Don't do it! Just say no to the Fusion Drive!

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There are two basic types of storage devices available on the market today: traditional platter style or hard disk drives and solid-state drives.

For the lowest cost per gigabyte, you can’t go wrong with a hard drive, and they come in truly massive sizes—up to a whopping 8 terabytes. However, they’re slow and their performance is lacking especially with the technological demands we place on computers todays.

For speed and reliability, you want a solid-state drive, also known as an SSD. Because SSDs rely on flash storage, a type of non-volatile memory whose chips retain data without power, they’re lightning fast. But chips are more expensive than hard disk platters and read/write heads, so the $250–$300 that will get you an 8 TB hard drive is enough for only a 1 TB SSD.

So in 2012, Apple came up with an ill begotten compromise: the Fusion Drive. As its name suggests, a Fusion Drive is meant to provide the best of both worlds by providing much of the speed of an SSD along with the capacity of a hard drive. However, in reality it is a Frankenstein monstrosity that should never enter a business office.

While it is true that you might be able to get away with a Fusion Drive in a machine intended for home use – it will never be able to handle a substantial work load.

To make matters worse, many Apple stores' only stock options for the iMac and Mac mini have  Fusion Drives. This means that you have to special order a machine to avoid getting stuck with the curse of rainbow wheel which will be your inevitable fate as the Fusion Drive gets stuck switching between the two sides of itself.

One final note. As of this writing, macOS 10.13 High Sierra will not convert a Fusion Drive to Apple’s new APFS file system. We anticipate that will change at some point in the next year, and it is true that APFS might make Fusion Drives a little bit faster though not necessarily anymore reliable.

All that said, if you want the best performance and can afford the cost you should get an SSD. Should you need more space than an SSD can provide, consider using the SSD internally and adding an external hard drive connected via USB 3 or Thunderbolt 3. With today’s technological demands, we cannot in good faith recommend purchasing a computer with a hard disk drive as the primary storage for a Mac unless low cost is absolutely paramount. A hard disk drive's performance just won’t cut it anymore. Which is partly why the Fusion Drive fails to deliver.

PSA: Beware Tech Support Scams

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Apple does a great job with Macs, iPhones, and iPads, but stuff goes wrong all the time—as real professional providers of technical support we know that better than anyone.

So, tech support scams that try to defraud unsuspecting users in the name of fixing problems that don’t exist really, really, really get under our skin. Therefore, we’ve put together some helpful tips on how to protect yourself.

Let’s Break Down How These Scams Work

Step 1 of being a horrible human being trying to trick innocent computer users is trying to get you on the phone. You might see an alarming pop-up message informing you of some problem—possibly even that you’ve contracted a virus or your identity has been compromised-and then helpfully providing a number to call for help. Or possibly you end up on a Web site that offers a free “security scan” that claims it will help you find problems and urges you with scary language to call. Heck, now a days you may   even receive a direct call from someone claiming to be from Apple, Google, or Microsoft—Doug gets these all the time.

Now once they get you on the line, the sleaze balls’ next objective is to convince you to pay them to solve your “problem.”

They do this by throwing around technical terms and having you look at low-level files that, they’ll say, show evidence of issues like malware infection or file corruption. They may even ask for remote access to your Mac using legitimate software like TeamViewer and use it to show you log messages that look like concerning errors.

If you fall for this tech talk, the scammers close in for the kill. They may ask for your credit card number to pay for the “services” they’ve rendered, enroll you in a fake maintenance or warranty program, sell you software that is normally available as a free download, or install malware that will give them continued access to your computer. No bueno.

 

Here is How to Protect Yourself from These Scam-holes

- First, never ever call a phone number that appears in a pop-up dialog, no matter what it says. Legitimate messages will never ask you to do that.

- If you get an unexpected call from someone you don’t know claiming to be tech support, hang up immediately. Don’t be fooled by caller ID, since it can be spoofed to look like the call is coming from a legitimate company, like Apple.

- Don’t give your passwords to anyone who contacts you on the phone, and never allow anyone you haven’t met in person (and trust!) to control your Mac remotely.

