Saving Your Life’s Digital Work

By Daniel Pope

The gentleman was about 30 and seemed like a really nice guy.  He stood sobbing uncontrollably in front of me and two co-workers as though he had just lost a beloved family member. In a way, he had. My co-workers and I understood, or at least we tried.

Perhaps a little explanation is in order.

One of my “post-retirement” jobs was at a retail computer establishment. A privately owned business, we had a staff of approximately ten people and did retail sales and service. A significant part of our business was with a major university and we regularly dealt directly with the students. My position there involved inventory control, a little WordPerfect phone support, and service duties.

One day late in the school year, our unfortunate friend presented his cheap, no-name, Widows box to our service department for repair and/or replacement of a hard drive. I was not involved in this transaction so I did not follow the progress of this service but by chance was present at the counter when he came in to pick up his computer.

Most likely, those of you who are conscientious about doing regular backups (and hopefully those of you who are not) can see where my story is going.

As it turns out, our gentleman friend was a Ph.D. candidate at the university, and while in the final preparation for the presentation of his thesis suffered a major hard drive failure. Between sobs, he explained that his research, notes, diagrams, and the thesis itself were contained on this one hard drive. All of it.

His life’s work for the past few years was on this hard drive, now deceased, and sitting on the counter next to his computer. There was no backup, nothing in the Cloud (this was well before the Cloud as we know it today), no written outline of the thesis text; nothing.

I excused myself from the room as the owner and head service technician tried to assist this hapless fellow. I subsequently learned that he had, at our suggestion, submitted the hard drive to a data recovery company that utilized “clean rooms” and other sophisticated methods of rescuing hard drives in distress. Even at a cost of approximately $5000 (if memory serves) aimed at its recovery, all his data was gone. Although I never learned of his fate regarding the Ph.D. thesis, all these many years later, I wish him well.

It would be easy to disparage this poor fellow for his carelessness (or in my cynical view, stupidity) but that does no one any good. Better we should learn from his misfortune. I’m certain he did.

I went home that evening, hugged my backup drives, and vowed never to find myself in such a position. So, I told you that long story to tell you this:

Backup Up Your Stuff!

I’ve been lucky. Over the years, I’ve never lost a hard drive currently installed in one of my computers. I have, however, lost a drive in my one of my network attached storage system units (NAS), see Figure 1, and a couple of external hard drives used for backups, one as recently as late last year, see Figure 2. As these drives were but one layer of my backup strategy, I suffered some minor inconvenience and expense in replacing them but NO data loss!

Figure 1
Figure 2

I’ll be the first to admit that my multi-layered backup strategy, however familiar and useful to me, is somewhat complicated and most probably not for everyone. There is some expense involved along with considerable time, although much of the process is automated to some degree.  It has evolved from some simple and long forgotten batch files in MS-DOS using the BACKUP command to the procedures I use today.

My current backup system layers are as follows:

  1. The computer’s internal hard drive. Now, thankfully, an SSD memory drive.
  2. Time Machine to my local NAS.
  3. Automated constant backup to the commercial service, Backblaze. (Off-site backup.)
  4. Weekly SuperDuper backups to an external hard drive resulting in a bootable drive should disaster strike.
  5. Periodic backups of selected files to the Cloud. (iCloud, MS OneNote, Box, and others. Another layer of off-site backup.)
  6. Miscellaneous backups: Selected files to my NAS and thumb drives as needed.

Layers 2 and 3 are completely automated requiring no action on my part for them to proceed. I could do this with layer 4, the weekly SuperDuper backup, as well but opt to do this manually as it allows for safe storage of the external drive.

As I mentioned, my system has continuously evolved over the last thirty years and continues to do so. I’m currently developing procedures to generate separate backups of the ever-expanding databases in DevonThink Pro after my recent adoption of that program. There are currently two layers of off-site backup and all above mentioned external drives and disks are stored in a secure, fireproof safe.

