MacFixIt Answers is a feature in which we answer e-mailed questions from our readers. This week we have questions on remote access to a Windows PC using an iPad, whether to migrate data or start fresh on a new hard drive, addressing a MacBook that will not start up, whether AutoCAD will work in Parallels, and maintenance program recommendations. We continually answer e-mail questions, and though we present a few answers here, we certainly welcome alternative approaches and views from readers and encourage you to post your suggestions in the comments.
Question: Remote desktop with an iPad
MacFixIt reader "Jeff" asks:
I just bought an iPad about a month ago for my wife. She doesn't use it much so i have been trying to use it more for my business and found out my company franchise program (Internet based) only supports IE. I run Windows XP on my desktop in the office and I am wondering if a Parallels program would help so I could access the program on my iPad with the Parallel app. If so which software should I purchase?
The Parallels mobile app will allow you to view your Windows machine from an iOS device; however, this is usually so you can run a Windows program from the Parallels installation. Parallels would not interface directly with your work PC.
Instead, you would use the Mac's Parallels installation directly to run IE and connect to your program, without needing your work PC. Do you have an Intel-based Mac somewhere that you can use to run Parallels? If so, then you can use the iPad to connect to it and view IE running on it, and thereby load your program.
As an alternative I believe there are a few remote desktop applications for the iPad that will allow you to share your work PC's screen. One of these is called "Jaadu," and another is called "iTap," but there may be more options out there.
Question: Migrate data or install fresh on new hard drive?
MacFixIt reader "Ian" asks:
I have a late 2008 unibody Mac book 2.4GHz with 4GB DDR3 memory. Over time this computer has slowed down I was thinking of replacing the hard drive with a larger newer drive and using the original drive in a caddy as a back up drive. Is it better to do a clean install on the new drive and transfer all the data over using Apples migration tool?
If you're just replacing the drive to expand your system's capacity then migrating your data should be fine. If you intend to do more of a system cleanup by clearing out unused programs and configurations and basically starting over, then a clean install and manual transfer of your data will be the route to take (albeit a more cumbersome one).
Question: MacBook not starting up
MacFixIt reader "vrosman" asks:
MacBook Pro will not power up. There is power to it and its power supply is working. Nothing happens when power button is depressed. Suggestions?
Try resetting the system's SMC (system management controller). The specifics on how to do this will depend on your exact model, but you can find those instructions in this article.
Hopefully that is all that needs to be done. If it does not help then your next best bet is to take the system in to Apple to have it looked at.
Question: AutoCAD with Parallels Desktop
MacFixIt reader "Perry" asks:
I am a new mac user, who just recently purchased a new 15" macbook pro with 8 gb ram and 500 gb hd. I'm still adapting to the snow leopard environment. I currently have all my necessary applications on my mac with the exception of my required AutoCAD 2000i. Currently I continue to keep my old Dell PC laptop with XP pro simply as a means of using AutoCAD. I just purchased a copy of Parallels 6 in an attempt to be able to use my AutoCAD on the Mac. I am not extremely computer literate when it comes to how this all works but I want to give it a try. Will my AutoCAD run with the clik of an icon as it does in Windows? Or do I have to go through a bunch of gymnastics to make it work? Will Parallels just run in the background only effecting the AutoCAD ap (which is the only windows program I intend to use)?
Parallels will run in the background and only show the current application that is running. If you are doing any fancy 3D builds with AutoCAD, you might not have the best performance with Parallels, but it should run just fine for most other tasks. The program should behave exactly as it does in your current Windows installation, launching with a simple click or selection from the Start menu (that will be available from the Mac's system menu with Parallels).
You have 8GB RAM which is plenty for use with parallels, but be sure to allocate a good 4GB for the virtual machine when you get it set up. This will allow the virtual machine to use up to 4GB, but it will only use as much as it needs. Additionally, be sure to enable the advanced graphics options in Parallels so you have the best graphics performance as possible (the Parallels manual should cover all these options).
Question: MacKeeper and other maintenance programs
MacFixIt reader "Lareina" asks:
I am a school teacher and I use a macbook pro with osx 10.5.8 and I also have an ipad running the newest update. I am soon to get the new ipad2 and my husband will be taking my ipad. I noticed a program today called MacKeeper. I have been looking for something for upkeep on my mac to keep it running well and to take care of duplicate files/pictures. I wasn't sure if the mackeeper was a spyware ad just to take over my computer or not so I started looking for stuff about it. I am trying to find a program like this, but don't know if it is the best and/or least expensive one to get. Do you know of any free/share ware programs like this, or even a teacher discounted one?
MacKeeper is a well-known maintenance program for OS X, and it does a good job at keeping the Mac OS running smoothly by removing caches and other temporary files as needed. It is one of several similar options that is available. My recommendation in terms of running maintenance routines in OS X is to do them only periodically, and only when you feel the system is running slower than normal for an unknown reason. I've written up, in which I've included a list of maintenance program recommendations (some are free, and others charge for a license).