Remember how zippy your Mac was when you first got it? How it booted up in a snap, and switched fast between apps? At Storm, we live for breathing new life into broken devices—but what if your Mac is just wheezing and slow?
Afterall you’ve been through together, you don’t want to just throw it away. Should you sell it? Leave it unplugged in a drawer for a few more years (until you feel less guilty about throwing it away)?
Has the spinning beach ball of death become a familiar sight on your Mac?
Answer: none of the above. Upgrading your Mac is an amazingly effective option, and it’s both cheaper and easier than you might expect. With a brand-new SSD and high-capacity RAM, your aging Mac will be running better than new—in no time flat.
TO SSD, OR NOT TO SSD
First things first: an SSD upgrade is, hands down, the best way to speed up your computer.
There’s lots of information on the benefits of SSDs versus HDDs, but here’s the short version: Unlike an old-fashioned hard disk drive (HDD), which stores the computer’s info on a spinning metal platter, a solid-state drive (SSD) stores the information in silicon chips. Because there are no moving parts in an SSD, they can read and write information up to 10 times faster than a traditional HDD. This means that boot times, application launch times, and data retrieval get much, much faster when you use an SSD as the primary storage for your computer.
Moreover, SSDs are more resistant to shock, vibration, and movement—making them particularly suited to laptops and other devices that are subject to sudden knocks and bumps.
MAX OUT YOUR MEMORY
If you find yourself staring at OS X’s spinning beach ball more often than you’d like, then RAM is the answer. RAM is your Mac’s short-term memory—meaning every time the system opens a program or process, it loads it into RAM.
If the system needs to juggle more applications than the RAM can hold, it must offload some of them to a temporary storage area on the hard drive (called the swap file). This eats resources, slowing everything down to a crawl. It’s a bit like if you were cooking a complicated new recipe when suddenly you run out of countertop space and all your cutting boards are full—you’d have to drop everything while you move stuff around and feverishly try to clear enough space to work. Meanwhile, your crock pot is boiling over and the smoke alarm is going off.
I don’t really understand how cooking works, but if only you’d had more RAM, this probably wouldn’t have happened. Imagine how many tabs you could have open at once with all that RAM! Not too long ago, many Macs shipped with 2 (or fewer) GB of RAM—an amount that would quickly fill up with today’s resource-hungry software. But as our favorite software companies continue to add new features and make our digital lives cooler and fancier, our old RAM-limited hardware increasingly struggles to keep up. Fortunately, in most cases, this is an easy fix.
One important caveat about RAM upgrades is that the amount of RAM your Mac can utilize is limited by the rest of the hardware in the computer. Not all computers can handle 16 GB of RAM and figuring out which computers can handle which RAM configuration can be tricky sometimes.