There you have it. Please look over my system and adopt and/or change whatever works for you.

If you do nothing else in the world of backing up or learn nothing from this poor fellow’s experience, please, please, go out today and purchase a couple of external hard drives. They’re not expensive. Marry them up to Time Machine, rotate them periodically, and store one off-site.

OK, so now you have a super duper (sorry) backup system in place and are churning out backups every hour, day, week, and year. Do they work?

I recently had an email exchange with an extremely knowledgeable and experienced Mac user who was in danger of losing some data to a Time Machine glitch, possibly hardware related. He and I were discussing the importance of periodically testing our backups. Here’s how:

From time to time select a few random files from your backup system and restore them to your computer. Backblaze and the other commercial services provide directions on how to do this on their websites and it goes without saying that you should know how to accomplish a complete restore if necessary.

Testing Time Machine is easy. Simply enter the application, navigate to the desired file(s) and click on “Restore”. If you are creating bootable backups, periodically test to determine that they are indeed able to boot up your computer.

And of course, periodically test any external or thumb drives to ascertain if they are reading and writing properly and that you can restore a file from them back to your computer. Can you recover the thousands of irreplaceable photographs you have backed up to that single external hard drive that you’ve been using for the last five or six years? One of my external drives went belly up recently. Yours can too.

And finally, please don’t be complacent and dismiss our unfortunate friend’s experience thinking, “This could never happen to me. After all, I have this brand new,

ultra-expensive, space gray, tricked out 15” MacBook Pro complete with the new touch bar.”  Although not very common these days, new drives, both spinning and SSD, can and do fail.

Remember, although today’s SSD drives are considerably more reliable than the old spinning type, there are still only two kinds of computer drives and SSD’s: the dead and the dying.

Don’t be that guy.



Create a Personal Knowledge Library

By Phil Davis

March 2017 OMUG Newsletter

Most of us are constantly collecting bits and pieces of information that we find interesting and useful. We’ll read some household or technical tip on the internet that we say “hey, I could use that someday.” So we file that away in our brain, or maybe write it on a piece of paper and put it in a stack with all the other bits of useful knowledge.

Then, three weeks, or three months later we have an occasion to need this bit of knowledge, but we not only can’t remember it but can’t even find the piece of paper.

There is a better way. Start creating your own Personal Knowledge Library (PKL). A couple of years ago I talked about creating a reference library of all your user guides and equipment manuals. A PKL takes this concept one step further and becomes your long-term memory assistant. You might even call it your personal Wikipedia (or for us older folks, a personal Encylopedia Brittanica).

So, how to get started?

First, you will need to decide on an app to use to house your PKL. Ideally, you want one that is easy to use, can store many types of information and is searchable. Also, you would like your information to be accessible from your computer and your iDevices. The app should contain your collection of knowledge in a single file or database but have the ability to easily export stored information in a variety of formats.

Theoretically, you could do the same thing by saving everything in individual files on your computer, but this would quickly become a nightmare and defeat the entire purpose of your PKL.

Next, think about some of the categories you might want to use to identify your knowledge entries. I would suggest starting with some simple ones and expanding later — any good PKL app will make it easy to modify and add to your organization structure as it goes. For example, you might start with simple categories like household tips, technical tips, OMUG newsletters (saved as PDFs), favorite websites, travel plans, and important documents.

Finally, get an app and start using it. There are many to choose from, but here are a few to try. You might want to try several of these for a few days to see what works for you.

Apple Notes: This app is on all Macs and iDevices. The latest version of Notes in Sierra and iOS 10 satisfy many of the requirements but is not as flexible as some of the other choices. It is good for quick notes such as shopping lists that you want to use on your iDevice. Sharing between Mac and iDevices is done through iCloud.

