General discussion

Mac stability questions

Feb 13, 2007 9:18AM PST


I have had a very frustrating four years with my Dell laptop and I am dreading yet another reformat and update. It works great for a couple of months and then starts to slow down to the point that I can't adjust the volume if I have a browser window open. I have all current updates, antivirus, defragment regularly.

Is this just normal computer stuff or are Macs really different?
Do you use anti-virus software with your mac?
How often does your OS update and how large are the updates?

Does anyone use the external dial-up modem? Does it work okay?

I would be using it for browsing, word processing, web building and photos.



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Noting your PC issues.
Feb 13, 2007 11:34AM PST

I wonder if you use IE and no antispyware tools. Also it's not funny when I come across a machine that the owner never knew about disk cleanup. Last I'm finding too many machines that the heatsinks and fans are covered in lint. No one seems to tell owners how to maintain machines today.


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Responses inline
Feb 13, 2007 1:11PM PST

I have had a very frustrating four years with my Dell laptop Bummer and I am dreading yet another reformat and update Don't blame you. It works great for a couple of months and then starts to slow down sounds like fragmentation - how big is the volume where the system is installed and how much available space is there on the hard drive? to the point that I can't adjust the volume if I have a browser window open Bummer. I have all current updates, antivirus, defragment regularly That's good.

Is this just normal computer stuff or are Macs really different? Different - Mac OSX is Unix based.
Do you use anti-virus software with your mac? Nope. But I do keep my HP/Compaq laptop virus definitions updated.
How often does your OS update and how large are the updates? It varies, but ~ quarterly, sometimes less; sometimes more. Size varies. You don't want to be stuck with dial up and do these updates.

Does anyone use the external dial-up modem? Does it work okay? Borrowed one a few weeks ago just to see. Yes.

I would be using it for browsing, word processing, web building and photos. Not recommended - but if it is all you have, then it is what it is. Web browsing - especially with the graphics and video out now - will be exceptionally painfully slow on a dial-up connection.

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Feb 13, 2007 8:53PM PST

I would be using it for browsing, word processing, web building and photos. Not recommended - but if it is all you have, then it is what it is. Web browsing - especially with the graphics and video out now - will be exceptionally painfully slow on a dial-up connection.

I think boya84 meant to say that surfing the net with a dial-up modem is not to be recommended. Far too slow to give a worthwhile experience.
However, for Word Processing and Photo's the Mac is eminently suitable. Couple that with a BroadBand connection and the Web Building and browsing come back into the game.


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Mrmacfixit is correct.
Feb 13, 2007 10:02PM PST

Thank you for the clarification.

I was having too much fun formatting.

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Feb 14, 2007 3:01AM PST
We noticed that you were ENJOYING yourself


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Totally Mac
Feb 15, 2007 8:34PM PST

Windows definitely can, over time, prove to be a real dog and it doesn't take too long. I have both Windows and Mac and totally prefer the Mac for just about everything I do. As far as the slow down there can be many culprits. Disk Fragmentation (need to optimize), Spyware and Malware that will bog your computer and browsing to a crawl. Download some of the free Spyware utilities or get a decent program to check your computer. Mac's don't need the anti-virus programs which also effect your PC's speed to some degree. The commercials say Mac just works! And it does. It restores the fun back into using the computer rather than the computer using us. My decision now is whether to completely 100% leave Windows when I purchase my next laptop. Now I have a Mac iMac deskop and a Toshiba Windows XP laptop. One thing about Apple is that with parallels you can run Windows from inside Apple's Operating System and have the best of both worlds. Wait Windows has a best of? Actually there are some programs I have that just don't make a decent Mac version, such as Genealogy programs and I don't want to convert all my data to a new program. I like the Mac and I also am glad I purchased Apple-Care for my Apple as you will from time to time have questions and Apple-Care is great for helping with any problems.

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Blame the indian not the arrow
Feb 15, 2007 10:21PM PST

I know how mac users love to tell us all how wonderful they are, but the fact is that they don't do anything better than PC's any more and they are no more stable than PC's. This has been the case since windows XP. If your computer is slowing down after a month, look to see what you are putting on it either on purpose or by accident. I have friends who run Macs that also have to reformat every year or so. Computers are not maintenance free. All computers need some house cleaning. Norton System Works does a pretty good job of keeping your PC clutter free.

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But arrows and Indians are equal!
Feb 19, 2007 12:47AM PST

They don't do anything better than the PC's any more? They're no more stable?

I understand your logic, and I understand why it is flawed. If you narrow the criteria for the comparison enough to eliminate the differences, everything is equal. For example, a sailboat doesn't do anything better than a rowboat. they both float. they will both get you across a lake. Just don't bring up the rowing, or the cruising range, or the fact that while big sailboats are an option, big rowboats went out with the vikings (when they figured out a better way to hang sails).

A new PC, properly set up, works well and is stable, like a Mac. A year later, the Mac HD might need some work, if you constantly run it full and like to drum on your computer while you listen to iTunes. 12 months and it might need some TLC to keep it running like new.

