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Macs and Anti-Virus

Mac users have largely been immune from virus issues since their inception in 1984.  Other than some Word macro viruses and a few specific malware strapped to legitimate installers Macs have really not had to deal with security issues -- until now.  

Apple continues to do a great job of updating Macs either in the background or through security updates to protect them from most malware but no it seems to be more prevalent and we must be more vigilant.  Disabling Flash and Java prevents mitigates much of this risk but malware authors are becoming increasingly interested in the Mac and ransomware is now a real threat. 

There are a number of anti-virus products for the Mac as many players got in early with free offerings until this inevitable day arrived.  At this point the two that we have had good luck with are Webroot and Bitdefender but others are available and some are even in the Mac App Store although we feel the more complete packages are not App Store compatible.

Anti-Virus/Malware Recommendations

Should you upgrade to iOS 11?

The annual iOS upgrade for iPhones and iPads has been release and by now every device that supports the latest upgrade has promted their owners to upgrade.  

For the most part this is a stable and useful update despite some annoying bugs early on.  iOS 11.2 fixed most of the issues and seems worthy of our endorsement.

As with many iOS updates some users have experienced some mail setting changes so feel free to call us if anything isn't working after your upgrade.  

Should you upgrade to MacOS High Sierra

Fall 2017 is much like most every fall in that Apple has released another version of MacOS.  Each year a few of the oldest systems become obsolete and are not supported in the latest version but if your Mac is supported you might be tempted to upgrade when prompted by the App Store to do so.  

With each passing year it seems that the first release of the annual MacOS upgrade is a litte more buggy and this year seems to be the worst.  MacOS 10.13 has suffered from a surprising number of bugs considering that Apple offers public beta testing these days.  Most of these bugs are fairly minor but a few security related issue have prevented OWT from encouraging users to upgrade just yet. 

However, with the release of 10.13.2 we can finally recommend that those with 8GB of RAM or more go ahead and upgrade. Those with 4GB that were already running 10.12 (Sierra) it won't be much worse.  Really with 10.12 and newer we feel you need at least 8GB or RAM.  

Don't expect a lot of new features with High Sierra but it is a solid upgrade and seems stable and most of the annoying issues were resolved in 10.13.2.  

In 10.13 Apple is now offering a new file system: APFS.  This file system seems fully backed for SSD drves but for fusion and traditional hard drives it is not yet ready for widespread use.  Disk Utility WILL let you format your drive with APFS but if you don't have an SSD we really don't recomment it at all.  During the installation of 10.13 if you have an SSD the installer will prompt you to convert your drive to APFS and we suggest that you do as the performance improvement is noticeable.  Fusion and traditional hard drive users will need to wait for future support from Apple. 

Be sure to intall ALL updates labelled as "Security" anytime you see them.  A nasty root password bug really exposed Apple's lack of software testing and the fix is very critical.  

As always, if you need help ugrading or would like to see about putting more memory in your Mac OWT is here to help. 

Should you update to macOS Sierra?

Apple's latest update for the Macintosh operating system is out and ready to be installed on most any Mac built since late 2009.  Dubbed macOS Sierra or macOS version 10.12 this is maybe more subtle than most other years with the main new feature being the addition of Siri to the Mac.   

While Sierra doesn't bring that much new to the party we still suggest upgrading as it usually isn't long before older versions of the macOS become problematic with some software and slower to get security fixes.  While we found Sierra to slow down older machines just a bit we don't feel this should deter you from the upgrade.  

Sierra does want more RAM and we really feel it is best to have 8GB of RAM or more but we have seen great sucess on 4 GB machines so long as you don't intend to run too many things simultanesiously.  

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Should you update to iOS 10?

Apple's annual update for the iPhone and iPad is now avilailble and iOS 10 brings some very nice features even to older devices. You will now need an iPhone 5 or better and an iPad Air or newer to support the update.

Overall we are pleased enough with the update but for most older devices it is a bit slower. This is largely due to added features some of which you can turn off or cripple to improve speed but it isn't too bad.  Bascially the older your device the more likely it is to be slower.  

We have seen some update headaches and a few machines have needed to be restored via iTunes but many of these issues have been worked out with the iOS 10.1 update.  

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Should You Update to Windows 10?

Many of our customers ask us if we think they should upgrade to the latest version of various operating systems. Since so many have been released recently we thought we would share our thoughts with you.Windows 10First of all we like Windows 10. Windows 10 solves most of the problems we had with Windows 8 and doesn't post huge transition issues for Windows 7 users. Whether you should upgrade yet depends on a few variables:

  • If you are intolerant of obvious cosmetic and some less obvious but still troubling bugs you should wait. While mostly reliable there are some problems that have not all been sorted out yet. Windows 10 is being updated frequently and improving every week.
  • While we have found good application support if you have a mission critical application we suggest you check with the vendor to ensure Windows 10 compatibility. Most applications are but a few older applications may have some significant issues.
  • Check with the vendor of your computer. We have seen a few (most notably Sony VAIO) computers that do not have critical drivers supporting Windows 10 available yet. Laptops may be the most prone to these issues. These will come in time.
  • If you use an older printer or really any older device other than an external hard drive you might want to check with the vendor to ensure drivers are available for Windows 10.
  • If you use Windows 8 now you should have little trouble adapting to the new OS but it is a bit of a hybrid between Windows 7 and 8 in the way it works. This will be more daunting to Windows 7 users than Windows 8 users.

