Your aging Mac

I have had a flurry of questions and issues with aging Macs lately.  I thought I’d quickly go over what to expect of your Mac as it ages.

Macs are generally built with leading-edge technology at the time they are made.  Apple does a good job keeping up on this.  However, software in general and operating systems in particular demand more of hardware as time goes along.  So, it is inevitable that modern software will out-strip your aging Mac’s ability to run it effectively.  This is not planned obsolescence, this is just technology progress (in software) on an aging Mac that essentially cannot be changed (hardware).

In general you can expect 8-10 years out of your Mac.  In the last years it will become slower and slower (if you keep it updated, which you should if for no other reason than to keep the security current on it).

Apple generally supports hardware for about 7 years.  Also, Apple supports the current operating system (Sierra, 10.12) and the two previous (El Capitan 10.11 and Yosemite 10.10).  If you are running an older system than those you are asking for trouble because Apple is no longer issuing security updates to keep you protected from Internet bad guys.  Check your version by going to Apple menu > About this Mac.

If your Mac is 2008 to 2010 model you have probably noticed a dramatic slow down with it.  Also, you may have tried to upgrade it to Sierra (10.12) and Apple will not let you.  Now come the tough decisions: do I bite the bullet and buy a new Mac or try to get a couple of more years out of my current one?

You can sometimes get a couple of more years out of a Mac by installing a faster hard drive in it, specifically a Solid State Drive (SSD) to replace the old, slow spinning hard drive.  This generally runs in the $200-400 range.

Or, do you put that money toward a new Mac (starting around $1000 and up from there)?  The decision is a tough one and one only you & your wallet can answer, but here are a few things to consider:

  • Your old Mac will not have any resale value, whether it is upgraded with an SSD or not.
  • You will eventually (within a couple of years) have to replace your Mac.
  • An SSD will make you Mac faster, but not close to the speed of a new one.
  • Now is a great time to get a 2013-2015 MacBook Pro while you still can.  See my blog about the new MacBook Pros here.

I can’t really tell you which way to go, here, sorry.  It is really up to you.  I can tell you that it is much like owning an old car - do you put money into it or put that same money into saving for a newer one.  If you have the money now you are probably better off getting a new Mac.