Evernote: This cloud-based service is free, is easy to use, and has downloadable apps for the desktop and iDevices. Also, there are browser extensions that make it very easy to clip information from the web for later retrieval. There are paid upgrades available, but most users will be happy with the free version. Sharing between Mac, PC, iDevices, and Androids is done through Evernote’s web-based servers.

Microsoft OneNote: OneNote has been around for years on the PC and is now available on Macs and iDevices. It is free but requires you to have a Microsoft OneDrive account to allow sharing of documents. The user interface can be a little confusing but you might give it a try to see if it works for you.

DEVONthink: Devonthink is the best of the bunch in terms of power, flexibility, and searchability. You can dump almost anything in it and almost instantly find it later. It isn’t free, but there are several versions available and you can get a fully functional trial version to see if it is what you want. I have used DEVONthink as my own PKL since I switched to a Mac about ten years ago. DEVONthink knowledge bases can be shared using Dropbox, iCloud, Box, and a number of other services.

There are many, many other choices out there, but the best thing is to pick one or two and just get started. I think you will find that having your own Personal Knowledge Library will be one of the most useful tools on your Mac! Think of something like Apple Notes as your short-term memory and Evernote or Devonthink as your long-term memory.

How to Take a Screenshot on a Mac

By Phil DavisPublished February 2012; Updated December 2016

Use Keyboard Shortcuts

Screenshots can be made using these shortcuts.

  • Capture screen, save to file CMD+SHIFT+3
  • Capture screen, save to clipboard CMD+CTRL+SHIFT+3
  • Capture a selection, save to file CMD+SHIFT+4
  • Capture a selection, save to clipboard CMD+CTRL+SHIFT+4

Use the Grab Application

You can also make use of Grab application which is included with the Mac OS. You can find it at /applications/utilities/grab. The captured image can be saved to a file or can be copied to another application.

  1. Open Grab
  2. Select Capture from the Menu
  3. Select the type of capture needed (Selection, Window, Screen, Timed Screen)
  4. Select FILE > SAVE to save the image, or
  5. Select EDIT > COPY to put the image into the clipboard

Or, use the following keyboard shortcuts

  • Capture selection CMD+SHIFT+A
  • Capture window CMD+SHIFT+W
  • Capture screen CMD+Z
  • Timed capture of screen CMD+SHIFT+Z (capture occurs 10 seconds after selection)

Use the Preview Application

Preview gives you the ability to annotate your capture without the use of other software.

  1. Open Preview (from the Dock or from the applications menu)
  4. If desired annotate the capture: Select TOOLS > ANNOTATE
  5. Save the file as a PDF or an image.

If you want to annotate the screen capture, check out some of the following applications: Monoshap, Snappy, Jing (free) or Powershot, Snagit, Capto, SnapZ Pro, Napkin (commercial apps).

Five Quick Tips

By Phil Davis Published December 2011; Updated December 2016

Use Spotlight to Launch Applications

The simplest and fastest way to launch an application is to use Spotlight. Use the keyboard shortcut CMD+SpaceBar to open Spotlight, enter the name of the app (usually you only need the first few characters) and click on the app’s icon. It couldn’t be simpler!

Look For The Obvious

When trying to track down a vexing computer problem most of us will spend a lot of time on google, asking experts, calling Apple, etc. However, sometimes we are so immersed in the details we forget to look for the most obvious cause.

In a recent blog, the author was trying to uncover the cause of a drastic slowdown in his iMac’s performance. Nothing worked until he happened to notice that there were 0 GB left on the hard drive! Once he deleted about 10 GB of unneeded files, the Mac ran fine.

Remember: try to keep at least 15% of your hard drive free.

A Quick Way To Add a Software License Items to 1Password

One of 1Password’s features is the ability to securely store all your software licenses. The normal way is to use File > New Item > New Software License from the 1Password menu.

However, a faster way is to view your applications in the Finder, then drag-and-drop the app’s icon onto 1Password’s Dock icon and a new license item will be created with most of the needed information. Then you can paste your license into the new item for safe keeping.

