Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip #9 - Keeping Your Mac Speedy

At the beginning of the school year all of our Apple users started off with a newly reimaged computer fully optimized for speed and efficiency. However, as the year progresses you might notice some sluggishness. This week's Tech Tip consists of four ways you can keep your work Mac speedy and one additional idea for speeding up your computer at home.

1. Clear Off the Desktop
I know that many of you enjoy storing files on your desktop because it makes things easy to find, but it also slows down your computer significantly. The Desktop is basically the first screen the computer has to load and if it is loaded with tons of files it takes more time to render everything. Your Mac views all of the items on your Desktop as separate windows and is constantly generating thumbnail previews for them. A great idea is to try keeping items in folders, preferably not on your Desktop. Make use of Documents or even better - the Google Drive folder for automatic backups.

2. Restart Your Mac
When was the last time you restarted your computer? Can't remember? Restart it...right now! This process will likely solve any problems you are having and speed things up. As you launch programs and forget to quit them they continue to run in the background eating up overall computer performance. A quick restart is the fastest way to make sure quit all of these programs and as a tech once told me is the equivalent of "flushing the toilet" on errant programs.

3. Run Updates
Inevitably the Apple update message appears at the most inopportune time - right in the middle of a lesson or just as you are trying to respond to a time-sensitive email. However, remembering to go back and actually run the update when you have a moment is key to keeping you Mac performing its best. This process not only ensures your computer is protected from possible security vulnerabilities, but many updates are also fixes geared towards efficiency and performance. The same thing is true for other applications that have separate update tools including Microsoft Office and Chrome. Update...update...update.

4. Clear Out Some Space
When you save files your computer actually does not save the file in one continuous chunk. Instead, it breaks up the file into fragments that can fit in differently sized spaces. This helps your computer maximize its hard drive capacity. However, if you are getting close to having a completely full hard drive your computer will actually slow down because it is continuously attempting to break files into smaller and smaller chunks. Clearing out space so that you only store what you absolutely need is a quick way to speed up your computer.

5. Add RAM or Install an SSD - Personal Computers
When we purchase school computers we often maximize the amount of RAM and the speed of the hard drive as part of the order. However, when you purchased a personal device you might not have selected the same options. For example, when I bought my latest personal laptop I opted for the least expensive model. Within a year I was ready to throw it out the window. Fortunately, someone talked me into spending $250 on RAM and a new, much faster solid-state drive (SSD). After watching a YouTube video and spending about 15 minutes performing surgery on my Macbook Pro I suddenly had an amazing little machine. It was definitely the best $250 I have ever spent on a personal device. If your computer at home is slowing down before you purchase a new one do a little research and see if you can add any RAM or swap out your hard drive.

So take a few moments, and try out a few of these tricks. You should find that they speed things up nicely. I you have any questions simply let one of us in the IT Department know.


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