Perhaps, between this month’s tinselly advertisements, you’ve heard that this is the Season of Giving. While many people consider the name nothing more than an invitation to pass poinsettias between friends, some understand that it also means giving of your time and talents. For example, as a Macworld reader there’s every chance that you have technical knowledge to spare—some of which would be deeply appreciated by those family and friends you visit over the holidays. Might I suggest, in the spirit of sharing, that you lend a hand in the following five ways?
Give a faster Mac for not much money
There is no better way to speed up an older Mac than to add a solid state drive (SSD) as a boot volume. It matters not at all which modernish Mac model you’re talking about. If it currently uses a spinning mechanical drive, replacing that drive with an SSD will produce jaw-dropping results.
Note that Yosemite doesn’t support TRIM on third-party drives (see the linked article for details) so you’ll want to be careful about which SSD you choose.
Also, as an SSD is likely to have less capacity than the drive you’re replacing, you should consider storing items found within the Home folder on another volume. And if this Mac holds just one drive, don’t fret. In Giving the gift of speed: The SSD upgrade I discuss adding a second drive to certain Macs.
Power to your people
This next suggestion is more or less helpful depending on where the target of your holiday affection lives. Country dwellers with questionable power lines and those subject to weather-related outages will find it the most useful. And that suggestion is that you carefully wrap an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and shove it under the mistletoe. Both you and it are likely to get a kiss.
For those unfamiliar with these devices, a UPS is essentially a large battery that provides additional power outlets and a measure of surge protection. Should the power suddenly go out, a UPS can keep a computer running for awhile—long enough to save your work and then safely shut down the computer. APCis probably the most well known brand, but other companies make these things too.
When giving the gift of power you’ll want to be on hand when it’s put to use. And no, not just so you can receive warm thanks. Rather, you should be there to help ensure that the right devices are plugged into it. For example, only key components should pull power from the battery. There’s no reason to attach a laser printer to it, for example. Nor should you tax the battery with a nearby TV. Instead, be sure that the computer’s power cord is attached as well as any peripherals that the computer absolutely requires—a monitor if it’s attached to a Mac mini, for instance. You could also attach the broadband modem and router to it so that your family can continue to use the Internet until such time that the battery drains (helpful for checking a power company’s website to learn when power might be restored).