- Lastly, if you are even remotely unsure about whether a pop-up or phone call is legitimate or a scam artist—CALL US! We’d be happy to talk with the supposed tech support or check your machine to see if there really is anything wrong with. That is what we are here for.

Now, the awkward part here is that, if we do provide tech support for you and particularly if we’re providing you with proactive notification of problems, we may need to call you and even ask for remote control of your Mac. However, we will always identify ourselves clearly, and if you’re at all concerned, you can call us back at a contact number you already have or ask us for some piece of information no scammer could know. Its always better to be safe than sorry.

 

If You Do Get Con’ed, Here Are the Next Steps

First, we’re here to help you for real. So, please feel free to contact us for assistance. That said, there are three main things to focus on:

- Change any passwords that you shared to something completely different. Do NOT add numbers or symbols to the password you currently use. Do NOT use a simplar password. Do NOT pass go—its’s a bummer but its gotta be completely differently (side note: the longer the password the better, think passpharses). Plus, if you use the same passwords on any Web sites, change those passwords too.

- If you have legitimate anti-malware software, run it to make sure the scammer didn’t install anything evil on your Mac—or call us and we will do that for you. If you don’t have up-to-date anti-malware software, contact us to see what we recommend.

- If you paid for any bogus services, call your credit card company as soon as possible and reverse the charges. You can also report the incident to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint.

Finally, you need to beware of the “refund scam.” Several months after you’ve been scammed, you might get a call asking if you were satisfied with the service and offering a refund if you weren’t happy, or saying that the company is filing for bankruptcy and providing refunds. Either way, the scammer will then ask for your bank account or credit card number to process the refund, but instead of depositing money, the heathens will steal more. Yes, unfortunately people actually do this. If you get a call like this, hang up immediately.

Does your company have a Mobile Device Management policy?

mobile device management

Workplace mobility has become one of the highly sought-after characteristics of many job-seekers.  A list of the 100 top companies with work from home jobs was recently published by www.flexjobs.com (https://www.flexjobs.com/blog/post/100-top-companies-with-work-from-home-jobs-in-2016) The list includes companies like Dell, Amazon, Humana, American Express, and, of course, Apple. Why has this trend increased year over year?

 

The ability to work remotely has unique advantages recognized by many employers. According to www.remotenation.co, when an employer offers a flexible work arrangement, employees are happier, leading to increased morale and higher retention rates. In addition to this, workplace mobility hits the bottom line by saving money that would have been used for more workspace. 

Years ago, workplace mobility meant company-issued laptops, Blackberries, and modems. Palm pilots were all the fad and email was the “in” thing. In 2007, that all changed with the introduction of the iPhone. Today, the remote office has become the “Bring-Your-Own-Device” (BYOD) phenomenon. In fact, BYOD is becoming CYOD (“Choose-Your-Own-Device). And today, the “Internet of Things” (IOT) is working its way into all aspects of life thanks to the Apple Watch and other wearables.

Think about this. If your company offers a flex job situation, your employees are not only taking work home, but they can be potentially, if not inadvertently, sharing this information with 3rd parties. Does your business have an effective Mobile Device Management (MDM) policy? What is MDM anyway?

MDM is the policy set forth by your company to manage all devices linked to your business. This policy includes the software, deployment, and execution that will be used in conjunction with your business’s workplace mobility standards. Without an MDM policy in place, your employee-owned iPhone or Apple Watch is a disaster waiting to happen. There are inherent risks when your business offers employees a remote work/BYOD/CYOD opportunity. Consider the following:

  • Insecure work data
  • Lack of control parameters
  • A lost or stolen device

With those risks and many more, your company needs to have an effective MDM policy that will present a unified strategy with strategic controls in place. MDM can help to ensure that your company’s information is kept safe, both on company and employee provided devices.

Mac IT Solutions offers MDM support so that you can focus on the day to day dealings of your business without worrying about the security of your data. Let Mac IT Solutions partner with you and assist with a customized MDM policy that will meet your business goals and ensure that the information you need to be kept secure will not fall into the wrong hands. 

Call us today for a free consultation. We can be reached at (210) 767-3303 or email info@macitsolutions.com to schedule an appointment. 

