Category Archives: Macintosh Repair

Speed up your Mac: Clean off your desktop!

Cluttered Mac OS X Desktop

Do you really need this many files on the desktop?

Here’s a really easy and effective way to speed up your aging Mac: Clean off your desktop! That’s right, by reducing the amount of icons you keep on the desktop (we’ve seen upwards of 250 icons on some computers), you will reduce the strain on the Mac OS X window server to draw all of those little icons.

Icons or windows?

Apparently, the icons that you see on your Mac’s desktop count as windows–small, redrawn windows. This basically means that the software that is tasked to draw and keep track of these windows, the WindowServer, has to work overtime to constantly show you these small windows. This translates to a load on the WindowServer, which translates into a speed penalty. By removing all of these icons on the desktop, you can help an older Mac to speed up a bit in the long run and give its WindowServer a break.

How do I clean off hundreds of desktop icons?

The easiest way we have found to keep the desktop clean, is to use a software program called “Hazel,” which we have talked about before on this blog. This is a simple utility that brings powerful rules to your computer, and allows you to not worry about keeping your files neat and tidy. For example, we have a Hazel rule that states “if any JPG hits the desktop, put it into our images folder located in the documents folder.” This works with any type of file and immediately makes the challenging task of keeping the Mac OS X desktop clean a manageable task for anyone.

Some bonus speed tips.

The Mac OS X also has a lot of “eye candy” going on throughout the system, including shadows, animations and transparency. By turning all of this off, you can also give the WindowServer and other processes that have to draw these effects a break. Some of the things to turn off to help speed up your Mac include:

  • System Preferences –> Dock –> Uncheck “animate opening applications”
  • System Preferences –> Dock –> Check “automatically hide and show the dock” which will make your dock disappear until you roll your mouse over it.
  • System Preferences –> Dock –> Uncheck “Magnification”
  • System Preferences –> Accessibility –> Check “Reduce Transparency”
  • Upgrade to an ultra-fast Solid State Hard Drive
  • Upgrade your RAM to the maximum amount for your machine. Contact Capital Mac for advice on this.
  • Keep your hard drive relatively clean–if it’s full or nearing full, the computer will feel like it’s running in molasses.

Mac Solid State Hard Drive (SSD) Upgrades: 5 Things You Need to Know

SSD Macintosh Upgrades

Speed up your slow Macintosh with a FAST SSD drive!

One of the best inventions over the last few years has definitely been the solid state hard drive, or SSD for short. Hard drive technology has taken a radical turn with the advent of the SSD drive, bringing many benefits to your aging Macintosh computer. Why is my mac computer slow? In this post, Capital Mac Service will explain 5 things you need to know before upgrading to this exciting new technology, which is now in reach to any Macintosh user and finally at affordable rates.

Speed is king in a Solid State Hard Drive.

Hard Drive vs. SSD Speed on a Mac

Witness the performance increase on a Mac from a solid state hard drive, seen in this speed chart–longer bars are faster!

  • Why is my mac computer running slow? Today’s solid state drive (SSD) upgrades will bring a new level of speed to your aging Macintosh computer. Most of our client interactions begin the same way: “My computer is so slow! It wasn’t like that when I bought it.” There’s good reason for this–old fashioned hard drives begin to slow down as they age, eventually failing completely. This translates into day to day speed degrading on your beloved Macintosh. An SSD will not only return you to early day speeds, but, it will sometimes eclipse the speed of your original hard drive by multiples. See some of the Capital Mac Service before and after SSD conversion videos here and prepare to be amazed–these are real client computers!

No moving parts.

Hard Drive vs. Solid State Drive internally

On the left is an old-fashioned hard drive with moving parts. On the right, an SSD with no moving parts to slow it down.

The reason most old-fashioned hard drives fail is because they are built with moving parts–many moving and delicate parts. These hard drives spin like an old record player at about 5,400 RPM–that means they spin almost 6,000 every minute while in use. The arm that reads the data on this spinning disk is delicate and will usually be the failure point of these hard drives–you may even hear it “clicking” when it dies. Solid State hard drives on the other hand, have no moving parts whatsoever. This translates into longer life and much faster response time.