Use Preview to Sharpen Text

Sometimes you have a PDF file that has fonts that are faint or in a color that is hard to read. With Preview you can adjust the contrast somewhat to increase the contrast.* Open the PDF with Preview* Choose File > Export* Click on the Quartz Filter drop-down menu and select Lightness Decrease* Click Save

Force a Disk to “Unmount”

Sometimes Mac OS X goes a little crazy and won’t let you eject an external drive, even after it’s no longer in use by any application. If you can’t unmount a disk even after all open applications are closed, and don’t want to restart your machine, this little Terminal trick is for you.

Open the Terminal utility, and type:

diskutil unmountDisk force /Volumes/DISK_NAME

Replace DISK_NAME with the volume name (yes, it is case sensitive) and you are all set!

Three Ways to Learn About Your Computer

By: Phil Davis. Published April 2013; Updated December 2016

You just bought your shiny new Mac and you are anxious to get started using it. However, you might want to take a few minutes to understand (and document) what you have before downloading all those apps.

Here are three easy ways to learn about your Mac.

Use About My Computer

The easiest way to see what is inside that fancy box is to click the Apple icon in the upper left corner and select About This Mac. You will see the version of OS X installed on your computer, the processor type and speed, the amount of memory, and the name of the start-up disk.


If you click Displays, Storage, or Memory at the top of the small window you will get even more useful information. The storage window is one of the most useful as you can see how much space is left on your startup drive.

If you click back to the Overview page and select System Report you will get all the gory details of all your hardware and software.

Get a Manual and a Specification Sheet for Your Computer

If you click on Support you can download a PDF copy of your computer’s manual (1) and spec sheet (2). Your serial number will be used to get the correct information.


This is also a quick way to get hardware and software information from Apple.

Get MacTracker

Your final source of information is to download a free app called MacTracker. Go here and grab this little gem


Mactracker provides detailed information on every Apple Macintosh computer ever made, including items such as processor speed, memory, optical drives, graphic cards, supported OS versions, and expansion options. There is also information about Apple mice, keyboards, displays, printers, scanners, speakers, cameras, iPod, Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Wi-Fi products, Newton, iOS, Mac OS, and OS X versions.

Now, you will be able to start downloading those apps, learn how to master your machine and start on the road to becoming a Mac wizard.

Happy computing!

How to Migrate to a New Mac

by Joe Kissel

When you get a new Mac — whether it’s brand new or just new to you — one of your first questions is bound to be how you move all your data from your old Mac (or PC, if you’re switching platforms) to the new one. Those of us who have moved from one Mac to another repeatedly may not give it much thought, but if you haven’t done it before, or at least recently, the prospect of dealing with loads of documents, folders, accounts, preferences, and so on can seem daunting.

In fact, there are several ways to migrate your data, and which way you choose depends on your circumstances. There are four main paths you might consider. In order from easiest to most challenging, those paths are:

  • Sync from the Cloud: If you keep pretty much all your data in the cloud, all you need to do is log in to the appropriate accounts on your new Mac. Those accounts would cover documents in iCloud Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive, or whatever; email in an IMAP or Exchange account; contacts and calendars stored in CardDAV and CalDAV accounts; photos synced with iCloud Photo Library or comparable; music via streaming or synced using iTunes Match; and so on. Data that’s cached locally will sync automatically, and anything you normally leave in the cloud will remain there, just as accessible as it was on your old Mac. Migration is essentially a non-issue, except for any random files you stored only on your old Mac’s drive — and you can copy those over to the new Mac manually.
  • Use a Clone to Migrate: If you have or are willing to make a bootable duplicate, or clone, of your old Mac onto an external hard drive using a utility such as Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper, you can then connect the duplicate to your new Mac and boot from it. (Hold down Option on startup and select the duplicate — see “macOS Hidden Treasures: 15 Startup Key Combinations,” 1 September 2016). Now use the same backup utility to clone the duplicate onto the startup volume of your new Mac. Finally, reboot your new Mac from its internal drive. That’s it — your new Mac has all the same apps, files, and other data as your old one.

