Information Technology

Computer Tune Up - Macintosh

Does Your Mac Need a Tune Up?
Here are instructions to help you understand how to perform basic maintenance on your Apple Macintosh computer.

Symptoms: Freezing or locking up of programs, long startup and shutdown times, general computer slowness.

Causes: Low amount of free hard drive space, Malware (malicious software that includes viruses and spyware. While less prevalent on Macs, such software still exists), lack of memory to support computer function.

Resolutions:
Follow these recommendations to clean your computer:

  1. Run Software Update
  2. Ensure you have enough Free Hard Drive Space
  3. Run Disk Utility (Applications->Utilities) to Verify/Repair Permissions
  4. Clear away excess Desktop Items
  5. Run a Virus Scan
  6. Defragment the drive
  7. BACKUP!

1. Run Software Update
Software Update is a built in program for Macs that checks for updates for all Apple software installed on your Mac. If you have not run this program in some time (Press the Apple button in the upper left corner of your screen and click ‘Software Update’), you may find yourself faced with several updates. Updates to programs such as iTunes and Safari are less important than ‘System,’ ‘Security,’ or ‘firmware’ updates, but it is still in your best interest to install them as they may fix bugs in such software you use every day.

2. Ensure you have enough Free Hard Drive Space
Computers use the extra space on your hard drive for something called ‘Virtual memory,’ and having a few Gigabytes of free space on your hard drive is paramount to a computer running fast. Check that your hard drive has over 5 Gigabytes of free space (Right click or Option click your hard drive icon, usually named ‘Macintosh HD,’ and press ‘Get Info.’ Under the General Section, there will be a number labeled ‘Free Space’).

3. Run Disk Utility (Applications->Utilities) to Verify/Repair Permissions
A common problem under Mac OSX is the file permissions getting corrupted for whatever reason and interfering with the operating system and preventing it from running smoothly. To Repair permissions, with disk utility open (Applications->Utilities->Disk Utility), click your hard drive in the left box (Usually named something like ‘Macintosh HD’) and press the Repair Permissions button.

4. Clear away excess Desktop Items
Each Icon on your desktop takes up a bit of memory and a bit of processor power. While the amount of resources each icon requires in usually almost negligible, having a multitude of icons on your desktop can cause some performance loss since the OS needs to process each item on the desktop to render it. You don’t have to delete your icons, but moving commonly used applications to the dock and documents and pictures to their respective folders can free up some resources and let your Mac focus on the tasks at hand.

5. Run a Virus Scan
While it is very true that the number of dangerous virus that exist for Mac (especially when compared to the number that exist for Windows) may seem negligible, they still exist and can cause some nasty problems that no one wants to deal with. This is why you should run a virus scan regularly to make sure all things in this department are in good and working order. Anti-virus software is available FREE of charge to current Fort Lewis College Students, Faculty & Staff here. A college network username and password is required to access the download.

6. Defragment the drive
Fragmentation of files happens when a file has no room to expand but needs to get larger. Instead of moving the entire file, the extra part of the file that will not fit is simply put somewhere else and linked together as a ‘continued here…’ type thing. While this makes file writes faster, reads become slower as the computer has to search for all the missing pieces. One of the main benefits of the Mac/Unix (Mac OS X is based off of Unix) file system is that it generally doesn’t allow fragmentation to occur. It is still possible though, especially if you have a lot of free space or little free space on your Hard Drive. If you wish to try to defrag your Mac, you can use either iDefrag (http://www.coriolis-systems.com/iDefrag.php) or DiskWarrior (http://www.alsoft.com/DiskWarrior/index.html) to get the job done.

7. BACKUP!
Always keep a backup of important files. SERIOUSLY! This is especially important if your computer is acting up and might be in danger of failing. No one wants to remake those 60 slide presentations or important forms, so always, always keep backups and save your files often.


Feel free to contact the IT Call Center at askIT@fortlewis.edu or 970-247-7444 if you need further assistance.

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