SSD Drives are affordable, now more than ever.

SSD Pricing declining year over year

The price of an average Solid State Hard Drive is dropping dramatically as seen in this graph from a few years back

The prices of solid state hard drives have fallen dramatically over the last few years. This means that Capital Mac Service can now offer very competitive pricing on these exciting SSD upgrades. If your computer is in good working order, we can usually even transfer all of your current data from the old hard drive to the new SSD drive. We offer a variety of sizes on the SSD upgrade, from 128GB, all the way to 1TB if needed. Contact Capital Mac Service today for this amazing upgrade opportunity before you look at a new Macintosh.

Some Quiet, please.

Another benefit of the SSD upgrade on your Macintosh is the noise factor–SSD hard drives are silent since they have no moving parts. This means that you will virtually never hear anything coming from your hard drive bay, since there is no spinning disk anymore!

Hard Drive Vs. SSD Power Consumption Rates

This graph shows the power consumption of a standard hard drive vs. a Solid State hard drive…lower bars are better!

Better battery life with an SSD.

Because there are no moving parts or motors to drive, your Mac’s battery will thank you for upgrading to a new SSD drive. Power requirements are much less with an SSD, which translates to longer battery life on your portable Macintosh.

Scratched Hard Drive Platter

Here we can see a scratch on a hard drive platter after being dropped. Chances of data recovery are almost 0% in this case. Solid State Hard Drives don’t have this issue!

Reliability and less accidental failures.

If you have ever dropped your Macintosh laptop, the first thing that will usually become damaged is the internal hard drive. It’s similar to dropping an old-fashioned record player onto the floor while playing a record. Bad drops are usually the death knell for a Macintosh hard drive. With a SSD upgrade, your hard drive’s chances of survival increase to almost 100%. Since there are no moving parts in an SSD, there’s nothing to damage. SSD drives are also slated to last longer than a traditional hard drive. SSD drives have a predictable rate in which they can no longer accept or write data, unlike a standard hard drive.

SSD Macintosh Upgrades Before and AfterCapital Mac Service is a local SSD Upgrade leader.

Capital Mac Service has been installing SSD hard drives into older Macintosh computers in the Capital District for the last 3 years–we have the experience and knowledge to get the right SSD for your Macintosh and install it correctly and quickly. Most SSD upgrades are either same day upgrades, or, 24 hours at most. While your hard drive is currently working, contact us for a quote on this exciting new upgrade that will breathe life into your older Macintosh!

Blast From The Past: Want to Repair Your Own Mac? Don’t Bother.

This was an editorial that I wrote about 4 years ago! Here it is in all of its glory:

 

Want to Repair Your Own Mac? Don’t Bother.

A good portion of today’s Mac users are obviously switching from the Microsoft Windows world, and in their own time were used to many givens in that world. One of those givens was the ability to be able to literally rip open a PC and fix, tinker and repair your way to a working computer. I often hear of PC users replacing motherboards, modding cases, adding and subtracting hard drives and optical drives, but, I rarely ever hear a new iMac owner saying things like “Wow, I just replaced my logic board and upgraded the processor while I was in there for the fun of it,” or, “Boy, my 2 terabytes of hard drive space spread over my 4 hard drives really makes my Mac much better to work with.” The reason you don’t hear these statements coming from a Mac user is simply because Apple doesn’t want nor allow you to easily perform these types of upgrades or repairs on most Macintosh hardware.

Ever since the early days of the Macintosh, Apple has had a love-hate relationship with those users who have technical backgrounds enough to repair or upgrade their own machines. The stories call back to the days when there were fights within the early days of Apple as to whether to allow something as simple as a ram upgrade to be handled by the customer or, whether to even allow expansion slots in the early Macs. Often, the company won this battle owning to the fact that customers tinkering around inside machines could bring the said computer to its demise and hold the company responsible for any futher repair work. So, the expansion slots and various other upgrades just weren’t offered on most Macintoshes, and even to this day, repairing or upgrading your own Mac is often either impossible or very difficult compared to the average PC.

