is second best thing to manually perform a full backup of all relevant data; this is especially true for those who upgrade to a newer Mac and want to transfer their current Mac or otherwise disable it.

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Apple includes the excellent Time Machine backup app, which not only supports the automatic backup of setting up your entire system, but also offers an extensive version schedule to restore changes to a file from just a few minutes to months or years and restore it on your computer.

Another notable backup client is CrashPlan, with an easy-to-use interface, a powerful backup feature set (including encryption of local and external backups and file version) and various options for backup destinations. CrashPlan offers free and paid options, including business and business options that add cloud-based backup and recovery for peace of mind.

3. Perform system updates

Every operating system that has been released in recent years has the ability to automatically install system updates; the simple function is built in to protect machines against malware threats. And yet millions of devices around the world do not regularly receive system updates. I can’t think of a better time than the New Year to change that by adopting the habit of performing system updates to protect and keep your devices stable.

4. Clean temporary files and cache folders

With the large amount of data back and forth online and the increased dependence on web-based applications, the temporary folders and cache folders, including the cookies used to store all this data, can in a short period of incredibly grow time. To free up storage space – and to prevent this data from being used to jeopardize your system or accounts – you must be careful to delete these temporary files to clean your system.

5. Perform a full system scan for malware and update security software

I know what you think – Macs don’t get malware, right? Mass. In recent years, malware focused on macOS has increased. The best protection for your Mac, and then your sensitive data, is to install and maintain a security package that offers multiple levels of security.

You must also periodically perform full system scans to catch something that may have been missed – even malware intended for other operating systems, because malware does not have to infect the host operating system to be bad. Macs can act as carriers to infect other computers in a network that they can connect to.

Although there are dozens of security choices, some packages offer very high detection speeds, are free to use or are low in price, and will not compromise the performance of the Mac while protecting your computer. Offers from AVG, Sophos and Avast are all free and work to protect your Mac. Paid apps, such as those from ESET ($ 39.99 – $ 59.99) and Kaspersky ($ 29.99 – $ 49.99) score high, offer the least impact on system resources and bundle additional security measures such as a firewall and e mail filtering.

6. Scan and restore rights

Scripts are built into macOS that scan the permissions that are assigned to the system files and, if deviations are detected, the permissions are automatically corrected.

Although macOS generally repairs itself well thanks to the UNIX foundation, there are sometimes times when the system needs to be adjusted. Scanning and repairing permissions from Disk Utility can resolve many issues that affect the continued performance of a Mac.

  1. Start Disk Utility in / Applications / Utilities.
  2. Select your drive in the navigation pane and click the First Aid button.
  3. You will be asked to confirm the selection. Press the Run button to get started.
  4. Run the process again, but this time select the partition. Both scans are similar, although the partition scan is more thorough and focuses on actual system settings rather than the overall health of the disk.

7. Remove unused applications

We all use different apps to complete work. Over time, some of these apps lose their viability and no longer fulfill their function – keeping these unnecessary apps on different fronts causes problems.

Usually the problem of bloating, and more importantly, is the security issue of the unused apps. If an unused app is no longer supported by the app developer, this may pose a greater security risk and must be resolved immediately before data loss occurs.

On a Mac, removing an app is usually easy – just drag it to the trash; However, some apps are based on the installer and don’t go away that easily and they usually leave temporary files and other data because only the app is deleted. Programs such as AppCleaner (free) or the more expensive but de facto standard AppZapper ($ 12.95) will remove the app and all remaining data, so that the program has really disappeared from your system.

8. Transfer system information with Migration Assistant

This step primarily applies to users upgrading to new Macs or exchanging their equipment.

With the help of the Migration Assistant, users can transfer their account profile, including files and folders, settings and applications from their old Mac to a new one. This information can also be transferred from a backup, such as one that is part of a Time Machine backup, to restore a user’s data after loss or change in computer ownership.

Fortunately, Migration Assistant has the same aesthetic as Apple for simplicity. If you want to use Migration Assistant, you usually only have to follow these steps.