    This is the approach I nearly always take, because it’s simple, it’s relatively fast, and it puts all my data exactly where I expect it to be. But, there are a couple of caveats. First, migrating via a clone assumes that the new Mac can run the same operating system that’s on your clone. But if your old Mac was running, say, Mavericks and you get a new Mac that requires Sierra or later, this procedure will leave you with a Mac that doesn’t boot. You can usually avoid this problem by upgrading your old Mac to the very latest system software before cloning it. And second, don’t use this approach if you’ve already created files on the new Mac because it will overwrite everything on that Mac’s drive.

  • Migrate via Setup Assistant: When you turn on a brand new Mac for the first time, a program called Setup Assistant runs; it walks you through creating a user account and various other essential first-run steps. One of those steps offers to transfer your data from another Mac, a Time Machine backup, an external startup disk, or a Windows PC. If your new Mac requires a newer operating system than what’s on your old Mac, using Setup Assistant is your best option — and you can still use your old system’s clone as a source if you like. Setup Assistant also runs when you install macOS onto a blank volume, giving you the same options. So, if you’re performing a clean install of a new operating system, as opposed to an in-place upgrade, you can use this procedure to migrate your old data.
  • Use Migration Assistant: Finally, there’s another utility included with every Mac called Migration Assistant, which can be used to migrate accounts and data from another Mac (or a backup) at any time. Migration Assistant looks and acts almost exactly like the file transfer portion of Setup Assistant, which is no accident — they use the same underlying code. If you’ve already been using your new Mac for a while, this may be your best option, but, for reasons I’ll explain in a moment, it’s not ideal in every situation.

If one of the first two options (cloud sync or using a clone) meets your needs, you can stop reading now. The remainder of this article is for people who need to use Apple’s migration technology via Setup Assistant or Migration Assistant. But before I launch into the steps you’ll take, I want to give you some essential background on migration that may affect your decisions.


HGST hard disks still super reliable, Seagates have greatly improved

While the Seagate 1.5TB disks had problems, its new drives look much more reliable.

by Peter Bright – Feb 16, 2016 10:48 pm UTC

source: HGST hard disks still super reliable, Seagates have greatly improved | Ars Technica

Cloud backup provider Backblaze has published more of its hard drive reliability data, giving a look at the company’s experiences with its 56,224 hard disks in 2015.

In 2014, HGST was the standout performer, with all its models showing extremely good reliability. Some Seagate models, on the other hand, showed alarming unreliability and extremely high failure rates.

For 2015, HGST maintained its strong performance. Across all the HGST models that Backblaze used (one 2TB, two 3TB, three 4TB, and one 8TB), failure rates were low across the board. The HGST drives are some of the oldest in Backblaze’s collection, with the 2TB units being almost five years old on average. Over the last two and a half years, only 1.55 percent of them have failed.

Seagate showed much stronger performance, too. Two of the models that performed so badly in 2014 are 1.5TB drives. One of those models has since been retired, for a lifetime cumulative failure rate of 23.86 percent. The other model, now averaging about five years old, still has a high failure rate of 10.16 percent. The third problematic Seagate model, a 3TB drive, has also been retired after showing a cumulative failure rate of 28.34 percent.

With these troublesome disks removed, the remaining Seagate disks, both 4TB and 6TB, fared much better. Although the failure rates are a bit higher than those of the HGST spindles, Backblaze has standardized on 4TB Seagate disks thanks to a combination of price and availability.

The weakest performance was from Western Digital. The standout here, for all the wrong reasons, is the company’s 2TB units. Though Backblaze doesn’t have many of these units (only 131), limiting the value of the data, the company found that almost 10 percent of the disks failed, even though their average age is just shy of nine months.