Overall we are pretty happy with Windows 10 and generally recommend it to all those using Windows 8 and most Windows 7 users. Windows 10 is a free upgrade for all licensed Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems. We wish Microsoft would extend this program to Windows Vista.

Remember that after you update you may need to upgrade your anti-virus solution! This type of software will certainly require and update. We do not feel you should rely on the built-in anti-virus/mailware capabilities of Windows 10 and suggest either Norton Internet Security or Secure Anywhere - both commercial solutions that work well under Windows 10.

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Should You Update to iOS 9?

Apple's annual update for the iPhone and iPad is now avilailble and the Apple Watch update should be out soon. IOS 9 brings some very nice features even to older devices. If your device was able to run IOS 8 then it can run IOS 9.

Overall we are pretty happy with IOS 9 on the iPad and recommend all users upgrade. So far we haven't seen any major issues with the iPhone update but it is a bit slower than we would like on older hardware. The update doesn't bring that many new features to the 4S, 5 or 5c and so we suggest you wait a bit as Apple typically optimizes their IOS releases over the first 2 months or so after a new release. Also one of our 4S models took over 4 hours to update! Other devices were under 30 minutes so don't give up on an install because you think it has hung. 

iPhone 4S users might notice their device is slower intitally but after some time things seem to pick up and the latest beta is a bit faster and finally as fast as with iOS 8.4.iPad Air and especially iPad Air 2 users and the newer iPad mini devices will enjoy the new features.

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Should You Update to Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan)?

Released on September 30, 2015. We are running El Capitan on a few machines and overall are pretty happy with it. As with all Mac OS updates your computer will run slowly after the update but after a day our results were good.

Faster launch times and some improved performance but a few changes took some adaptation.

Apple Mail - rules seem to run before SmartMailbox assignments forcing a rework of many SmartMailboxes

Notes - this is dramatically improved! If you have an iOS device upgraded to IOS 9 and use Notes you will need to upgrade for compatibility.

Software compatibility seems pretty good. Even with the beta we had very few problems.Older Adobe software might be problematic and anything that tinkers with the system at all will likely need a significant update.

If your Mac was able to run Mac OS 10.10 "Yosemite" then it can also run 10.1.Overall we recommend this update.

With all updates and upgrades OWT is here to help.  If you are uncomfortable with the upgrade or just want to use our fat Internet connection bring your system to OWT and we can do the update for you economically. 

Wireless access in your home or office

Light BulbA great many of our customers have a wireless router in their home or office location that distributes their Internet connection to the various devices they own such as phones, tablets, computers and game consoles.  This is a great technology and immensely convenient but users should recognize this is also the most likely part of their connectivity to go wrong.  Below are some quick tips to keep in mind when running a wireless access point:

  • A great many devices use similar frequencies.  Bluetooth and Wi-Fi use similar frequencies and many devices in the home or office also use Wi-Fi and it is possible for these devices to interfere with one other.  If you are having problems, try to keep these devices a few feet apart if possible.  

  • Wi-Fi is very much a line-of-sight technology but it will penetrate most walls to some extent.  Accross an open room you should have a strong signal but devices that are far from the Wi-Fi router or have a lot of metal or plumbing between them may have issues.  If it is only distance then consider a Wi-Fi extender product.  We can help with that. If there are appliances between the devices then moving the router is your best bet.  Don't hide the router underneath a desk or behind a cabinet.  Try to have the router fairly high in the room and without any obstructions and certainly away from other electronics.  

  • If there is a microwave operating nearby that will generally always kill a local Wi-Fi transmission. 

  • Generally you should be able to have a computer, cell phone, tablet and even Bluetooth headset all in close proximity to one another without interference but if you are troubleshooting minimize these issues nonetheless.  

  • If the Wi-Fi router is on a separate floor and the access point is not obstructed in anyway and connectivity is still poor consider a Wi-Fi extender placed somewhere between the two devices.  

  • Motors, refrigerators and some other appliances can interfere with Wi-Fi connectivity sometimes.  Keep this in mind when deciding where to place your routers. 

  • Wired connections are always preferred to wireless when possible.  If you digital video device, game console, computer or other device can be connected to your router with an Ethernet cable that is always preferable to a wireless connection.  If you need affordable Ethernet cables at any length we can help with that. 

Ethernet and Wireless Routers and Extenders