Macs are built to last, as Apple is very particular about using only quality components and meticulously engineering them to operate integratively in the best way possible. Many of our clients who use Macs hold onto them for five or more years (in one case almost 15 years!), while others may find themselves replacing non-Apple computers more frequently. However, just because a machine is still technically operational, doesn’t mean it’s working as well as it could — or should. Below are a few things to keep in mind if you’re considering purchasing a new Mac.
Apple’s extended warranty, AppleCare (now called AppleCare Plus), is a warranty that covers your Mac for up to 3 years. It’s well worth the price now that the extended plan covers standard warranty items plus accidental damage (the latter incurs a modest fee). After those 3 years of extended coverage, there is no option to buy more coverage, which means you’re on your own for repairs. A major fix for a computer could cost $800, and at that cost, you could buy a brand new machine. And that’s assuming Apple can even repair the machine out of warranty. Recently, Apple declared the 2011 Mac Minis obsolete, which means they will no longer accept them for repair except for a few locations worldwide. Even though 2011 doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, some companies (including Intel) have stopped manufacturing replacement parts for machines like the 2011 Mac Mini, which means Apple has an extremely limited supply of parts they can use to fix that computer.
How You Use Your Computer
You may use your computer in what you believe to be a pretty limited capacity, using it primarily for web browsing, checking email, and maybe storing your photos. While you may not be editing feature-length films on your computer, even these seemingly everyday tasks may not be functioning as well as they should. Your older version of iPhoto may store your photos, for example, but it can’t take advantage of iCloud Photo Library to automatically sync your pictures to and from your phone and/or iPad. As another example, if you’re using the Mail application to check your Gmail, Google is constantly redefining what it considers “safe” programs, so depending on your Mac’s operating system, you may have to use an unsecured mail connection to continue checking mail through Apple’s Mail app. And if you instead opt to check your mail through an older web browser, where you do all of your banking or online shopping or watch the latest hilarious cat video (there are so many), that might be a problem as well. Older versions of the Mac operating system do not allow the latest updates to Safari, Firefox, or Chrome, which means that securely checking mail or doing much of anything is going to be tough.
Your hardware outlasting your software becomes an issue with security updates as well. Apple regularly releases security updates for the Mac, but only for the most recent versions of Mac OS X. This means that if you have a ten year old machine, and cannot update to the latest version of the operating system, you’re likely running your computer with outdated security settings in all applications. If you are able to upgrade your operating system, by all means do so, as updated security is extremely important. If you’re unsure if your operating system can be updated, give us a call and with a little information about the computer, we can make a recommendation pretty quickly.
Other Things to Consider
Apple has a “product cycle” for each of its computers and devices, and while some are easier to predict than others, products are almost always updated at some point. For example, the iPhone is updated every year, and if you look at the release dates of the past three phones, you feel like you could set your watch to it. However, the update schedule for Apple’s computers is harder to predict. Most machines like the iMac, Macbook Pro, Macbook Air, and Macbook seem to receive a refresh every 300-400 days on average. Meanwhile, the Mac Mini hasn’t been updated in over 1100 days (since October 2014) and the Mac Pro in over 1200 days (since December 2013), although Apple has said that they do plan to update these devices soon.
One thing you’d likely prefer to avoid is purchasing a new computer, only to see an updated model released a short time later. If you’re concerned about this possibility, let us know which computer you’re thinking about purchasing. We can’t see the future, and there are no guarantees from Apple about product release dates until they’ve made an official announcement, but based on past release cycles we can tell you where the computer seems to be in Apple’s typical product cycle.
A computer is a big investment, and we understand that you want to get as much mileage out of it as possible. We also want to make sure that you’re using your computer safely, and that you’re able to take advantage of some really cool and convenient features that you might not have known you could. Give us a call if you’re thinking about upgrading, or are ready to, and we’ll be happy to guide you through the process.