Blog Archives

Protect your Mac’s data

 

Customers often ask us how to back up and how often do they need to do it. The short answer to this is: How valuable is your data to you? If not at all, don’t backup. Beyond that, you want to back up as much as your data is valuable to you.

Backing up doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about this rule of thumb: Your data is not backed up unless it’s in at least two separate places. For most people, we recommend a local backup and a remote backup. This is a very high level of data protection.

Before we talk about which backup solutions are best and how to do it, let’s talk about where you store your data.  Ideally, all of your data fits on your Mac and you back up that data to two places: an external hard drive (your local backup) and to a cloud service (this is your remote backup).  Some customers want to buy a laptop with a small drive and then use external drives to store the rest of their data. While this can make their Mac purchase less expensive, it leads to a very complicated backup situation. Say you have all the data that fits on your Mac and the rest stored on an external hard drive: now you have to get a second external hard drive to backup both your Mac AND to back up the external drive with the rest of your data. How often will you be connecting both of those drives to your Mac and backing up? For most people, the answer is “never” or “not enough”. This is too complicated and bound to fail. (If you’re currently in this scenario, consider upgrading your internal drive.)

For local backups, we recommend using Time Machine; it’s already on your Mac and it just needs a place to put your backups onto. If you have a laptop, we recommend using a Time Capsule, which will make wireless backups using Time Machine. Once setup, it requires you to remember nothing and your data is continuously backed up. With an external hard drive, you have to remember to plug it in every once in a while to perform backups. Unfortunately, too many times, we see customers where the time they lose their data is the time they didn’t plug it in for a month. For desktops, a Time Capsule is not needed—you can just plug in an external drive, tell Time Machine to use that drive for backups, and forget it. If it’s always plugged in, it will always be backing up.

The final safety net is a remote backup. Why have two backups? The likelihood of both your Mac failing AND your backup drive failing at the same time are low. But that’s not the only scenario for data loss. Power surges, fire, water damage from flood, theft—you want your data in more than one physical location. We recommend Backblaze. Backblaze is a remote backup solution that backs up your computer whenever it’s connected to the internet. You don’t have to do anything except pay $5 per month, per computer. Backblaze is different from other backup services because they give you options for restoring your data. In a time of crisis, do you have time for all of your data (likely lots of gigabytes or maybe terabytes) to be restored wirelessly? It can take hours or days to restore an entire system wirelessly. What good is a backup if it’s difficult or inconvenient to use it when you need it the most? Backblaze can ship you a hard drive with your data on it, if needed. Once we had a customer with an RAID and a local attached hard drive. Unbeknownst to them, the hard drive got unplugged and then the RAID failed. They would have lost all of their data. But Backblaze had it all. You can never have too many backups.

Follow these simple guidelines and your data will be very well protected.

 

 

Posted in Homepage

USB-C Charging for iPhone and iPad

     

If you own an iPhone 8 iPhone X or an iPad then you’re going to love USB-C charging. With the newly released 30W USB-C adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable, your iPhone will never be dead again.

But first let me get this out of the way. If you have any of these in your home

throw them in the trash right now. Now for everyone using the 12W USB adapter, the 30W adapter is much faster. When charging an iPhone 8 after 30 minutes the 30W is at 52% while the 12W is at 36%. For the iPhone X, it’s 49% vs. 39%. The 30W adapters are $49 and the 1m USB-C to Lightning charging cable is $25.

Posted in Products We Love

Products We Love: eero Wireless

We love our Apple products because they “just work”. Nothing takes away that feeling faster than bad Wi-Fi. The eero Wi-Fi system helps keep our devices working great, even in more challenging home and apartment layouts.

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Posted in Homepage

MTS Best Practices: Upgrading to macOS High Sierra

Apple seems to really want me to upgrade to High Sierra. My Mac asks me every few days if I want to upgrade. I almost want to upgrade just to get it to stop bugging me. But should I?

There are several things to think about before you push that all-too-convenient Install Now button.

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Posted in Homepage

MTS Best Practices: Upgrading to macOS High Sierra

Apple seems to really want me to upgrade to High Sierra. My Mac asks me every few days if I want to upgrade. I almost want to upgrade just to get it to stop bugging me. But should I?

There are several things to think about before you push that all-too-convenient Install Now button.

