Year-end Mac maintenance is always a good idea for your work laptop or desktop, but the 2021 holiday season is full of distractions. These 3 quick steps will help keep your Mac running steady in 2022.
There’s a lot of advice this time of year regarding routine steps you should take to ensure your work Mac is given a quick once over and that you’re ready for 2022. Most of the guidance is spot on. But sometimes the list simply runs too long: remove unneeded files, purge unused applications, run file permission and disk repair operations and similar. As this year marks the second pandemic holiday season in a row, with the Omicron variant spreading at a previously unprecedented rate, maintaining focus during the traditional holiday break is tough. So here’s a quick list of three simple steps you can take to help prepare your Mac for 2022.
- Confirm Time Machine backups are completing properly
You are using Time Machine, right? Despite widespread use of Apple iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive, don’t assume your data is fine and sufficiently protected just because your files are stored in the cloud. You can accidentally — even unknowingly — delete files you need and not discover the error until it’s too late. You might write over files you need, malware could corrupt your online files or you could suffer a different accident or disaster. Maintaining one — or even two — external hard drives, one of which is stored safely connected to nothing, thereby preventing accidental deletion, data corruption, malware infection or some other error, is a best practice I recommend.
SEE: macOS tune up checklist (TechRepublic Premium)
So leverage the natural pause that occurs with business activities around the holidays to check out your Mac’s Time Machine setup. Review your Mac’s Time Machine operations and confirm backups are completing properly to the Time Machine drives you use in rotation and resolve any errors you discover. The occasion is also a perfect opportunity to review the Time Machine backup settings and ensure you haven’t omitted any files, folders or directories from the backup. Sometimes backups begin with specific file shares, but over time we change the location where we store data and those previously excluded directories need to be added back into the backup routine.
To review Time Machine settings and status, click Finder, select Applications and double-click System Preferences, then select Time Machine. Review and clear any errors, such as that shown in Figure A, in which Time Machine is alerting the user (via the red I icon) that Time Machine couldn’t complete a backup to the “LaCie” drive because the disk could not be found.
In this specific case, I’d been traveling and hadn’t had an opportunity to physically connect the disk to permit a backup to complete, a problem resolved by connecting the indicated drive and permitting the backup time to run. You can confirm the status of directories being backed up, or excluded, by clicking the Options button and reviewing any items listed as excluded from the backup within the resulting window. From there you can make any required adjustments using the provided + and – icons.
2. Ensure iCloud remains properly associated with apps and content
Similar problems, in which a routine is set up and changes but we don’t remember to go back and adjust software configurations to account for the changes, occur with iCloud. Review iCloud settings and confirm the proper applications and file locations are configured as required by clicking Finder, selecting System Preferences and clicking Apple ID. Ensure iCloud is highlighted within the left-side navigation bar and review each of the applications and services, as shown in Figure B, to correct boxes that are checked, enabling data to be stored in the cloud as you intend.
Pay particular attention to iCloud Drive. Click the respective Options button, then review the various settings, as shown in Figure C. If you wish to back up files stored on your Mac’s Desktop and within the Documents folder to iCloud, ensure that checkbox is selected. Perform the same review for Messages, Numbers, Pages, Keynote and other iCloud-compatible apps and services listed within the iCloud Drive window.
While you’re reviewing your Mac’s iCloud configuration, check the free space remaining on the account. iCloud Storage status is displayed at the bottom of the Apple ID window. To purchase additional space, if needed, click the Manage button, then click the Change Storage Plan button to access various plans and pricing.
SEE: 10 MacOS tune-up tricks for your Mac (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
3. Run a quick cleanup
While a thoughtful, comprehensive tune-up is always recommended, so too is it a good idea to regularly rotate your tires, change furnace filters, replace flashlight batteries and aerate the lawn, but who has time to fulfill all those obligations? Instead, consider cheating by employing a Mac-specific utility designed just for such purposes.
CCLeaner’s $24.95 CCleaner Professional for Mac, MacPaw’s $34.95 CleanMyMac and WinZip System Tools’ $39.95 Mac Optimizer all offer system-cleaning utilities that help maintain business Macs with little to no disruption. Scheduling features assist pre-programming corresponding cleaning routines, which help reduce unneeded files, clean internet caches, purge unnecessary application remnants and tidy logs.
Running such cleanups two or three times a year is a good habit. But there’s no time like year-end to help yourself by installing and configuring such a time-saving utility to help your Mac run that much better in 2022, so have at it before you get too busy in the new year.