A survival guide for the five most common Mac maladies

#1  Hard drives can fail at any age

Need a better reason to back up your important files and family photos today? According to a Google study, hard drives fail at a rate of 3% per year. That 3 year-old laptop you’ve got? Tragedy has struck about 1 in 10 of its brethren already.

What to do? Back up, back up, back up! You know you’ve been planning to. Don’t join the sorry folks who lost data despite the same “future plan.” Order an external hard drive and configure Time Machine today. Try to find one with at least a 2-year warranty. Newegg and Amazon have a wide selection and good prices.

For best protection, keep another backup off site, such as a friend or family’s home.


#2  Your passwords probably aren’t strong enough

Having a Mac may offer protection from pesky PC viruses, but that doesn’t make for smooth sailing on the interwebs.

You know the trade-off of a complicated password: it’s harder to remember. And the guidelines about having a unique complex password for each site are not a practical reality.

A password manager will integrate with your web browser, fill, save and even generate complex passwords that you never have to remember. It’ll even sync them with your phone so you can access them from another computer.

See our tips on creating a password plan.


#3 Leaving the battery drained can kill it

This is so common, there should be a warning on each one sold. Let your battery die—and stay that way—and you may end up needing your power cord all the time.

So plug in those laptops and phones when you can, and don’t run them completely down if you’re far from a charger. It is a good idea to use the battery fully on a monthly basis, though. Normally though, you shouldn’t run it down all the way before you charge it.

Learn more here.


#4 When running, laptops & hard drives are as fragile as eggs

Would you move a record player while it’s playing a record?

On standard laptops or external hard drives, the space between your data and what’s reading it is less than the width of a human hair.

A small bump can cause them to crash, damaging the media surface. So when they’re on, don’t let them drop onto a table even an inch. Wait till they’re asleep or turned off, when they’re much more shock resistant, which is to say “somewhat.”


#5 Laptops and liquids don’t mix

Let alone a cup of coffee. The single fastest way to “total” a laptop (and we mean about a second) is to spill liquid in it. It happens all the time and the cost of repair is $400 or higher, often more than the computer is worth.

Actually, it doesn’t take much — spritzing cleaner on your keyboard or using a rag that’s too damp can take out a few keys for good

Buy a high-quality keyboard protector, such as the ClearGuard by Moshi, and find something else to worry about (just kidding — be happy)!