How to Speed Up Your Mac on a Budget

If you’ve been using your MacOS notebook or desktop for some time you may have noticed that things are slowing down: screen refresh, on-disk operations, programs open & close.  This is eventually happens to all computers as we clutter the system with additional files and programs.

Most people don’t look forward to upgrading their Mac and all the cast and hassles that come with it.  Instead, you may be able to improve your Mac’s performance by taking a few, inexpensive steps proven to speed things back up.  Here’s how:

  1. Clean up your hard drive

Cleaning your hard drive is by far the best and easiest way to speed up your Macbook. Go through your hard drive and clean out everything that’s slowing it down.

What exactly is slowing it down? Caches, logs, apps, widgets, language packs, plugins, hidden trash, and large files. Get rid of these things to increase the speed of your Mac. It’s true that you can do this all manually, but finding all of these items and removing them takes time. Plus, you have to know where to look.

One of the top rated tools on the market is Dr. Cleaner.  Dr. Cleaner is an all-in-one free app that offers Memory Optimization, Disk Cleaning and System Monitoring to keep your Mac optimized for the best performance.

Here’s a list of the impressive features Dr. Cleaner offers.

Memory optimizer

  • Identify Apps that use a significant amount of memory as candidates for removal.
  • One-click memory optimization—instantly reclaim memory from closed apps and free up resources.

Disk mapping/file management

    • Views your entire disk by file or folder size so you can determine which files or folders use the most space.
    • Dr. Cleaner scans all your disks and creates a clickable map of the files on your disk, color-coded by file type showing detailed information on each file.

Managing large files

    • One-click scan for big files including your cloud-based drives (customizable size from 10 MB and above)
    • Apply multiple filters of size, date, name and type
    • Dr. Cleaner create “safe house” for your large files thereby preventing them from being unintentionally deleted.

Duplicate finder

    • Quick scan for duplicate files–Dr. Cleaner has the fast and accurate scanning technique that covers your entire folder system.
    • Smart selection–duplicates are selected not only by file names but also by their contents. Files are shown in detailed previews. Dr. Cleaner can also help you “decide” which copy to delete by presenting “Auto Select” button.
    • Easy and safe decision — duplicates can be sorted by file type and listed in their full route for you to track. You can decide which way to clean these files – either by putting them in to Trash or deleting them permanently.

A better way to manage your apps

    • Auto-clean leftover files of deleted apps
    • Easily manage all apps installed on your Mac
    • Clearly and easily view all app information installed on your Mac by name, size, and last opened date

System requirements:  OS X 10.10 or later, 64-bit processor, 29 Mb of hard disk space.

      1. Manage your startup items

Obviously, a clean startup helps speed up a Macbook that’s running slowly. No wasted time waiting for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to load. Instant access! Well, when your Mac boots up, it runs a lot of unnecessary apps that slow your Mac down.

Take control of your Mac again! Go to your System Preferences > Users & Groups and then click on your username. Now click on Login Items. Select a program you don’t immediately need when your Mac starts up, and then click the “” button below.

Taking care of these startup programs is an easy way to help add speed to your Mac.


      1. Turn off visual effects

Most Macs are now capable of running Mac OS X Mavericks without any trouble. But some people prefer to keep the dock static to prevent slowdown. Click System Preferences > Dock and uncheck the following check boxes:

      • Magnification
      • Animate opening applications
      • Automatically hide and show the dock
      • Turn off accessibility

Now click on Minimize windows using and change Genie Effect to Scale Effect.


      1. Update your software

Make sure you perform a software update for Mac OS X and all the apps installed in Mac. Click on the Apple icon in the menu bar and choose Software Update (or open Software Update in the App Store).

If you have apps purchased outside of the App Store, they will need to be updated separately. You’ll usually find Check for Software Update from the program name in the menu bar.

You should also make sure that Mac OS X keeps itself up to date. Click on System Preferences > App Store and ensure that Automatically Check For Updates is ticked. You can also tick Install App Updates,which will automatically ensure that apps are updated.


