Perform Routine Maintenance On macOS 10.12 Sierra

HOW TO PERFORM ROUTINE MAINTENANCE ON MACOS 10.12 SIERRA

Most of the high-value items that you purchase include manufacturer recommended service schedules. Your car may need oil changes every 5,000 miles. Your air conditioner should be serviced at the start of the season, even your bicycle requires routine maintenance.

Except your computer.

Not that your computer doesn't need routine maintenance, it's just that the manufacturer (in this blog, Apple), doesn't specify what it should be.

As the manufacturer doesn't say anything about routine maintenance schedules, and history has taught us that running a computer without routine maintenance leads to a cascade of problems, what is a Macintosh user to do?

WHY PERFORM ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

Both US-CERT and NIST (the two primary US government groups responsible for developing IT best practices) recommend installing OS and application updates "as soon as possible". The reasoning behind this is to reduce or eliminate the chance of attack from zero-day exploits. Zero-day are vulnerabilities in software that have not yet been disclosed or addressed by the developer. Zero-day issues are the #1 reason for OS and software updates.

Another reason to perform routine maintenance is to ensure the entire infrastructure (be it a single home-use computer, or a large enterprise) is still operating at best practices standards. Some infrastructure items may have degraded (a cable becoming frayed), or a best practices standard may have changed, requiring a change in software or a system configuration modification.

WHEN TO PERFORM ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

  • Run Disk Utility at the first sign of problems or irregular system behavior
  • Run Disk Utility before any OS or application update or upgrade
  • Run Disk Utility after any OS or application update or upgrade
  • Complete security audit and routine maintenance at least once per month

WHO SHOULD PERFORM ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

If you or your organization is a HIPAA or SEC-covered entity, maintenance must be performed by certified personnel. It is also recommended that only certified personnel perform maintenance for any business system. This is based on the NIST and US-CERT recommendation that only those individuals with a specific need to know have access to an administrator password–which is required to perform maintenance.

For the home-user, this question is a bit more complicated. As the home user likely can't afford a professional to perform routine maintenance every month or two, they have to perform the maintenance themselves–at least until the cascade is overwhelming.

WHAT TO DO IN ROUTINE MAINTENANCE

Our monthly security audit includes a 63-point checklist, while our monthly routine maintenance includes a 54-point checklist. However, the small office/home office user can perform some of these checkpoints themselves.

  • At the first sign of unusual system behavior, and before any OS or application upgrade or update, run Disk Utility.
    1. Quit all applications
    2. Launch Disk Utility (located in the /Applications folder)
    3. Select the indented name of your boot drive from the sidebar
    4. Click the First Aid button from the tool bar
    5. At the prompt asking if you want to run First Aid, click Run
    6. At the prompt stating that First Aid needs to temporarily lock the boot volume, click Continue
    7. The Running First Aid on <drive name> Window appears. When it completes, click Done
    8. Quit Disk Utility
  • Install OS updates
    1. Select the Apple menu > App Store
    2. The App Store opens
    3. If there are any OS updates available, click Install for each
  • Install App Store application upgrades and updates
    1. To upgrade and update apps purchased from the Apple App Store, select the Apple menu > App Store
    2. The App Store opens
    3. If there are any app updates available, click Install for each
  • Install 3rd-party application upgrades and updates
    1. For each application installed on your system, check the version by
    2. Click the application icon
    3. Select the File menu > Get Info
    4. The Get Info window opens. Check the Version information
    5. Visit the developer site
    6. Find the current version
    7. If there is a newer version, download and then install it only from the developer site. It is far too easy to download bogus or infected software from any other site.
  • Verify anti-virus software is properly functioning
    1. We recommend using Bitdefender. If it is not functioning properly, the menubar icon will have an x in the bottom right corner
    2. If not performing properly, contact your IT support
  • Verify backups are running properly
  • Verify the environmental factors have not degraded (all cables in good shape, no machine airflow restrictions, etc.)
  • Install modem and router firmware updates
    1. Finding and installing firmware updates vary by device and internet provider
  • Verify Internet connectivity has not degraded
    1. Open a web browser to http://speedtest.net
    2. Click Go to start testing your internet performance
    3. When complete, measurements will be displayed. Ping should be under 100ms. Download and Upload should be within 80% of what speed you are paying for.
    4. If performance is not within expectations, contact your IT support
  • Remove RAM-resident malware in modem and router
    1. Power off modem and router
    2. Wait 2 minutes
    3. Power on modem
    4. When modem is fully functional (typically 2 minutes), power on router

These basic DIY steps can go a long way to stop the bigger problems from taking roost in your systems.

 

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