For further reading:

http://www.itworld.com/article/2742154/mobile/how-mobile-device-management-works.html

http://betanews.com/2016/01/27/what-you-need-to-know-about-mobile-device-management/

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/01/how-the-smartphone-changed-everything-or-the-rise-of-byod-in-the-workplace/

http://remotenation.co/blog/remote-working-on-the-rise-creating-happier-employees/

http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/10-things/10-ways-byod-will-evolve-in-2016/

Malware - Can you trust a Mac?

It’s been an experience that many people have endured: a PC starts slowing down; an annoying ad consistently pops up every other click; the dreaded black screen of death. Does this sound familiar? If it doesn’t, you’re probably on a Mac. Congratulations!

With the attention given to computer viruses lately, many Mac users have had the same question: Can my Mac be infected by malware? What is Malware anyway?

Malware (AKA “malicious” software) is software created by scrupulous individuals or groups who want to either harm your computer or gain access to the information stored in your computer.  I’m happy to tell you that malware on a Mac is an extremely rare occurrence. There are a few reasons for this.

First, your Mac is built on the UNIX Operating System. UNIX is a trusted brand in the industry and it is known for its stability and longevity. Developed in the 1970s, UNIX has been around for over 40 years (www.unix.org). 

Next, many viruses and malware are designed for the Microsoft Windows OS. Since virus-makers are most familiar with Microsoft Windows, it very easy for them to create those nasty little bugs and worms that creep into many Windows-based machines. 

On the contrary, your Mac OS X is not only easy to use and beautiful to look at, it comes with top notch security features. Go here for more information: http://www.apple.com/osx/what-is/security/

Now, for all the fun, coolness, and unsurpassed stability our beloved Macs offer us, we can’t throw caution out the window (no pun intended). As a business, and as an individual Mac owner, you will want to take steps for protection. Here are a few:

  1. Make sure the latest Apple security updates are installed

Mac OS X will typically be set up for any automatic updates. You can also initiate an update from the App Store by selecting the “Updates” icon. To view or modify your Mac’s update preferences, just go to the Apple menu then select System Preferences. Next, click App Store.

  1. Don’t use your Administrator account for your general use.

The Administrator account allows many changes to take place in your system. Create a separate standard account that will be the “front line” of defense. To do this, go to System Preferences and select Users & Groups. If your Mac is subject to a Malware attack, using a standard account will isolate the attack to that account only. 

  1. Only open files from known sources

If you ever receive an unsolicited pop-up asking you for your Administrator password, your first instinct should be to decline unless it is from a known source (such as a legitimately installed program).

Mac IT Solutions can detect and remove viruses as well as provide security layers on your network that shield against malware attacks on your Mac. To safeguard your business or, if you have any questions, please contact us at (210) 767-3303 or email info@macitsolutions.com to schedule an appointment. 

Congratulations Mac IT Team!!

Mac IT Solutions is proud to announce that two of our technical support staff, Daniel Martinez and Tony Dominguez, have recently earned their certifications as Apple Certified Support Professionals.  Both Daniel and Tony came to our company with experience and a passion for all things Apple. We’re happy to say that our entire technical staff is now Apple certified and we couldn’t be more excited about this, and what it means for our clients!

Apple certification has its advantages. Both professionalism and increased productivity are marks of a person who has taken the path to certification. But, the road to certification isn’t an easy one. There are lots of details and facts to remember. The certification exam draws off your experience with Apple products and your thorough knowledge about all things Apple.

Apple certification is a unique recognition that not many technicians have. That’s because Apple Certification recognizes that the technician is completely knowledgable about the Mac systems that he has to maintain, demonstrating a competence and expertise with Apple products.

When you employ an Apple Certified technician, your business will reap the benefits of hiring someone with improved skills. This translates into an overall savings of company time and revenue as well as increasing your business proficiency and, potentially, profitability. If you use a Mac-based framework, the best thing to do is to get Apple Certified technicians to maintain and service your Macs.

