By Phil Davis
Use a Powered Hub to Get More USB Ports
Many of us have computers with fewer USB port than we have USB devices. We want to connect printers, scanners, photo card readers, external drives, keyboards, and more to a limited number of ports. An easy solution is to use a USB Hub to expand your connectivity. Unless you need portability, you should use a hub that has it’s own power source. When you plug in a USB device, you are not only passing data back and forth, but you are providing power to the device. Using a powered hub is particularly important if you use a small portable external drive as a backup drive. If the drive can’t get enough power to reliably spin it’s disk, then your backup may get corrupted. I’ve had good success with a 7 Port USB 3.0 powered hub made by Plugable. It is available from Amazon http://goo.gl/bsxKI9 for about $35. I recommend getting a USB 3.0 hub (which is backward compatible with USB 2.0) since the USB 2.0 standard is rapidly being phased out.
Things to Do Before You Dispose of Your Computer
Backup Your Data
The best solution is to make a bootable clone that contains everything: your operating system, application software, and data. As a minimum you will want to keep a copy of your data so here is a quick list of items you should not forget.
- Personal Files – documents, pictures, music, movies
- Browser Data – bookmarks, saved logins & passwords, extensions, and other personal settings. Safari’s information is in the ~/Library/Safari/ folder.
- Email – If you use Apple Mail you should backup your profile and your saved emails. These are found in the ~/Library/Mail/ folder.
- Contacts – Backup your address book to a Contacts Archive.
- Calendar – Export your calendar data to a Calendar Archive.
- Program Data – Did you create databases, make program-specific settings, or save other data with any of the programs you’re using? Think of calendars, bibliography tools, image editing software, games, or music playlists. Any of that information can be backed up and transferred to your new computer. Often, these data are saved in the application support folder (~/Library/Application Support/[application name]).
Record Serial Numbers & Registration Keys
Losing a serial number or registration key can cost you money. You have probably forgotten where you stored that information but do your best to retrieve it before it’s too late. If you bought software online and downloaded the installation file, be safe and back that up, too. Programs such as 1Password provide an easy way to record your software registration information, but make sure you have a backup of the program’s data file!
Wipe Private Data
If you don’t want to keep your hard drive, or can’t be bothered to remove it from your old computer, make sure all your private information is gone. Your data in the wrong hands could result in humiliation, financial loss, or possible identity theft. Deleting files, emptying the trash, and reformatting your hard drive is not enough! It’s a good idea to use “Secure Erase” when you’re giving away, selling or otherwise disposing of your Mac. You should also use this on flash drives and other removable storage devices before disposing of them. How To Securely Erase Your Drive
- Launch Disk Utility.
- Select the drive you want to erase. Mac OS X will not allow you to completely erase your main hard drive. To do this you must boot from an external drive or a Recovery Partition and then launch Disk Utility.
- Select the Erase tab.
- Set Format = Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
- Enter a name for your drive.
- Click the Security Options… button.
- Click the button next to the Secure Erase Option. You will see a four-position slider that lets you choose the level of security you want.
- Level 1 (Fastest) is the least secure. The data still remains on your drive so it’s still recoverable.
- Level 2 first erases, then writes over your data with zeroes. This is a quick way to erase data and offers decent security. It will take about 2 minutes per GB to complete the process.
- Level 3 writes over your data three times. This is a highly secure method of erasing data, but it takes about three times longer than Level 2.
- Level 4 (Most Secure) writes over your data seven times. If you choose this, be prepared for this process will take many hours.
- Click OK once you’ve selected your Secure Erase Option.
- Click the Erase button.
- Go get a cup of coffee, mow the yard, take a nap, or do something else constructive. Above all have patience — this will take a while.