This data is striking because WD owns HGST, operating it as a subsidiary. So one company is building both the most and the least reliable new disks. The difference isn’t readily attributable to different manufacturing, either; HGST’s 3.5-inch disk manufacturing capability was sold to Toshiba. Backblaze has only a limited number of Toshiba drives, and thus far they’re performing at about the same level as the Seagates.

Enlarge / Drive failure rates by manufacturer.


Currently, Backblaze’s storage is mainly made up of 3 and 4TB disks, but the company has started using the new 6 and 8TB models. At 6TB, Seagate has done very well, whereas WD has shown much worse reliability. Though the density of the 6TB disks is appealing, the company is currently sticking with 4TB as its main size. The price per gigabyte of the 6TB disks is about a third more than that of the 4TB disks, and power consumption is some 60 percent greater. As such, while the 6TB units make sense if you’re strictly space constrained, the 4TB disks represent the better option for applications that are either power or cash constrained.

The latest innovation in hard disks is the use of helium-filled drives, with both HGST and Seagate having entrants in the field, and Backblaze has started experimenting with 8TB helium-filled HGST drives. These drives have some promise due to their greater density and lower power consumption, but their cost per gigabyte is currently almost 80 percent higher than that of the 4TB disks. As such, the company has filled only one of its storage pods with 45 of the drives, packing 360TB into a 4U system. Some drive failures have been experienced in this system, but the data set is too small to make any inferences from this data.

As ever, Backblaze’s hard disk reliability data comes with a footnote of sorts. The company uses non-enterprise drives in a high density, (relatively) high vibration environment, with a 100 percent duty cycle. While Backblaze is now offering general purpose cloud storage that’s comparable to Amazon’s S3 or Microsoft’s Azure storage, its main application is still backups, and this focus strongly influences access patterns. We aren’t talking about hugely I/O intensive workloads, meaning that Backblaze’s data may not be a good guide when compared to other usage patterns.

The study is still useful, though, not just because Backblaze actually names names and identifies the different models of drive that it uses rather than anonymizing them completely or grouping them by manufacturer. It doesn’t seem too churlish to suggest that self-builders and home users should probably take a good hard look at the HGST drives as their track record is so strong. They don’t match Backblaze’s preference, but for home users, the cost seems insignificant, and the ability to easily source hundreds of drives at a time is irrelevant.

4 Signs It’s Time To Replace Your Mac

Note: this is a repost from MakeUseOf.

By Bryan Wolfe February 3, 2016

It’s no secret that Apple hardware lasts a long time. Eventually, however, the time comes when your Mac may outlast its usefulness, becoming obsolete.

It’s generally pretty obvious when it’s time to replace your computer, but just in case you’re unsure here four signs that it might be time for a trip to the Apple Store.

Your Applications Are Getting Slower

We say: Software applications tend to get bigger and more demanding with time. Eventually, your Mac won’t be able to keep up with those demands. In the short-term, you can slide back to an earlier software version to help with performance. Unfortunately, even this option becomes prohibitive at some point — especially if you want new features and functonality.

There are a few things you can do to speed up your Mac. For one, you can free up space on your hard drive by removing unwanted files. There are plenty of ways to do this, from emptying your trash can to removing entire libraries.


The number of Startup applications on your Mac can also slow it down.  You can take a look at your login items and remove those that aren’t needed. You can find these in System Preferences > Users & Groups, and then by clicking on your username. Next, click on Login Items and the name of an application you don’t need to launch during startup. Finally, click the “-” symbol located below the list to the left, thereby removing the application.

To make your Mac run faster, you can also see which applications are running in the background using Activity Monitor. Some of these applications can take up a lot of processing power. To access Activity Monitor, open up your Applications folder and then your Utilities folder. From here, open Activity Monitor and take a look at the list of apps and processes that are running on your Mac in real-time.