  1. Navigate to / Applications / Utilities and start Migration Assistant.
  2. You will be prompted for login data at management level to access the data stored in your profile. Enter the login details and click OK. The program logs you off from your session and loads the Migration Assistant wizard.
  3. There are several choices to choose from in the wizard, depending on whether you want to back up data from your current Mac to transfer to a temporary drive, transfer already migrated data from an external drive to your new computer or want to restore from a Time Machine backup.
  4. Once the first choice has been made, you can select which data categories you want to transfer by checking the appropriate check boxes. Unchecked boxes ensure that that data set is not transferred. Depending on the total size of the data being transferred and the speed of the disks (such as HDD versus SSD), the process can take several hours.

9. Reset SMC and NVRAM

All Macs come with a System Management Controller (SMC) and a non-volatile random access memory (NVRAM). Both store system function configuration and system settings respectively, and with normal use, one or both can sometimes be erased to keep your Mac functioning properly.

SMC controls the basic functionality of the system, such as turning on your device when the power button is pressed or turning the keyboard backlight on when the ambient light sensor detects low light conditions. If one of these basic functions does not work or may not work properly, resetting the SMC controller may help.

  1. Connect the Mac and connect your device to a power source.
  2. Hold down the Shift + Control + Option keys on the left and simultaneously press the power button.
  3. Release the keys and press the on / off button again.

NVRAM, which stores certain system settings such as volume levels and screen resolutions, sometimes needs to be reset to correct a non-working Mac.

  1. With the Mac turned off, press the power button to turn it on.
  2. Immediately after you press the power button, hold down the Command + Option + P + R keys.
  3. If done correctly, the system must restart while you hold down the keys above and you will hear the startup sound a second time.
  4. Release the keys and start your Mac as normal.

10. Delete startup items and empty the trash

For those of us who want to squeeze as much automation as possible from our Macs, the use of boot items makes it possible for the Mac to process booting of files and apps or automatically connecting to network shares after a successful login. Although basically anything can be added to the Startup Items section, the list can become unchecked over time and be forgotten until your once zippy Mac needs 10 minutes to be ready for use due to all the items it must first process at startup .

Continue to System | Users and groups and by clicking on your account, you will find the Login Items tab, which stores a list of all items that are set to be started when logging in. View the list and then use the “-” button to remove items from the list that is useless; you actually give your Mac fewer tasks to process every time you log in and, depending on the number of deleted items, the process could be considerably speeded up.

And please, do not use your waste as an archive system. Users often do not realize that recycle bin works exactly like a folder on your desktop and takes valuable space until the content is emptied. If there are sensitive documents in your trash, the documents will not be completely deleted until the trash is emptied and unauthorized users can retrieve data that you thought you had deleted.

11. Restart your Mac to clear sleep and sleep information

I’m guilty of this. I use my Mac for work or at home and when I’m done I put it to sleep. I almost never start or restart unless the system has become unstable, which is rare.

Every time the Mac goes to sleep, copies of your work environment are stored in RAM and temporary files, so you are ready to continue where you left off when you wake up the system. The problem is that the files are never rinsed properly until you restart or shut down, so it simply takes up space and may leave a security issue, because some system updates may require a restart of the machine to complete correctly.

12. Upgrade hardware

For those of us working with non-2016 Apple devices (MacBook Pro – end of 2009 here), it may be a good time to reassess the feasibility of continuing to use your existing Mac or if you need to upgrade it by more Adding RAM, swapping a mechanical hard drive for a solid-state drive, or maybe even upgrading to a larger external drive or adding accessories to improve performance.

If you choose the total system upgrade path, performing the above tasks will prepare your Mac for the new owner by ensuring that not only is your data fully backed up and ready to be transferred to his new home, but that the older Mac is in primo condition for the next user.

13. Permissions for audit system

Most of the time our computers are just for us to get our work done. But if it is a shared resource, a user rights check must be performed at least once a year. By determining whether these accounts should be allowed to log in or have rights to the system, we can ensure that access to the system and, most importantly, the data contained therein is for authorized users only.

14. Enable new security functions

New software versions, such as operating systems, usually introduce new features such as disk encryption to improve security and better protect data. Depending on how macOS is being upgraded, you may receive a prompt to enable FileVault 2 during the Setup Assistant phase, or the system may ask if you want your credentials to be added to escrow during subsequent logon after the upgrades , or it’s just not possible. Either way, the entire disk encryption service is in the system and the added security layer is a highly recommended method to protect your data at rest – especially on mobile devices.

Publisher’s note: This article was originally published in 2016 and was updated in December 2019.

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