Turning it off and back on – Is that the Magic Bullet?

Maybe your dad was right after all

All of us have gotten the advice at some point. When your electronic devices are acting up, simply turn the thing off – wait a few moments – and then turn it back on again. It’s amazing how universal that action can be to solve a world of electronic problems. But why is that? Why does that work so well so often?

A House of Cards

When you first turn on your Mac, iPhone, or cable modem, it’s like you begin to stack playing cards, one on top of the other. The longer the device is powered on, the taller and the more unstable the stack can become. The longer your gear is on, the further away it gets from optimum operating mode. And the more likely that performance will lag and stability will wane, even to the point of the device “freezing” or “crashing.” Turning it off and back on has the effect of starting over with your stack of cards. That’s the point at which the programming for your device is in the most “known” state. This potentially makes your device more unstable, and it upps the likelihood that unexpected behaviors will show up.

Putting your Mac laptop to sleep does not reset the system. I generally recommend either shutting down or restarting your Mac every other week for sure. If you have a desktop Mac that is always powered on, you can go to System Preferences:Energy Saver and set a weekly time for the Mac to restart itself. You can also create a weekly recurring calendar event to remind you to do a quick restart of your Mac.

As to iPhones and iPads, they seem to remain stable for months at a time (until they aren’t). Since a restart of an iOS device takes less than 2 minutes, I recommend doing that at least quarterly, or even once a month if you want to really stay on top of things. You can either press and hold the external power button to restart it, or go to Settings:General:Shut Down instead.

What Else Can I Do?

If your Mac is still exhibiting strange behavior, you could initiate a Safe Boot (instructions are here). When your web browser gets erratic, you can clear your browser’s cache, or run Malwarebytes. If your Mac or iOS device is still acting strange, you can upgrade to its maximum operating system. On the Mac, you’ll find that at Apple menu:System Preferences:Software Update, and on iOS devices, you’ll find it under Settings:General:Software Update.

Help Mr. Wizard!

We are here and happy to help you keep all of your Apple devices running smoothly and as fast as possible. Contact us if you would like some help!

Should you upgrade to MacOS 12 Monterey?

Mac OS Monterey

(Update: Apple released Monterey 12.1 December 13th, 2021, which fixed numerous bugs. We now recommend this upgrade, with the caveats listed below.)

Apple will release their most recent upgrade for Macintosh October 25th, called Mac OS 12 Monterey. (Yet another in the series of California-themed packages like Big Sur, Catalina and Mojave.)

For the most part, last year’s macOS 11 Big Sur release has proven to be relatively solid, with far fewer complaints than previous upgrades. Some beta testers believe that macOS 12 Monterey is more of a refinement upgrade, without the major architectural changes that marked Big Sur and Catalina. That would suggest more stability and the possibility of an easier and earlier upgrade.

macOS 12 Monterey is looking to integrate all your Apple devices much more seamlessly than ever before, and it’s getting a lot of changes that will make it the best version to update to. Big Sur was the first macOS to bring constant integration with other iOS devices, and Monterey is looking to improve that. Here is a quick look at the new upgrades that are going to take place with Monterey over Big Sur:

  • Seamless and Universal Control across all Apple Devices
  • Spatial Audio support
  • AirPlay being introduced in macOS
  • Improved FaceTime and audio features
  • Newly designed Safari and extensions
  • Automation and Focus increases productivity
  • Under the hood improvements for Notes and iCloud
  • Improved Performance throughout the UI
  • Privacy improvements for the OS and User

All these design and performance upgrades are looking to change the overall experience of how you use your Mac and make it a whole lot better and tightly integrated, compared to Big Sur.

So, should you upgrade to macOS Monterey?

Here’s a list of the models the can run Monterey:

  • iMac – Late 2015 and later
  • iMac Pro – 2017 and later
  • MacBook – Early 2016 and later
  • MacBook Air – Early 2015 and later
  • MacBook Pro – Early 2015 and later
  • Mac Pro – Late 2013 and later
  • Mac mini – Late 2014 and later

If you’re someone who has crucial data that you can’t risk losing at all and are happy with how Big Sur is performing for you, then stay as you are, and hold back on the update and let it roll out to see how it fares with your device and how stable it is to use.

An Ounce of Prevention…

If you are ready to dive in, as always, the very first thing to do is to make a solid backup of your existing data. RoaringApps has a full listing of which apps are compatible with Monterey and which are not. Also note that the installer download is over 12Gb huge, and you will need plenty of hard drive space for the install to complete.

Want some help with that?

Contact Us if you would like some help with making your transition to Monterey as smooth and as safe as possible. We will get it done!

Mac OS Big Sur: Is It Too Big to Upgrade?

Mac OS X Big Sur

(Update 2/1/2021 – Apple released their Big Sur 11.2 update, and we now give this a thumbs-up, after you have read the entire article below.)

Apple this week finally released their latest operating system for the Mac, Mac OS Big Sur.

We’ll start with the hardest decision—when should you upgrade to macOS 11 Big Sur? Last year, macOS 10.15 Catalina shipped with quite a few problems. We recommended holding off on the upgrade for most people for at least several months. For many of our clients, we’ve recommended staying on 10.14 Mojave for the time being. It’s too early to have a sense of how stable Big Sur will be. But we hope that Apple will have learned its lesson with Catalina and will have shipped a more stable release. 

Note that Big Sur requires a Mac released in 2013 or later; some 2012 models that were compatible with Catalina won’t be able to make the trip to Big Sur.

Apple has put a lot of design effort into the user interface of Big Sur. Windows, menus, dialogs, sidebars, and even icons have all received design updates. You may or may not like the new look more than the old, but again, it’s not a big reason to upgrade quickly for most people.

On the plus side, Apple has worked on smaller features that might improve your everyday user experience. It features a new Control Center, similar to what you’re accustomed to on the iPhone and iPad. It also provides quick access to controls from System Preferences in a single place. Notifications are now grouped by thread or app, and interactive notifications let you do more without opening the associated app.

There’s an App for That…

Safari receives a new start page, shows more tabs at once, displays a preview of a site when you hover over a tab, translates pages into seven languages, provides more privacy details, and checks if your passwords have been involved in a data breach. Messages lets you pin important conversations, thread messages in group conversations, and direct messages to individuals in a group conversation with an @name. Apps such as Photos, Reminders, and Notes also get enhancements, and your AirPods will switch between your devices more seamlessly.

So our advice is to stick with your current version of macOS for now, while Apple, Mac developers, and the Mac community figure out how to sand down the rough edges in everyday Big Sur use.

We recommend waiting until at least version 11.2 before upgrading. That allows time for Apple to resolve any unanticipated problems. However, if you are determined to install Apple’s latest “new and shiny,” make sure you have a solid backup of all your data first. RoaringApps has a full listing of which apps are compatible with Big Sur and which are not. Also note that the installer download is over 12Gb huge, and you will need plenty of hard drive space for the install to complete.

Just like it is in Catalina, 32-bit apps such as Microsoft Office 2011 will not work in Big Sur. You will need a functional alternative to open your Office documents. Fortunately, we have an article about that.

Apple has their own page that will tell you everything they want you to know about it.

Want Some Help With That?

Contact Us if you would like some help with making your transition to Big Sur as smooth and as safe as possible. We will get it done!

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