A PC on the other hand, won't last a week on the internet unless you buy and run three or four applications to protect it from malware, and then you have to maintain and update the added software on a weekly basis to keep your PC safe. (see rowing above)

The original poster can't change the volume after a month, and you think your friend's yearly reformat is proof that PC's are equal?

All computers require maintenance. Therefore all computers are equal?

Keep rowing!


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Genealogy Software for a Mac
Feb 16, 2007 12:20PM PST

Just curious, have you looked at the geneaology program called "Reunion" for the Mac? I've been using Reunion on my Mac for some 12 years now and I really like it. I swap files with other genealogists (mostly window users) and I have very little problems importing their data (via ged files). Of course there are some features/information unique to their programs, but it's usually not that much of problem when I import the data. The really nice feature in Reunion is that it created my 26 MB genealogy website automatically - okay I tweaked a few webpages.

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Mac Crash and Burn
Feb 15, 2007 10:17PM PST

Mac's are pretty stable compared to PC's, once in while they lock up, nothing like a PC though.
I have used dial up in the past with the small external modem, they work fine, No problems at all.

Mike in SF

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You are welcome at Mac
Feb 16, 2007 12:58AM PST

I'm no technophile. Have to use MS @ work. Was inclined to favor Apple from long ago. Sure, they have frustrated me several times over the years.

They just are more elegant & I don't know how some can claim they're not more stable than MS. Apple made several critical decisons years ago. They aren't the mainstream. Their requirements for developers are much tighter. A pain for developers but that's what makes it plug & play & inherently more stable.

Vista cost 6 billion as they have to cobble together within a much more diverse world. Mainstream? Yes. Clunky? Absolutely.

Don't need anti-virus on Mac. OS updates are about every 2 years. It's a pain to have pay the usual $129 for each one but, hey it's an evolving world.

Just experience high speed & dial-up will never suffice.

Yes, pretty much all ideas are stolen wherever they originated. At least Apple is sort of cooperating in convergence. Mac is often just plain more elegant. Perfect? Of course not.

Slow down? Yes. Crap happens & crud accumulates. I probably have to use the two essentials - Tech Tool Pro 4 & Alsoft Diskwarrior more often than I think I should, but they do work well.

No easy answer as to where all slowdowns come from. Overloaded servers at sites you visit are a considerable inconvenience, but that happens.

Inclined to try Mac? With Intel chips, now is a better time than ever. Just to try to cope with compatibility I do go dual platform - with Office for Mac 2004. With old chips that runs slow. With Intel chips & Parallels - a piece of cake.

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mac is not perfect
Feb 16, 2007 3:15AM PST

Yes mac is fast if you are using usiversal software and its much much much easier to use than PC.
MAC is more stable (to some degree depends on if you are using Universal or not). But hey if it gets stuck all you have to do is end application and unlike MS it does work!! and dont have to wait for hours.
Me at the moment just waiting for Universal software to come out so Im still using MS for most of my work and MS could be fast and reliable just depends on what you install. I personally don't trust IE at all and using IE means you need spyware, popup blocker which slows down your computer thus easier to be stuck! Also using big names anti-virus means your computer gona run slow so just use something like anti-vira which is FREE!! and it doesnt make your computer slow down so it can be as fast as MACs. (firefox is better than IE, just don't need to the spyware and popup blocker etc.)
Last point I'm just got my mac last summer and I dont really know how to uninstall properly which lead to, how to delete the files left behind. So Im guessing my mac is slower now and startig to clog up ^_^
So mac is not perfect, but beta than MS ^_^

(p.s MS could look pretty with litestep and re-decorate your MS ^_^ and mac cant do that Silly)

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Comments from a Long time Mac User
Feb 16, 2007 9:19AM PST

I am writing this message on my G4 13" Mac Powerbook, my most recent Mac which I purchased in September of 2004.
It is plenty fast enough for most of my personal and business work, and it runs the most recent Mac OS 10.4 as well as system 9 which was the one I used on older Macs many years ago as well as all the original applications I ran 10 years ago. I suspect many PC users can not do that. I consider myself a low to moderate volume user who just uses the Mac for surfing, e-mail, Excel, Word, taxes, and the occasional Cad drawing or photoshop job etc.
I have DSL and wirelessly connected via a Mac Airport Extreme. The Airport has a USB port, modem port, Wide network port(connected to the DSL modem) and a Local network port. I have a Brother Laser printer running off the USB that all users can wirelessly print to. I also made the wireless net accessable from both my Daughters ( Powerbook and iMac needless to say, since I am a driving influence).
I have never had my PowerBook in for any repair and it is still going strong.
I have never had to reinstall, initialize or anything that involves major software problems OS 10 is very stable. There are a few performance tricks that Apple's Disk utilities (provided with the OS) is used to do housekeeping. I have de-fragmented and analyzed the drive 2 or 3 times (likely not really necessary) with a great moderate priced utility from Prosoft.
I have never had a virus, or other nefarious spyware that I know of, but I do have Norton Anti-Virus cause you can never be too sure.
The Mac seems to be a very easy to use machine(a Mac user would say that) and it seems to have been designed with ituitive functions and locatons for most things and should be relatively painless to learn to use quickly.
But having said that, there are many features that are uniquely Mac and to become familiar with these things I would suggest you find a night class (high school) or Mac knowledgeable helper or a Mac user group in your area to get started or answer questions. There are a lot of user groups around.
I cannot speak for PC's I am sure that they are also quite reliable, and likely a little faster in some things slower in others and good machines.
All I can say is the Mac is something that grows on you and becomes a very pleasant machine to use and the fact that I, for the present, do not have to worry about viruses destroying my work is a large plus.
If you try one, good luck and hope you enjoy it as much as I do mine.

