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#949: Mac Manual, Slowdown Assistance, Firewalls, SSD TRIM

 
     
 

Hello Fellow Technophiles,

People often ask “Where is the manual?” when purchasing a new Mac. Apple has not included very much paper in their boxes for some time, but nevertheless, your Mac has a manual. When you are in the Finder you will see a menu option in the top bar that says Help. Click this and select Mac Help. This is the manual. There are categories on the left and you can click on the little triangle next to each category to reveal all of the topics in that category. Each topic generally includes detailed descriptions, how-tos, pictures, and links to further information.

These links usually go to support.apple.com where there is massive amounts of information on every product, OS, and app that Apple has released. It can be daunting to sort through if you are not sure where to start, but rest assured that all of the information you need is there somewhere. If you need help sorting through this, you can call AppleCare phone support (if you have AppleCare) or you can reach out to us at consulting@smalldog.com and one of our Apple-certified experts can point you in the right direction, or if it makes sense, book a one-on-one lesson to get you up and running.

And for you bibliophiles out there, there are actual physical books available as well. You can see Small Dog’s selection here. Make sure to get yours while paper books still exist!

Mike
michaeld@smalldog.com

 
   
     
  Cleaning Up & Speeding Up Your Mac  
   
 

My Mac used to be fast, but now it’s running so slow.

I’ve heard many versions of this complaint, and they’re usually factually true, not just opinions: Macs can become sluggish over time, even if all of their chips and hard drives are working like new. Even diehard Apple fans will admit that Macs typically run new OS X versions better (faster, and with fewer bugs) if you start with a clean slate: completely wipe your hard drive, do a fresh install of the latest OS X release, and restore only the files you need. That’s not as hard as it sounds, but it’s a radical and fairly time-consuming solution.

There are many things you can do to clear the cobwebs in your Apple device and keep it running as fast as it was from day one. First, find and delete enough files to leave your Mac at least 50GB of free storage capacity – enough room for the Mac to work without pausing to manage its hard drive space. Regular maintenance is must. Like a car, watch, or bicycle, anything regularly serviced and taken care of can extend the lifetime.

Deleting apps you no longer use from your Applications folder is a great spot to start your cleaning adventure. It may sound obvious, but clearing out the trash regularly will help your computer run smoother. Always keep in mind that anything emptied from the trash is permanently deleted. You may need to restart or shutdown your computer for the space you’ve reclaimed to properly show on your hard drive.

Compressing and archiving your old files is another way of cleaning up your Mac. Compressing your files will make them dramatically smaller, freeing up extra space on your hard drive. Once your files are compressed, move them to an external hard drive, USB thumbdrive or CD for storage. Also, keeping files you don’t regularly use on your hard drive can slow it down. Regularly check your ~/Movies/, ~/Music/, and ~/Downloads/ folders for unused files. Drag unneeded files to the Trash. Apps like to save here by default, and this can result in used hard drive space, so be vigilant about what gets put in here.

Lastly, if you are running 10.10 Yosemite or earlier, run Disk Utility to verify and repair permissions to speed up your Mac. Installing and uninstalling of programs on Macs over time can lead to changes in permissions for programs. Sometimes this gets obsolete and causes unnecessary processing. This unnecessary processing won’t affect the size of space taken on your hard drive, but it will increase efficiency, which equates to increased speed.

 
   
     
  On Firewalls  
   
 

Firewalls can be tricky to understand. I have met many people who do not know what the purpose of a firewall is. Since the firewall included in Mac OS X is also disabled by default, most people are alarmed when they discover it. However, in most cases, this is nothing to worry about.

The purpose of the software firewall in consumer-grade computers is to block incoming virtual connections from the network the computer is connected to. Depending on the situation, this can be a good or a bad thing. Allowing unknown entities to connect to your computer is never a good thing, but a connection to your computer can only be established if there is an application already waiting to receive it. By default, Mac OS X has far fewer applications running in the background of the operating system that can accept virtual connections than Windows does. This is why the firewall is disabled by default in Mac OS X, and not in Windows. It is also part of the reason why Macs have a reputation as “more secure” than Windows computers.

If a firewall is activated on a computer, it can cause issues for the user that would not occur without it. Some legitimate applications may not work correctly from behind a firewall, because they rely on input from remote servers. Typically, the firewall will prompt the user to allow or deny the connection if such a connection is detected, but this can be irritating for the user and will not increase security in many cases because most users will blindly allow every connection.

Most Mac users will never encounter a situation where it will be necessary to enable the firewall. In most situations, the firewall should only be enabled if the user is trying to run an application which is known to communicate freely with the Internet, and the user wants to disable this functionality. If you do want to turn on the firewall, this can be done in the Security & Privacy panel of System Preferences.

 
   
     
  TRIM support for SSDs  
   
 

TRIM (not actually an acronym) is a technology exclusive to SSDs that helps the drive erase data that is no longer in use. Traditional spinning disk HDDs do not actually erase all the data when you delete something. HDDs merely delete the file header(s) when you empty the trash. The file header is the information that points to the places where the actual data is stored. To save time (and wear and tear), a HDD will leave the real data on the drive to be simply overwritten in the future for something else.

SSDs, on the other hand, cannot overwrite existing data. The data first has to be deleted (written over with zeroes) before new data can be stored in the same location. This is fine for a while, but as the SSD fills up, it will eventually be stuck erasing lots of data before it can save new data. This will affect the performance of a SSD over time.

The way TRIM works is that it every time you delete something, the SSD zeroes out all of the data blocks that are associated with the files. This not only can make SSDs more secure out of the box, it also keeps the read and write speeds high over time!

Apple now includes a Terminal command that enables TRIM for third party SSDs. It’s called trimforce, and it works on OS X 10.10.4 Yosemite and higher and all versions of OS X El Capitan. It also is fully compatible with every Crucial SSD that Small Dog sells! After installing an SSD in your 10.10.4 or newer Mac, enable TRIM support with the following steps:

  • Open Terminal (can be found in the Utilities folder)
  • Type “sudo trimforce enable” (without the quotes)
  • Type “y” (sans quotes) to agree with the warning
  • Type your admin password (no letters will show up while typing)
  • Wait for your Mac to restart

To check that TRIM is successfully enabled, click the Apple in the upper left-hand corner, click About This Mac > System Report. Choose SATA/SATA Express from the sidebar. You should see Crucial (or your brand of SSD) written somewhere there, and under that it should say TRIM Support with a Yes across from it. You have now unlocked the full potential of your new SSD!

 
   
     
  New Price and FREE shipping on the Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage 500GB  
   
 

New price and FREE shipping on the Seagate Wireless Mobile Storage 500gb

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  Save $10 on the LaCie RuggedKey USB 3.0 32GB Flash Drive  
   
 

Save $10 on the LaCie RuggedKey USB 3.0 32gb Flash Drive

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The LaCie RuggedKey is built to withstand accidental drops from heights far above what you’d encounter on your way to the office. Its rubber construction is 100-meter drop-resistant. That means ultimate protection for your key – and your data – for all of life’s little stumbles.

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  Save $30 on the Lacie D2 Thunderbolt, 3TB or 4TB  
   
 

Save $30 on the Lacie D2 Thunderbolt, 3TB or 4TB

Deadlines rule our world. When digital storage is critical for your project, it had better be as fast and reliable as you are. In every office setting, it has to connect to any computer, deliver more than enough speed for the most demanding applications, and be completely reliable. Enter the LaCie d2 USB 3.0 Thunderbolt Series.

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