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Is your Mac running too slow?

Apple’s Macintosh, and iMac computers have a great reputation in the industry for working well with few errors. For this reason, many people are able to hold on to and use the computers for years. Of course, this means that these same users will eventually notice that their computers are performing slower than some newer model PCs. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to improve the speed of your Mac.

fixing a mac

Software Fixes

Over time, a computer can become cluttered with programs that are downloaded onto it. This can include programs and apps that you’ve chosen to download onto your computer, as well as spyware and adware that has been downloaded onto your computer without your knowledge. While Macs have a good reputation for running programs that block a lot of adware and spyware, over several years it is possible to download enough of these programs that you will notice a difference in speed on your computer.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to fix this issue. Start by opening your Applications and Downloads folder. This folder contains everything that has ever been downloaded onto your computer. If you see programs that you don’t remember downloading and/or ones you don’t need anymore, move them to the Trash.

Simply moving these programs to the Trash won’t erase every trade of them on your computer, however. Most programs leave behind files and fragments of programs that can continue to slow down your computer. Getting rid of these fragments can be much trickier. You can wait for your Mac to purge these files on its own (there is built-in software that will take care of this, but it can take a while for it recognize which files are junk), or purchase a defragmenter or uninstaller programmer to take care of it immediately. Often, simply restarting the computer after deleting your old programs and large files will purge most of the problem files and fragments.

Next, shift your attention to the remaining programs. While these might be apps that you use on a daily basis, it’s possible that over time the permissions for these programs have changed. This can mean that your favorite programs are interfering with the functioning of other applications on your Mac. To fix this, run the Disk Utility on your Mac. This built-in programs will essentially reshuffle the remaining program files to help your computer run more efficiently.

Once you’ve eliminated or fixed your problem programs and files, take a look at your startup time. If you’ve noticed that it seems to take forever for your computer to boot up, odds are you have too many programs trying to open when you turn on your computer. To reduce this problem, go to Systems and Preferences, then click on Users and Groups. From this menu, click on Login Items. This will open a list of every programs that opens when you turn on your Mac. Turn off the programs you don’t want to open by clicking the box next to the program. Don’t worry about turning off too many things; it’s always possible to open them manually once your computer is at the home screen.

Finally, make sure that you keep up with the software updates for your computer. Apple is pretty good about releasing new versions of OS X that help to eliminate or reduce many of the issues that can cause your computer run too slowly. Updates to other software programs, such as Pages and iTunes, can also help to reduce load times and other issues. Regular updates will go a long way towards keeping your computer running at optimal speed.

To keep these problems from cropping up in the future, remember to take the time at least twice a year to cleanup your computer and delete old programs. Also make sure to avoid downloading a lot of freeware and other apps that contain ad and spyware. Using these programs can make it hard for the pre-installed software on your Mac to determine what is a useful program and what should be eliminated.

Hardware Fixes

hardwareIf you have cleaned up all of your software issues, but you still believe your computer is running too slowly, it’s time to look at hardware upgrades. While many people with Windows-based computers have been told it’s cheaper or makes more economic sense to simply replace their computer rather than swap out components, the high price of a Mac often makes it a better idea to replace some components rather than buy something completely new. In order to increase your computer’s speed, the two best fixes are to upgrade to an SSD or add more memory.

An SSD upgrade can run between $200 and $500, but it is one of the best things you can do to improve your Mac’s performance. Essentially, you’ll be removing the traditional spinning hard drive in your computer for a solid-state component. If you’re good with computer equipment and you’re willing to read a few online tutorials, it is possible to do this upgrade yourself in a little less than an hour. Otherwise, you’ll want to hire someone to do this for you. Look for a local computer repair service that has experience working on Macs.

You may also want to consider adding more memory, known as RAM. Odds are that your Mac already has two RAM slots with card in them already. To upgrade your RAM, you will have to purchase a new card and replace your existing RAM. Depending on your desired speed, this repair can cost between $100 and $400.

The important thing to remember if you decide to replace your RAM on your own is to find RAM cards that fit your specific computer. Take a look at Apple’s support pages to find out exactly what you need to buy for your model of Mac. The company has also published a good illustrated guide to replacing your own RAM. This fix is relatively simple on most Macs, but if you’re concerned about voiding your warranty or not backing up your system before the switch, it may make sense to spend a little extra money to hire a professional.

Buying a Mac computer is an investment, and it’s not unreasonable to expect your Mac to run well for years. This doesn’t mean that your computer won’t experience slower speeds over a long period of time, however. Start by completing as many fixes and repairs to the software as your can before considering upgrading your hardware. Also be sure to take the time to learn how to perform all of these repairs before you get your screwdrivers out.

What do you think?