Features

First, do I need any of the new features. Most people don’t know what the features are but if you know you need something, then it’s probably worth upgrading. In the case of the newest macOS, High Sierra, most of the changes are under the hood changes, like a new file format, i.e. things most users can’t see and don’t care about. The biggest changes that users can see are in Photos and Safari. Apple’s full shpiel is here: https://www.apple.com/macos/high-sierra/

Age of my Mac

If your Mac is more than 5 years old, don’t upgrade. New software + old hardware = sadness. New software including operating systems are designed for the newest hardware. When you put them on old hardware, they make the computer feel so slow. Your new best friend becomes the spinning color wheel. It may even force you to go and buy more RAM from, oh I don’t know, Mike’s Tech Shop. If your Mac is more than 5 years old, no more software upgrades. Just ride it out until you get a new Mac.

Make sure you have a backup

The most important thing before you do any upgrade is to make sure that you have a good backup before you begin the upgrade. High Sierra requires a new format for your hard drive. It’s invisible, you’ll never notice the difference, but in order to reformat your drive, when you upgrade to High Sierra, it writes to your hard drive a lot. So if you’re hard drive is a little shaky or has some problems you’re not noticing yet, upgrading will bring your hard drive down. We have had many people come in with Macs that no longer work because they tried to upgrade to High Sierra.

Bottom Line

If you have a relatively new Mac and a backup, I’d upgrade. If your Mac is more than 5 years old, don’t upgrade. If you’re somewhere in between, see if you need or want any of these features Apple brags about in High Sierra and decide from there. No matter what, always have a good backup of your data before doing anything.

Posted in MTS Best Practices

Products We Love: eero Wireless

We love our Apple products because they “just work”. Nothing takes away that feeling faster than bad Wi-Fi. The eero Wi-Fi system helps keep our devices working great, even in more challenging home and apartment layouts. Eero is a custom designed mesh system, with all the latest protocols, where your iPhone app is your network admin.

Finally a home wifi system worth recommending, enthusiastically. A beautifully packaged eero simply plugs into your current modem, and you begin configuring your network with a free app on your smartphone. There are a few configurations, the most common of which is the eero with two beacons. The beacon simply plugs into to your electrical outlet (à la the original Airport Express) and wirelessly connects to the main unit (the app guides you on optimum placement). The beacons even have a nightlight feature, which comes in handy when placed in bedrooms and hallways. And depending on the size and layout of your home you can reduce or increase the number of beacons until you’re covered (even in that pesky back room, or on the other side of that elevator), or get the Pro series, where you use multiple eero units instead of beacons for really intense coverage.

So, if you want Wi-Fi that just works, without the more complicated setups we would recommend and install in a business or enterprise environment, eero is for you. In a world where Apple stopped updating its Airport line, this swooped in and did it right, with a dash of Apple’s classic white design, and polished looks. In a world without updated Airports, we love eero.

Posted in Products We Love

Products we love: Apple AirPods

AirPods are the best new product from Apple in the past few years. They are the epitome of what Apple does best: seamless integration of hardware and software to create a great customer experience. They are effortless. The W1 chip allows near-instant pairing and usage on multiple devices. Their lightweight balance makes them practically forgotten once placed in your ears. AirPods just fit and just stay – even during periods of physical activity (yes, they pass the running test). They also get recharged every time you store them in the included case, making charging almost too easy.

AirPods are ranked as one of, if not, the best in Bluetooth headphones on the market. They maintain their connection far, far better than any competitor. The brilliant charging case only needs to be charged (with an included Lightning cable) about once a week for most users. Unlike your iPhone or iPad, AirPods are almost always charged when you want them to be.

Where they really excel is in voice quality in a wireless headphones. Whether you’re taking a call or in a Google Hangout, the audio quality is excellent: no drops, no low audio, and minimal background noise. For people who video or audio conference frequently, AirPods are a must-have item.

They are so in demand, they have been almost constantly out of stock at most Apple Stores since they came out in April 2017. It’s less than a week until Christmas and we have them in stock (as of the writing)! They make a great holiday gift for anyone who has an iPhone.

Posted in Uncategorized

Dos and Don’ts of Liquid Spills

It’s happened to the best of us. In just seconds, your Mac went from being your workhorse to being in dire need of some TLC, all because liquid and electronics are not friends. Hopefully, you’re not reading this from your iPhone because your Mac just had a liquid spill but if that’s the case: Don’t panic. Know that there are some precautions to take and some you should definitely not take.