Most veteran Macintosh users are fairly savvy when it comes to upgrading or making simple repairs on their computers. For whatever reason, this concept seems to be lost on this select pool of users who could do these upgrades and repairs without having to bother the Apple service centers. Does Apple purposely design the computers to be impossible to work on for any specific reason? In the last five or more years, Apple has built its entire business on converting the masses from the PC world to the Macintosh world, however, one of the very reasons it can be useful to work on the PC is the fact that you can easily change out mostly any part you wish. I feel strongly that Apple has either lost sight of this fact, or, there’s an underlying reason as to why it’s just plain difficult (or next to impossible) to swap out any parts on a Mac, except ram.

Oddly enough, during the reign of the recent iMac G5’s (now discontinued, of course) Apple allowed full customer access to the innards of the computer for the very first time, other than previous pro-level G4 and G5 towers here and there. Even better, a customer could order replacement parts for the iMac right from Apple, including power supplies, optical drives, and even logic boards if you were so inclined to swap these out yourself. I thought that was a revolutionary step for Apple, allowing complete access to any part of the machine, and even encouraging you to attempt these repairs yourself with detailed guides to help you along. Unfortunately, almost as soon as it began, those particular iMacs were discontinued in favor of the newer iMacs which now included the integrated iSight cameras. Now if you have ever seen the take apart guides for the iSight iMac, you will be utterly amazed on how anti-repairable these machines are. You literally have to open the machine by jamming a credit card into the back ventilation slot to try to disengage the hidden tabs that may or may not even be reachable. This can take upwards of at least ten minutes just to get the back case off. Then, you have to remove hidden screws around the display to get to the guts of the machine without damaging the video cables first. Now, on a similarly-equipped PC, a simple hard drive swap would take you roughly five to ten minutes, not counting the Windows installation. As I mentioned, it can take ten to fifteen minutes just to get the back case of these iMacs off!

Apple needs to make this the final nail in the coffin of trying to get the masses to move to the Macintosh; simple repairs. I don’t want to have to take my machine to the repair center every time a logic board or hard drive blows apart and I’m sure PC users feel the same. Allow the users to get in and get their hands dirty with repairs or upgrades; if they damage anything then they can be responsible for it. Chances are, if they damage something, given easy access, they can simply repair it themselves instead of being blamed by Apple that they broke it while tinkering around inside the machine. At the very least, allow the users access to the main components such as the hard drive and optical drives with easy to access panels. This would cut down useless trips to the service centers, which are clogged up with repairs that could easily be attempted by the more savvy users who aren’t afraid of the screwdriver.

 

An easy $13 bucks now can save you $755 on Macbook liquid damage later

Macbook Keyboard CoverA very common occurrence I used to hear more than a few times at the Apple Store when I was working as a Mac Genius, was “Someone at the coffee shop spilled some coffee on my keyboard.” Now, clearly someone was at fault here, and, it may not have been the owner. However, the end result is the same–a trip to the Apple Store with $755 in hand for your computer to be rebuilt, no questions asked.

Here’s a quick alternative that may help save the day next time, or, at very least buy you some time to get the liquid under control. For a cool $13 plus shipping, you can get yourself a simple silicone cover (click here for purchase details) that can close up the entryway from the keyboard into your logic board and components underneath. At the very least, it will probably save your top case (the part where the keyboard is) from shorting out and needing replacement.

The new Capital Mac Service Macbook Retina will certainly have one of these simple tools to help ward off potential disaster!

My older Macbook’s trackpad no longer clicks. What gives?

Swollen Macbook Battery

Swollen Macbook Battery

The very first inking that most people will think of when an older Macbook or Macbook Pro‘s trackpad won’t physically click is that the trackpad is malfunctioning due to age. A little secret in this situation is that it may not have anything to do with the trackpad at all. What causes this a lot of the time is the…wait for it…the battery! Before you call hogwash, a big culprit to a non-clicking trackpad is simply your old, worn out battery beginning to swell up inside the computer like a balloon. Eventually, this battery swells to the point that it physically presses up on the poor trackpad, which causes it not to click anymore. If you have a removable battery, test this theory by removing the battery and then trying to click–I bet it returns to normal, no? If you have a non-removable battery, then contact Capital Mac Service for a visit and we can take a look to see if this is the culprit and get you a new battery–and hopefully not a new trackpad.

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