Ransomware is a growing risk on Macs

Ransomware in particular and malware in general have long been seen by consumers, device makers and members of the cyber security community as threats that predominantly target Microsoft Windows-based PCs. This view is understandable.

Through the first quarter of 2016, Apple had only 7.4 percent global market share in PCs, according to IDC. While this number represents years of growth in Mac sales, it is still small compared to the number of Windows machines shipped by all other manufacturers. Even after setting aside the specific platform differences between Windows and macOS, there are simply far more PCs than Macs out there, making the former into more appealing targets of cyber attacks.

However, this does not mean that Macs are immune to malware. On the contrary, the recent rise in Mac market share as well as the growing synergy between macOS and iOS (the operating system of iPhones and iPads) has inspired a new wave of Mac-centric attacks. Let’s look at how ransomware has been a particularly active frontier for the energies of today’s cybercriminals.

Bad Transmission: How a torrent client revealed the Mac’s vulnerability to ransomware

Ever since the Mac App Store launched with OS X Snow Leopard in 2009, Mac owners have had several options for installing programs to their computers. They can restrict themselves to apps from the Mac App Store (all of which are prescreened by Apple), use that store plus any applications they get from around the internet that are made by Apple-identified developers or just download anything. The latter is the riskiest, but there is danger even from the second option, as the case of Transmission demonstrates.

Transmission is a popular open source torrenting client for Mac. Somehow, its website – from which anyone can download the app – was compromised briefly in early 2016, allowing a virus to be packaged with Transmission. Once downloaded, the virus would lie dormant for three days before opening a Tor connection to the internet, locking essential system files and demanding a ransom of 1 bitcoin (about $400).

Granted, the circumstances surrounding the Transmission incident are not easily replicable or even conducive to widespread exploitation across the macOS ecosystem. The exploit was not as simple as blasting out a bunch of phishing emails, but instead required end users to download the app at a specific time and actually run the program so that the virus could activate via Transmission’s features.

Cyber security lessons from the Transmission breach

The ultimate impact of the Transmission virus was limited. However, the event holds some important lessons for both Mac, PC and mobile users:

1. Don’t assume your platform is safe
A compromised torrent client should not have needed to be the security wake-up call for Mac users. Many past threats have demonstrated the risk to macOS, from the FAKEAV scam (which packaged malware under a variety of names such as MacSweeper and MacProtector) to the Flashback family of Trojans that targeted weakness in Java and Adobe Flash Player. Both of these were documented years ago by Trend Micro.

2. It is getting easier for threats to go cross-platform
According to Intel security research architect Craig Schmugar (who recently spoke to eSecurity Planet), cyber criminals are now sharing the source code for their malware, making it easier than ever for threats to migrate from PC to Mac. Compared to PC malware, Mac variants are still relatively simple, but with the right mix of design and delivery, they can inflict harm, as the Transmission flaw revealed.

3. Ransomware and executable files are especially problematic
There are plenty of ways for a Mac to get infected with malware. However, two of the most common as of 2016 are ransomware and any executable files that have been tampered with. DMG, PKG and AppleScript files are all worth keeping an eye on. Ransomware issues with Transmission and KeRanger demonstrate that it is possible to take a Mac’s file “hostage” and demand payment for their safe return.

Like any computing platform, macOS has its fair share of vulnerabilities to cyber crime. Don’t leave your Mac’s security to chance. Invest in security software today.

Should you uninstall Kaspersky software?

Q: Should I uninstall Kaspersky anti-virus from my computer?

A recent Wall Street Journal story about a National Security Agency contractor that had classified documents on his home computer and was allegedly targeted because of his use of Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software has once again put the Russian cybersecurity company in the spotlight.

The theory is that hackers used the file inventory process that Kaspersky anti-virus uses to discover the sensitive files and target the contractor.

Concerned?  See below for suggestions on how to remove Kaspersky from your computer.


