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A Clean and Happy Mac

A Clean and Happy Mac
December 2, 2010

by Ondrej Krehel

Speed Up Your Mac with These Simple Tips

Last week we looked at tips for maintaining a PC. This week we’re turning to Mac OS X. Generally speaking, OS X is more stable than Windows desktops and requires less user maintenance. Yet there are a few things you can do to revive an older or slow Mac.

First, delete any Applications you don’t use. Usually there’s no straightforward way to delete Mac apps. Simply trashing them could leave some information behind in the system, such as preferences and application support files. But there are plenty of shareware deleter programs out there, such as AppCleaner, AppTrap and AppZapper. Also, applications may have their own uninstall script, included in the installation menu.

Next, check your drive health. OS X has a native solution in Disk Utility. Run the program, then click “Verify Disk Permissions” and “Verify Disk.” If it is then recommended, click “Repair Disk Permissions” and “Repair Disk.”

Now that your drive is lighter and in good running order, run a Software Update. You should automate this process as it will keep your computer on top of the latest performance and security patches. Don’t forget to run software updates on third party applications, such as MS Office.

When tha's done, determine which programs automatically load when you boot your Mac. In System Preferences, click on Accounts. You’ll see a list of “Login Items.” The fewer items selected, the more resources will be available on your Mac and the faster it will run. Some items you might want to keep running, such as iTunesHelper, which helps recognize your iPhone or iPod. If you don’t know what the program does, simply Google it to decide if i's worth running right from startup. More advanced users can review the processes in the command line via “ps ax” command, and disable unnecessary ones.

Lastly, think about your Cron scripts, which are usually set to run daily, weekly and monthly. These scripts generate log files and remove old ones. They are automatically scheduled to run at a specified time, usually nighttime. If you regularly restart your Mac and the computer regularly sleeps or is shut down at the scheduled times, i's possible that the scripts will never run. If they don’t run, your old log files are not deleted, thus cluttering your system. There are several different ways to maintain your Cron scripts and data associated with them. We’re partial to Onyx. This freeware app can also delete your system and file caches, among other utility sweeps. I's certainly worth exploring.

And at the end, don’t forget to empty your Trash. Always choose secure deletion.

Ondrej Krehel, Chief Information Security Officer, Identity Theft 911

Ondrej has more than a decade of network and computer security experience. His expertise extends to investigations of intellectual property theft, massive deletions, defragmentation, anti-money laundering and computer hacking. He led U.S. computer security projects at Stroz Friedberg and worked in IT security at Loews Corp.

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