From here, click on the Memory tab at the top and then the Memory filter at the top of the list. Under this view, programs are sorted by the amount available RAM they are using. To stop an application, click on it and then select the gray “x” icon located at the top-left corner of the window. When in doubt, don’t stop an application or process.

You can also reinstall OS X for a squeaky-clean Mac. Eventually you will get tired of juggling your Mac’s processes, and that’s when you might want to consider an upgrade.

Your Computer Won’t Run The Latest OS X

We say: Apple wants us to be using the latest version of OS X on our Macs, providing it for free. When a Mac can’t run the latest version, it’s only a matter of time before a new purchase becomes a necessity.

About This Mac

Apple releases a new version of OS X each fall. The current version, OS X 10.11 El Capitan, is compatible with most Macs manufactured since 2007, including:

  • MacBook (Early 2015)
  • MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
  • MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
  • Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
  • iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

If your Mac isn’t on this list, the time has come to consider making a new purchase. The reason for this is two-fold. First, along with not being able to run El Capitan, your Mac has probably been downgraded by Apple to “vintage” or “obsolete” status. Vintage products are those manufactured more than five and less than seven years ago.

Apple discontinues hardware service for vintage products, which means they won’t be able to get your Mac fixed for cheap if things go wrong. You may be able to get work done from non-Apple service points though.

Obsolete products are those discontinued for being more than seven years old. At this point, service providers can no longer order parts.

Components Don’t Work, Are Too Expensive

We say: Parts for Macs are expensive. Luckily, they typically last a long time. When a part needs replacing, you need to decide whether it’s worth the cost. Much of the time a better solution may be purchasing a new Mac.

You can certainly continue to use your MacBook when the battery dies by plugging it into a wall for power. However, this isn’t a great long-term solution, as a faulty battery could indicate that other system components are about to break. Although Apple offers a battery replacement program, this can be expensive.


In recent years, Apple has made it nearly impossible for end users to replace Mac parts, including batteries (which are now glued to the logic board), hard drives, and memory. In doing so, the prices for these components have steadily increased because of the added labor costs. Ultimately, the choice comes down to whether you’re willing to pay the price.

When faced with an eye-watering bill for a new logic board or laptop display, ask yourself: would I be better off putting that money toward a new Mac, that’s likely to have a greater life span in the longterm?

The Timing is Right

We say: Sometimes it’s worth waiting to make a new Mac purchase.

Most Macs receive an update on a yearly basis. When eying a purchase, it’s best to buy the most-current model available. It’s also a good idea not to buy a new Mac right before a new model is announced — for the same money you could have a faster machine, with better features and a potentially longer life span in terms of support.

The MacRumor Buyer’s Guide is an excellent resource for making sure you don’t fall foul of Apple’s update cycle. It provides some insight about when an update is likely arriving for each Mac model, based on historical trends and industry news.


If your Mac is already dead and you can’t wait, it’s a good idea to always buy the latest model available. Saving some money on an earlier model may sound tempting, but it could cost you in the long-run. The older the model, the closer it becomes to being vintage or obsolete, regardless of when you purchased it.

That said, we acknowledge that not everyone can afford to buy the latest model. For those of you who find youself on a tight budget, there’s a few things you can do to buy a Mac on the cheap.

Enjoy the Process

Buying a new Mac can be an enjoyable and frustrating process, all rolled into one. Because Apple’s hardware is generally of a high quality, however, we don’t have to replace our Macs all that often.


Use the Apple Hardware Test to Diagnose Problems

Use the Apple Hardware Test to Diagnose Problems

You can use the Apple Hardware Test (AHT) to diagnose issues you’re having with your Mac’s hardware. This can include problems with your Mac’s display, graphics, processor, memory, and storage. The Apple Hardware Test can be used to rule out most hardware failure as the culprit when you’re trying to troubleshoot problems you’re experiencing with your Mac.