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Mac's are very stable ... especially since OSX
Feb 16, 2007 12:52PM PST

I've been a Mac user since the beginning - 1984. Since 1984 I've also used the old MS-DOS machines, Alpha Micros, Digitial VAX and Windows machines . . . this just to give you an idea that I used a few different operating systems. I still have to use a Windows machine at my place of employment. Like you, I have a very frustrating time with my work PC, which is on a network with some 8,000 other PC's. Even with a full time IT staff in charge of the server, we get nailed on a weekly basis with all kinds of junk. It's gotten so bad, when our PC's get too bad, they simply install a new hard drive and destroy the infected one, I guess hard drives are pretty cheap now days. With that said, my Mac has never had anything closely related to the problems I have with my work PC.

Yes, I have an Anti-Virus program on my Mac. And yes, I do have a program that scans for Spyware and Adware. The last virus I, or rather my virus program detected was in 1989, which was a MS Word Macro. In the past two years, MacScan has never detected any Spyware, AdWare or MalWare on my machine, which runs 24/7/365 connected to Comcast broadband.

Apple does send out OS, application, security and firmware updates. Via the Mac menu bar, you can automatically check for updates (which I do every 7 to 10 days) and if there is an update, it's downloaded and installed automatically. At most it'll require you to Restart your Mac.

All of the consumer Mac's come with a modem ... although that may change in the future since not many people use them anymore. With the pro-series of Mac's, you will need to purchase a modem.

I currently do everything you want to do, and even more on my seven year old Mac. And yes I running the latest operating system and applications. If you really want to get the full potential of the Mac (or any PC for that matter), you should get a broadband connection to the internet. I've heard good and bad things for both Cable and DSL, so pick which ever is the easiest for you.

I hope this helps.

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A small point but
Feb 16, 2007 10:39PM PST


"All of the consumer Mac's come with a modem ... " is no longer true. None of the current Mac's are fitted with a modem.


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Macs Rock
Feb 23, 2007 8:12AM PST

Given: PC's can be reliable; many more games than for Macs; hardware upgrades tend to be cheaper due to sheer manufacturing numbers...

IMHO: I've had about the same expericence as treerod: using Windoz and Outhouse and Exploder at work and then coming home to a much easier-to-use Mac. It is not a requirement to buy the lastest OS every couple years. There are many, many Mac users who are still using earlier versions of OS X and even OS 9. And they're doing so trouble-free. As for updates, in the past Apple would go for many months with no updates (security or OS enhancements). Admittedly, the frequency has increased in the last year or two. But, as stated, the updates are generally easy to do and trouble-free. I'm now using a G4 Mac made in 2001 and it's till going strong. Before that, we ran a beige G3 for years. Before that, a Performa for years. Most Macsters will testify that Macs are reliable and, for the most part, easily upgradeable. They are not perfect; they're machines. I have a few friends who, like you, have problems with their PC's and I can only sympathize. One friend pays someone every year or so to 'clean up' or 'defrag' or whatever. I've never taken a Mac to a repair shop. Not to say I never will; they're machines. There are several 'forums' to run any problems by like macfixit, Apple/discussions, cnet, etc. Meaning, one can by a used Mac 'cheap' and not have to buy customer support. Overall: Macs are easy to use; easy to upgrade; thousands of software titles exist; reliable; don't need antivirus, malware, adware software. Caveat: use extreme caution clicking inside unknown emails. HTH!

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Thank you!
Feb 22, 2007 8:50AM PST

Thanks, everyone for your comments.

I know high speed internet would be best, but it's not available in our area, and satellite is iffy as to whether it will work and I don't want to get locked into a contract.

I do think I am going to try a Mac. I have an old 233 imac running 8.5 and I just like the way it (still) works.

As for trying to get my current computer to work better, I run current versions of AVG anti-virus and anti-spyware and don't download a lot of things of the internet. I'm not sure my problems are all related to IBM compatibility, but that this particular Dell Infurion (ha ha), has components that don't work that well together. (Another reason I am hoping the mac will serve me better)

Thanks for all the help!

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