Giving old Macs a new lease of life

Anthony Caruana
13 March, 2018
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If there’s something to be learned from our recent survey, asking Macworld Australia readers about the oldest Macs still in use, then it’s that many of us like to ensure we extracted to maximum value from our investment in Apple gear. By the way, I’m still receiving emails about the oldest Macs in use with Andrew letting me know he still uses a couple of Mac Duos – 0030 and 040 models. He says they “were the best A4 page monitors in greyscale”.

I can’t boast being a Mac user for that long. I bought my first Mac – a 12-inch iBook (remember the shiny white, plastic models) back in the early 2000s, just a couple of years before I began as a contributor for Macworld Australia under the editorship of Matthew JC Powell. But since then I’ve owned more Macs than I can recall, ranging from PowerBooks and MacBook Pros through to the gorgeous iMac G4 (sometimes known as the “iLamp” through to modern iMacs and, today, a Mac mini and 11-inch MacBook Air.

The Mac mini, which I purchased as a refurbished unit from Apple, came with a 500GB spinning hard drive. For those who remember all the specs, that was a very slow hard drive – it spun at just 5,400rpm. As a result, it often took quite a bit of time for the machine to do – well almost anything. And the problem was exacerbated as Apple released upgraded versions of OS X (and then macOS) that were optimised for solid-state drives (SSDs).

Unfortunately, Apple didn’t make the last generation off Mac mini systems very easy to upgrade. But I called on a friend, Derek from the user group I’m a member of – iMug, who specialises in Mac upgrades and repairs. And he disassembled the Mac mini and replaced the old drive with a new 1TB SSD. After that, the Mac mini powered along.

More recently, I needed to upgrade, or replace, the battery in the MacBook Air. I spend a lot of time travelling and at conferences and being able to keep working for several hours between trips to a power outlet is important. The battery in my $400 used computer purchase was OK but barely made it through a couple of hours. So, I shopped around for a replacement.

I looked at Ebay but, to be honest, I’m not keen on buying a potentially explosive Li-Ion battery from someone across the world whose credentials I can’t validate. I took a look at my usual starting point,, but after an online chat, having identified the right battery had to cancel the transaction because of the US$60 shipping fee.

However, is a local distributor for the same battery and, as luck would have it, they had a 15% off sale last week. So, I purchased a replacement battery. It even came with the tools I needed to do the job.

That arrived yesterday and I followed the instructions (there are also online videos but I didn’t need those) and replaced the battery in the MacBook Air in about 15 minutes.

A few years ago, I replaced the hard drive in a MacBook Pro with an SSD and, while that was a slightly more complex procedure, I managed to do it and it made a massive difference to that computer’s performance.

So, for all of you out there who have older Macs that you want to keep using but find they are slowing down or aren’t quite up to the job when it comes to the latest software, it’s possible to add some years to the life of your Mac hardware.

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