Things to do during isolation

Things to do during isolation

The world is losing it’s marbles with the corona virus going around so a lot of us find ourselves isolated at home. While this is certainly a good time to clean your home, I want to talk a bit about things you can do that you’ve probably been putting off (Mac related).

  1. Test your backups
    You use Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner, ChronoSync and/or other ways to back up your data. This is great but do you know if those backups are working? The destination drive may have bad sectors, the I/O interface may have issues causing data corruption during transfer, your backup software may be messing up without telling you… Many things can go wrong or already be wrong without you knowing.
    Testing your backup is a time consuming task and a lot of people don’t have the time or take the time to do it. Now is the time.
    The concept is simple; restore a backup to one of your machines and see if everything is in order. Use an external hard drive if you can. Boot up from a clone, restore a backup, go over your settings for cloud backup services such as BackBlaze to see if all the essentials are being backed up, etc.
  2. Clean up your digital storage
    Connect every drive you have and do a search for duplicate files, for starters. Gemini is a great app to use for this.
    Last time I checked, my Photos library alone was good for 200GB in duplicate files! (yes it had been a while). My music and download folders had many GB of duplicate files as well. And this was just on my system. The servers and external drives had tons of duplicate files as well. In total I think I cleared up 4+ TB of duplicate files! I am a digital hoarder so I expected some duplicate files but not this many.With the duplicates taken care of, it’s time to focus on old and unused stuff. Uninstall unused applications, delete or archive files you never touch but can’t or don’t want to get rid of etc. Applications such as CleanMyMac are literally made for this kind of cleanup! Just at the time of writing I’ve identified 60+ GB worth of files I haven’t even touched in over a year. 28 GB was stuff I could easily delete, everything else was moved to long term storage on my server. I don’t need this stuff taking up space on my system.Of course when all the digital cleanup is done, don’t forget to update your backups! Make new clones and run backup tasks so that all those files you just got rid of get deleted from your backups as well.
  3. Beef up security
    Maybe you haven’t installed OS updates in a while because you couldn’t afford the down time. Well, now is the time to do those updates. When is the last time you scanned your entire system for malware? Now is the time to do it. Intego’s VirusBarrier Scanner is free in the app store and still the industry’s best when it comes to detection of Mac malware. The before mentioned CleanMyMac also has a malware scanner built in but I have not put that one to the test yet. If you prefer a quick scan of the most common places malware could be hiding on your system, check out MalwareBytes. Even with MalwareBytes installed, I still recommend using a full featured scanner to perform whole system scans once in a while.Do you use a firewall? Something like Little Snitch for example. Open the rule set and see if any rules can be deleted if they’re obsolete, see if new rules should be added. It takes 10 minutes at most but it’s important it gets done. Regardless of which browser you use, make sure it’s up to date as vulnerabilities in browsers are found all the time and updates are released frequently.How is your password storage looking? If you use 1Password or another password manager, see if there are duplicate passwords (bad idea), see if any passwords have been flagged as part of a security breach and see if passwords that have been in use for a long time could use an update (longer and stronger replacement).
  4. Fix some stuff up
    You may have old Macs that need to be recapped, this is a good time to do it. Macs that need parts installed, upgrades done or OS reinstalled, this is a good time to do it. While you’re at it, take some time to organize tools and parts, label stuff and create an inventory in a spreadsheet.
  5. Clean
    Clean the outside of your Macs and displays, blow some air through your keyboard, open your Macs up and get the dust out. Basic maintenance to keep systems running cool and stay healthy longer. Maybe it’s time to get some fresh thermal paste in some of your Macs to make it run even cooler. We’re entering spring soon of course so ambient temperatures will be going up.
  6. Test your battery backups
    Now is the time to pull the plug on those battery backups and see if they are doing what they should be doing. Scary, I know but it has to be done.

Of course this is also a good time to spend time with family, do repairs around the house, learn something new or start something new. When time is available, the sky is the limit. You can do anything! Start a blog, start a youtube channel, start a course online, read a book, start working out… the list is endless 🙂 If you’ve found yourself laid off, this is a great time to pick up a new skill and with the whole internet at your fingertips, you can learn anything you want.

If you have any good suggestions, let me see them in the comments!

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