UPDATED with two additonal recommendations: A few Apple Mac security, storage and backing up tips for documents and photos.

I went to a presentation and discussion this week on ways to get to most out of your Apple Mac. The users were diverse and I found the discussion very interesting – seeing the issues and questions people had and their various approaches to using their machines. One of the issues that came up was securing your Mac.

My three rules for securing your Mac are:

  1. Turn onFile Vault” meaning your hard drive is encrypted;
  2. Turn on the firewall to keep online intruders out and,
  3. Turn off sharing unless (you have been told to leave something on for a program to use).

A few other things…

Unlike many Mac users, I also have anti-virus and malware protection software because I do a lot of work in Microsoft Office environments and Word, Excel and PowerPoint files can carry nasties. My advice? Use Apple’s Pages, Keynote and Numbers. They’re great apps. But if you need protection, I have a recommendation and have put a link to it below.

Second, back-up, back-up, backup: In an ideal world, you would have two to three forms of back-up. I discuss the must do and optional below.

Third, “turn everything on” particularly when it comes to storing photos.

UPDATED FRIDAY 23 FEBRUARY 2018

Two more things…

Installing new apps. Where possible buy only from the Mac App Store or directly from a well known software developer. And only allow downloads from “App Store” or “App Store and identified developers”. This is in “System Preferences” and “General”.  You can still download form other srouces and unidentified developers but there’s a few extra approvals you have to give. Almost everything you need is on the Mac App Store.

User accounts: If you have children or inexperienced users, do NOT give them Administator priviledges when you set up a new account. Only the owner or experienced users should have an Administrator account. On the house iMac, I am the administrator and the children both have ‘standard‘ accounts.

Pictures of the settings are at the bottom of this article.


Security

Here are some pictures of what to do via “System Preferences“:

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 12.31.57 pm.png

  1. File Vault

So, if your drive is NOT encrypted, someone could rip the hard drive out of your machine, put a cable on it and look at everything on your disk. File Vault puts a password on the disk.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 12.11.40 pm.png

2. Firewall

A firewall is like a lock on the door. If you don’t have this lock on, anyone can get into your machine via the internet (with the right tools).

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 12.18.39 pm.png

3. Sharing

This is mainly for office environments. My advice is to uncheck everything.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 12.14.48 pm.png


Anti-Virus and Malware

As I said, I work with files form Windows (Microsoft) operating systems. Most Mac users don’t need protection. Some do. I am one of them. I researched them all and landed on Bitdefender. It just runs in the background and updates itself. It has a few other cool features which are well worthwhile.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.04.31 pm.png

You can get a one year subscription for $60. I got three years for $150 via the Bitdefender web site.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.06.53 pm.png


Back-ups

I have three back-ups:

Must do: I use Apple’s inbuilt Time Machine to backup to a Time Capsule. This backs up every hour or two. You can back up to an external hard drive (see below) or to an Apple Time Capsule (and router) (recommended). This is a set and forget but is a lifesaver if your machine or disk dies. It is very easy to restore a copy of your disk to a new machine or disk.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.17.08 pm.png

Must do: Back up to cloud, preferably iCloud. There are two ways to make this happen on your Mac. Store all of your documents in “Documents” and then in “System Preferences” under “iCloud” tick iCloud and then press options and tick “Desktop & Documents Folders” so that what’s in both of these are saved to the Apple drive in the cloud. You may have to buy some storage. I have 200 gb with Apple for AUD4.50 a month.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.18.20 pm.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.18.39 pm.png

Alternatively, you can use DropBox, Google Drive, Box, Amazon Drive or One Drive to do pretty much the same thing. All of these mean whatever you save on your computer will be automatically copied and updated as they change to the cloud (providing you install software on your Mac and set it up correctly). It also means you can access them on your iPhone and iPad and on any machine via iCloud.com or the apps and sites of the other services mentioned.

Optional: I back-up at each day to an external drive. I just get a 1TB Toshiba Canvio Drive from OfficeWorks for AUD70. I use Carbon Copy Cloner to make a ‘bootable’ backup at 2 am each day. I have two of these and rotate them. I have connected to may Mac and another one safely stored elsewhere. On the first of each month I take one with a full copy of my encrypted disk to a friend’s place and I leave the disk there meaning I have an off-site back-up. On the first of each month, I swap it over with a fresh copy of my files.

So, I have an:

  1. On-site back-up
  2. A cloud back-up
  3. An off-site back-up

I am covered. But at a minimum, just make sure you do one and two.


Photos

Everyone loses photos at some point. It is heartbreaking. If you live in the Apple eco-system, my advice is – JUST TURN EVERYTHING ON – so that it all backs up.

On your Mac (via System Preferences, iCloud, Photos)….

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.35.52 pm.png

In the Photos app on your Mac (top left of your screen near the Apple logo- Photos – Preferences, iCloud)

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.38.52 pm.png

On your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch:

IMG_4B41303D0F98-1.jpeg


Installing new apps

Installing new apps. Where possible buy only from the Mac App Store or diretcly from a well known software developer. And only allow downloads from “App Store” or “App Store and identified developers”. This is in “System preferences” and “General”.  You can still download form other srouces and unidentified developers but there’s a few extra approvals you have to give. Almost everything you need is on the Mac App Store.

Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 9.46.15 am.png


User accounts

User accounts: If you have children or inexperienced users, do NOT give them Administator priviledges when you set up a new account. Only the owner or experienced users should have an Administrator account. On the house iMac, I am the administrator and the children both have ‘standard’ accounts.

Screen Shot 2018-02-23 at 9.46.49 am.png


Podcast

I spoke with a former Apple Genius about these and other issues in February 2018. You can listen to it here.


Updated: 23 February 2018