Archive

Archive for the ‘Computer Tips’ Category

It’s Time To Add Antivirus Software To Protect Your Mac

July 6, 2018 Comments off

Title

(Silver Spring, Md.)  It’s been a long time coming, but it is now time for you to seriously consider adding antivirus software for your Mac.

The reason is actually very simple. Our Macs have been around for a long time, grown in popularity and numbers and hackers have taken notice. Over the past few years, there have been increasing reports of vulnerabilities in the Mac OS (that Apple may or may not fix), security issues, ransomware and much more.

So we’re at a point here at MacRecycleClinic where we’ve decided to add a free version of Avast (rated as the best free antivirus software for the Mac by MacWorld) to every machine we refurbish for donation.  I would strongly recommend you read their article (or search online – there are many more) and make a decision for yourself. As you’ll see, the best paid programs offer everything from malware protection to ransomware monitoring and much more.

Macworld author Glenn Fleishman notes that “antivirus software should be able to neutralize a threat before it can begin wreaking havoc. That means preventing the download, installation, or execution of malicious software.”

For our purposes, Avast will do a fine job as freeware on our refurbished Macs. If the user (the person or family to whom we donate a machine) wants more protection, they can either move to the paid version of Avast or try one of the other companies that sell antivirus software (Avast Pro is $59.99 per year.)

I will note that the U.S. Government has banned one company selling antivirus software – Kaspersky Labs – because of “fears of Russian intelligence.”

Read more…

Must-Read Articles

October 5, 2017 Comments off

From time-to-time, we’ll post links to articles in this file you will likely find of particular interest. Send us a link (in comments)  if there’s something you feel our readers need to know about!

 

Keranger: the first “in-the-wild” ransomware for Macs. But certainly not the last.

Macworld.com

“Keranger was the first – but now experts see ransomware-as-a-service that enables interested ‘customers’ to purchase Mac-hostile ransomware.”

KRACK Wi-Fi vulnerabilities and the Mac OS/iOS Universe

MacRumors.com

“Apple has already patched serious vulnerabilities in the WPA2 Wi-Fi standard that protects many modern Wi-Fi networks, the company told iMore’s Rene Ritchie this morning.“

Russian Hackers Stole NSA Data on U.S. Cyber Defense (Kaspersky Labs)
Wall Street Journal

The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab…

Critical Code in Millions of Macs Isn’t Getting Apple’s Updates
Wired

Researchers dug into the deep-seated, arcane code in Apple machines known as EFI, and found it’s often dangerously neglected. Read the full story

Testing Your Mac’s Hardware & RAM

October 2, 2017 Comments off

screen-shot-2017-09-30-at-10-51-28-am1.png

Photo: Public Domain via Google Search.

Updated Oct. 3, 2017 to include Micromat’s Atomic software:

SILVER SPRING, Md. (Sept. 29) We’ve been looking at ways to test computer RAM from the Macs we get donated to MacRecycleClinic.

Most of the time, we turn on the machine to see if it works. If there’s a problem (and many times there are any number of issues), we pull the memory and plug it into a new Mac of the same vintage and hope it works. Sometimes the Mac will flash it’s “on-off” light on the front to say something was not quite right (sometimes you have to insert the same memory in pairs). But how can you actually test RAM? There are three basic ways to do that – the expensive way, the 3rd party software way and the inexpensive (Apple provided) way.

    1. You can go with a hardware solution – purchasing a RAM testbed that will check out the memory chips and provide a robust report. But the solution is expensive – and requires the purchase of additional plug-in “cards” that are designed to work with the machine – each plug-in is designed for a specific kind of long, or short RAM. The costs can run upwards of $1000.00! One example: See this YouTube video about the Ramcheck LX
    2. Micromat sells a software suite called Atomic – which they bill as “The most comprehensive memory tester for the Mac.” We haven’t been able to try it out yet – so if any of you have – please give us some comments below about the program. By the way – it works with OS X 10.9 or greater, including macOS 10.12 ‘Sierra’ (and we’ll assume 10.13 – High Sierra now). Cost is $29.99 unless you are a previous Micromat customer, in which case, the cost is $19.99. NOTE: TechTool Pro 9 also includes a memory test as part of it’s software offerings.
    3. Use the Mac’s built-in software Hardware Test Suite. Macs, going back to machines from 2000 or so, have built-in hardward diagnostics that offers a more cost-effective solution (as in, free!). We MRC volunteers approve of that! 🙂

    Using the Hardware Test Suite

    Unlike Disk Utility, the hardware test is not an app per se, but requires you to restart your machine and press the “D” key during startup. In some instances, I’ve seen tutorials call for Option + D – but just “D” may be enough in most instances.

