Put more spring into your Mac

April 10, 2013 

If your Mac (or any computer) is starting to feel a little slow there are a several things you can do to put some spring back into its step. Here are three to get you started.

Let's face it, with digital cameras we take more photos now than ever before. All those photos can start to slow down your photo management application, like iPhoto. The reality is, we don't need them all but we never delete them and this creates an unwieldy photo collection.

One of my favorite features of iPhoto is that it shows nice large previews of all your photos allowing for quick navigation of your photo collection. The more photos you have, the more resources your computer needs to load those previews. A large photo library can slow down iPhoto's responsiveness. To speed up iPhoto take an hour or two and delete some of those photos you don't need. After all do you really need 47 pictures of the kids with the Easter bunny?

This is easy to do and can be fun reliving those special moments. Also, make sure to empty the iPhoto trash when you are done. Now set a reminder to do this once a month.

Another common cause of slowdowns is an inadequate amount of memory. Every software upgrade you install on your computer is more power hungry than its predecessor. A few years of software upgrades can leave your

computer feeling sluggish.

Four years ago OS X ran great on 1-2GB of RAM. Today, OS X runs best with at least 4GB. Adding more memory, or RAM, will help put a little spring back into Mac's step.

Also remember to quit applications when you are done and restart your computer once every few weeks.

Another bottleneck on most computers is the hard drive. The hard drive stores all your data and is the slowest component of most computers. While adding more hard drive space won't help like adding more RAM, adding faster storage will make your Mac feel like new.

Solid-state drives, known as SSD, eliminate the spinning platters of a traditional hard drives that results in significantly improved performance. Upgrading to an SSD drive will decrease startup, application launch and file saving time. To test the speed an SSD can offer, I installed one in a 3-year-old, entry level MacBook and timed a few common tasks then compared it with the original hard drive. So how much of a difference does the SSD drive make on an older Mac? They say numbers don't lie, so lets look at the numbers.

Startup time with the original hard drive was 39 seconds with the SSD it was 13 seconds, or 3 times faster.

Exporting 400 photos from iPhoto took 2 minutes and 39 seconds on the hard drive and 1 minute and 43 seconds on the SSD, or 1.5 times faster.

Exporting a 30 minute podcast in Garageband took 3 minutes and 10 seconds on the hard drive and only 1 minute and 27 seconds on the SSD, or 2.2 times faster.

As you can see the SSD was significantly faster in all three tests. Saving a minute or two here and there may not seem like much but over the course of a year that really adds up.

If your old Mac is starting to feel a little slow you can install a few upgrades for a fraction of the price of buying a new Mac.

Spencer Blunden, Apple specialist with Computer Advantage, can be reached at 941-351-2415 or www.computeradvantage.us

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