Government ban

Software from Kaspersky Lab was removed from the U.S. General Services Administration approved list in July and in September, the Department of Homeland Security ordered federal agencies to stop using any software made by Kaspersky Lab because of concerns about the company’s ties to Russian intelligence.

The founder of the company, Eugene Kaspersky, has long had a cloud of uncertainty over him because of his early ties to the KGB and its replacement, the FSB. As a teenager, he studied cryptography in school and by his mid-20s, he created an anti-virus program to protect his own computer that eventually led to Kaspersky Lab.

This most recent allegation certainly makes using the company’s software even more disconcerting.

Should you remove it?

Despite the company’s repeated denials of any connection to the Russian government, with the plethora of security programs that don’t come with the “Russian baggage,” switching to another program is the safest way to go.

To be realistic, the likelihood that you would somehow become the target of Russian government hackers just because you are using a Kaspersky program is pretty slim, but there’s no reason to take the chance.

Alternative programs

The vast majority of security programs on the market are actually from companies outside of the U.S. For example, popular programs such as AVG & Avast (Czech Republic), Bitdefender (Romania), ESET (Slovakia), F-Secure (Finland), Panda (Spain), Sophos (UK) and Trend Micro (Japan) are all controlled by companies outside the U.S.

Many in the U.S., because of ongoing concerns about the U.S. government’s overreach, have proclaimed their preference to using a program based in another country, especially allies such as Finland, the U.K. and Japan.a

Switch to Trend Micro, Security You Can Trust.

Removing Kaspersky Lab products

The standard way of removing programs in Windows is via Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs, or you can use Kaspersky’s removal tools for either Windows or MacOS.

Advanced Windows users may want to take the additional step of manually scanning the registry to a make sure that all Kaspersky-related keys have been removed.

Mac users can also use the free Dr. Cleaner app to ensure that it’s properly removed as simply dragging it to the trash does not properly remove it. Some programs like Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security can automatically remove other programs, which makes converting a large number of computers more efficient.

Ken Colburn is founder and CEO of Data Doctors Computer Services. Ask any tech question on Facebook or Twitter.

Ransomware : Don’t become a victim. Here’s how to stay safe.

Ransomware–don’t be its next victim. Learn how to stay safe online.

With the introduction of “WannaCry” ransomware in May, ransomware has captured the attention of all those who use the Internet to shop, communicate and just about everything else. The consequences of ransomware are so real that everyone should get protected.

What is ransomware?

It’s malware that locks down your files and keeps you from accessing them until you pay a ransom. Depending on the type of ransomware, that ransom could be anything of value that can be digitally transferred from Bitcoins to iTunes gift cards. If you paid the ransom the villains may release your files, but there are no guarantees.

You’ve probably heard how ransomware has attacked businesses and their operations (Equifax of late), but individuals are a major target as well. Unlike businesses most people don’t have the know-how to get rid of the ransomware on their own and often end up paying to get their data back. Therefore, you have to focus on prevention.

Given its potential impact, here are three important facts on ransomware you should understand as you take steps to protect yourself and your files.

Phishing Is the source of most ransomware

Most ransomware attacks come from phishing emails. There’s a good chance that those sketchy-looking messages pretending to be from your bank or another company contain some type of malware, and it could be ransomware. Your best bet? Use security software to block phishing emails, and if any slip through, ignore and delete.

Hackers target out-of-date software

Getting those notices to update your computer or mobile device software can be annoying, but hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities that they can exploit in software. Ransomware is most likely to take hold on devices don’t aren’t running the most up-to-date versions of software. Installing updates can mean the difference between an infected device and blissful ignorance of malware.

All connected devices are at risk

Finally, it’s not just your computer that’s at risk for ransomware. Any connected devices — smartphones, tablets, even your smart TV or thermostat. That’s right — hackers could hold your thermostat hostage, raising or lowering the temperature by a few degrees for every hour you don’t pay.