Do:

    • Turn off your computer immediately. Hold down the power button to force-shutdown.
    • If connected to the charger, unplug it.
    • Wipe off any visible liquid.
    • Do nothing that will move the liquid around. It is liquid touching electronics that causes damage. If you slosh the liquid around it touches more components risking more damage.
    • Stick it in a bag of rice: Without moving around the liquid, place it in a bag of rice. Rice is a natural desiccant. This will help it dry faster but not necessarily reverse any damage that has already been done. Keep it in there for a minimum of 24 hours, though we recommend 48-72 hours.
    • Take it to Mike’s Tech Shop or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.

 

Don’t:

  • Try to turn it back on. As tempting as this can be, even just to see how bad the symptoms are, don’t try to turn it on.
  • Take a hair or blow-dryer to it—regardless of the temperature, this can cause more damage by spreading the liquid internally. MacBook keys are surprisingly easy to melt with a hot blow-dryer, not to mention the heat can cause worsen internal damage. Remember: heat + electronics = bad.
  • Disassemble the computer to clean it out or have an unauthorized repair done. Unless you are a certified technician and are observing ESD precautions, resist the temptation. Again, this can cause more damage. Certified Mac technicians can easily take notice if screws are in the wrong spot or if liquid spill indicator stickers are missing, replaced, or altered, which can affect the cost or outcome of a repair.

 

Some things to keep in mind:

  • If your computer is submerged in liquid, whether it fell into a pool, a bath, or was uncovered outside overnight in the rain (we’ve seen them all), there is not much you can do to get the computer to work again. Getting your data, on the other hand, might still be a possibility.
  • Even a small amount of liquid can cause major issues. In the years that we’ve been fixing Macs, we can say with certainty that there’s not always rhyme or reason as to what damage liquid can cause. We’ve seen it all: there have been times a Mac that drank a whole glass of water fared better than one with mere drops of liquid damage.
  • Liquid damage can cause unpredictable issues, even long after the spill occurred. Symptoms can get worse and rarely get better (though usually not for long). Symptoms can also be wildly intermittent, unfortunately.
  • Your data may not be gone! Read on.

 

Okay, what next?

  • Take it to Mike’s Tech Shop or an Apple Authorized Service Provider.
    • Apple does not handle any data-related troubleshooting and does not do data recovery. For that, they will send you to an Authorized Service Provider, like Mike’s Tech Shop. If you need your data out of your damaged Mac, we can likely get it, whether fixing your Mac or not.
    • Another advantage of taking your Mac to an Apple Authorized Service Provider is that they may have more repair options for you than an Apple retail store, which can be less costly. For example: if your Mac suffered liquid damage and only your keyboard isn’t working, Apple retail does not quote a cheaper repair, whereas an AASP may.
  • While liquid damage isn’t always preventable, being prepared can help both your sanity and your wallet.
    • A keyboard cover or a laptop sleeve can prevent damage by providing an extra barrier.
    • And of course, always remember to back up your data regularly. Fixing a computer with liquid damage (or sometimes, having to unexpectedly buy a new one) is already stressful, don’t let data loss worsen the blow. Data recovery can sometimes run hundreds or even thousands of dollars and is sometimes not possible.
    • Invest in AppleCare+ on your next Mac. AppleCare+ covers liquid damage for a service fee that’s significantly less than fixing it out-of-pocket.
    • The obvious: Keep liquids an arm’s length away

 

Getting your repair paid for

  • If you have AppleCare+: liquid damage is covered for a service fee that is significantly less than what the repair would cost without it. If you have AppleCare (the previous version of AppleCare+ that was sold before April 2017), liquid damage is not covered under warranty.
  • If you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, the damage may be covered under your policy. Check your policy!
  • If you bought your Mac using a credit card that covers damage or incidents, look into that! We have helped many customers who were able to get reimbursed by their credit card company for their repair.

 

Posted in Best Practices

MTS Best Practices: Backing up your iPhone

With the arrival of iOS 11 and the imminent release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, now is a great time to review backing up your iPhone. Our James Sorrenti reviews how to backup your iPhone data.

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Posted in Homepage

MTS Best Practices: Backing up your Watch

With the recent release of watchOS 4, now is a great time to review how to backup your Watch.

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Posted in Homepage