      1. Restart your Mac and at the chime, press “D” or “Option + D” and wait for your computer to boot.
      2. You’ll be presented with a screen showing a turning globe and drop-down box to select your wireless network. Go ahead and choose the network and plug in the password on the next screen. Continue.
      3. Once that’s done, the “Apple Hardware Test” screen will open. Choose your language of choice (English is highlighted by default.
      4. Move to the next panel to get to the actual test screen. You’re almost there!IMG_5773 2
      5. To perform the hardware test all you have to do is click on the “Test” button or, as the instructions indicate, press the “T” key. Be ready to wait a bit while the tests are performed. Note the box under the progress screen where your results will be displayed. If you have any RAM issues (or other hardware problems) this is where you’ll find the results.IMG_5775 2
      6. If you do have an issue with the RAM, you’ll need to replace the memory since it is not something that’s “fixable.”

    There are a number of good places to purchase memory – but be sure to ask us first as we have a robust collection of RAM that we sell inexpensively. That said, if you want new, choices range from Amazon and Best Buy to Crucial, and many others. But we usually recommend memoryx.com to our MRC Clinic visitors (we’ll help you purchase the correct RAM).

    Remember that in some cases, your Mac will need not one but two memory cards (usually matched) to work correctly. You can get help from your MRC volunteers, on the memoryx website (by computer type and year it was built) or you can use the MacTracker app on you Mac or IOS device.

    • There are many more resources on the web to help you if you’re interested in learning more about the Hardware Test Suite:CNET: How to Test the RAM on Your Mac

      YouTube
      : There are a number of great videos – click on the link and you’ll be at a search screen with a number of choices.
    • Memoryx.com also has helpful videos that explain HOW to install RAM. But if you’re uncomfortable with doing that, bring it in to the MRC most Monday nights and we’ll be happy to help.

Tips to Fix a Slow-Starting Mac

September 5, 2017 Comments off

SILVER SPRING Md. (Sept. 5) – We come across all kinds of issues with older Macs at the MacRecycleClinic. Some are easily fixed. Others want to make you pull your hair out. But as we’ve gained experience in fixing these computers, there seems to be a set of solutions that usually will take care of the problem (short of reformatting the drive and installing a new version of the OS).

So here are some great tips to help you get your Mac loading faster – and hopefully operating in a way that will let you hold on to your hair. 🙂

Let’s start with a couple of old standbys:

  • Repair permissions on your Mac. It’s pretty easy to do if you’re running OSX Yosemite or earlier (Intel):

If you’re running El Capitan (10.11) or Sierra (10.12)  it’s a little more complicated because Apple has removed that capability from Disk Utility. Apple says:

But if you must,  there’s a way around that. (Thanks OSXDaily:)

  • Reset the PRAM (NVRam) (PRAM/NVRAM (nonvolatile random-access memory) is a small amount of memory that your Mac uses to store certain settings and access them quickly.)


Still having trouble or want to try something else – try these tips from our MRC Guru Lorin Evans:

  • Has the owner added any applications or ‘things’ since receiving the computer from you? If ‘yes’, have him/her download “Malwarebytes” and run it to make sure these new applications/things do not contain questionable stuff. (Video courtesy of Malwarebytes.)

 

 

 

  • Go to Startup Disk in System Preferences.

Be sure that the HD icon is selected. Lock and/or unlock as necessary to gain access to this item.

  • Stay in System Preferences. Go to Users & Groups. Click on “Login Items.” Are there any items there that the system wants to start at “startup”? If ‘yes’, delete the icon for that item.

  • Start Disk Utility (Applications ->Utilities->Disk Utility.app). Select the HD from the left column. Now look at the S.M.A.R.T. status line. Make sure it reads: “Verified”

  • Start the computer in ‘safe’ mode. Give it a minute or two after the desktop appears; then restart normally.

Got your own tips for speeding up a slow Mac? Let us know!

%d bloggers like this: