Mac maintenance for a responsive system

Macs can get sluggish and misbehave, which maintenance can keep at bay. John Larkin asked a few of us what we did to keep our Macs in good working condition and this was my response, given that I usually try to maximise RAM on my laptop:

  1. My Powerbook is restarted every once in awhile, which might be in days or weeks. I don’t shut down when I shuttle between home, work, lectures and meetings but these days, the frequent system updates will force us to do this. Still, if the mac acts up, this is the first thing I do.
  2. More frequently, I restart my browser. Browsers can hog space after extended use so flushing that out helps.
  3. Keep an eye on RAM by only keeping open applications I am actually using at the moment. This is a habit from youthful struggles with insufficient RAM. I use Activity Monitor (in the Applications> Utilities folder) to examine and quit inactive apps whose relative thread and memory use is too high.
  4. I run Onyx perhaps every two months, using the scripts in “automation” for maintenance, rebuild and clean. Otherwise I use “Repair Disk” function in Disk Utilities (in the Applications > Utilities folder).
  5. I keep a buffer of empty hardisk space else the system can get sluggish for hardisk space is used for virtual memory. Recommendations vary, but once I am struggling to keep 10%, it’s time for a major cleanup or a new hardisk – like now!
  6. Empty Trash! I have a habit from OS 7 days but I am sometimes shocked by the gigabytes worth of deleted files some people carry. I think knowing the keybaord shortcut would solve that problem: Option-Shift-Command-Delete empties trash without a confirmation dialog.
  7. Keep the Desktop clean as this may consume RAM. Clean is a free app to help you do this, or just drag and drop into a folder every now and then. My “Desktop Cleanup” folder has more than 150 files occupying about 4GB.
  8. Backup data regularly.
  9. Keep applications updated. Most of what I use is listed here: http://macapps.sivasothi.com
  10. Reinstall the OS every 1-2 years. My laptops can usually last at least five years, so I end up doing complete reinstalls at least three times per laptop. One of the reinstalls would be when I insert an upgraded hardisk after inevitably running out of space with the factory-installed hard disk.

I did used to run Disk Warrior many years ago, but stopped updating it and forgot about it. It helped me with file recovery once.

Do you do anything else?

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