Sure, you can probably take your Mac and business networks to technicians in the PC-world that have a general focus on technical work. But, you will run the risk of having someone who is not familiar with the Mac framework modify your settings or use inferior hardware. It is best to bring your Mac or network-of-Macs to an Apple Certified Support Professional.

Apple uses the same certification for its in-house technicians that our staff has. Bringing your Mac Network to Mac IT Solutions is just like contacting Apple itself. The difference is that we’re locally owned and operated. We’ve been in business since 2007 and we have a drive to see your business succeed. Check out our five-star reviews at Apple’s Consultant Network here: 

https://consultants.apple.com/us/506917#ratingAndReview

As a business, this offers you the assurance that an expert staff of Mac enthusiasts are caring for your Macs and your network with lots of love. After all, we love our Macs!

You will find the market flooded with PC technicians. Apple Certified technicians are the few and the elite. They are the ones who have taken the extra step to become experts at what they love doing - servicing and caring for your Mac.

So, if you’re ready to have your Business take the next step in service and security, contact Mac IT Solutions today! We can be reached at (210) 767-3303 or email info@macitsolutions.com to schedule an appointment.

It's a question many have asked: Should your Business upgrade to El Capitan?

El Capitan (OS X 10.11) is out! Has your business upgraded? This is a question many Mac enthusiasts (who just happen to be business owners) are pondering. El Capitan is the third OS X download released to Mac users absolutely free.

Many Mac users took the plunge and upgraded after the September 31, 2015 release. According to ComputerWorld, 25% of all Mac Users upgraded to El Capitan in the first full month! And why not? El Capitan just has a whole lot of coolness to offer and for many, this is enough to make them upgrade. 

For you productivity-oriented types (and what business owner isn’t?), the latest Mac OS version offers Split View. If you’re thinking, “What can I use this for?” - you need to check it out. El Capitan’s Split View allows you to have two applications open side-by-side on your screen.

If you have ever lost your keys, you know what it’s like to lose that elusive cursor; especially when you start up your Mac and start moving around the mouse to orient yourself. Well, El Capitan has the solution! Shake that mouse or flick your fingers on that mousepad and the cursor will grow in size for easy location.

One of the features of the previous versions of Mac’s OS that caused Corporate users to shy away is Apple’s Mail app. El Capitan has provided some great improvements that you corporate types will find useful including the ability to add events mentioned in your email to your Calendar. The new mail app will also make smart suggestions for new contacts.

Is this enough to make you upgrade? This really depends on the way you use your Mac and the types of apps you currently have. However, as with any new OS release, there are bugs and fixes with each new version. As always, we recommend waiting until the “.3” release before fully upgrading. 

For example, one point of contention is the issue some experienced with Microsoft Office 2016 after upgrading to 10.11.1. The kinks were worked out with version 10.11.2. In fact, El Capitan’s version 10.11.3 is currently in Beta. This means that, if you’re holding out on taking the plunge, upgrading is closer than you think!

Will you upgrade your Mac to the latest OS? If you’re still not sure, feel free to give us a call at (210) 767-3303 or email support@macitsolutions.com to schedule an appointment!. We'd be happy to help you in your decision.

 

Articles of interest:

New features that will make OS X El Capitan worth downloading. http://www.eweek.com/pc-hardware/slideshows/new-features-that-will-make-os-x-el-capitan-worth-downloading.html

What's in OS X El Capitan for business? http://news.yahoo.com/whats-os-x-el-capitan-180000045.html

El Capitan changes http://www.businessinsider.com/mac-os-x-el-capitan-2015-6

Business features of El Capitan http://www.iskysoft.com/article/mac-os-x-el-capitan-features-for-business.html

Mac owners upgrade to OS X El Capitan at record rate (http://www.computerworld.com/article/3000325/mac-os-x/mac-owners-upgrade-to-os-x-el-capitan-at-record-rate.html)

Adding a new user in Google Apps

Log in to your Google Apps admin account from a web browser

ie:  http://google.com/a/yourcompany.com

From the Control Panel, select Organization & Users

Select "Create a new user"

Enter the new user's first & last name as well as the desired email address.
You can either make note of the temporary password or click "Set Password" (recommended) and then save.

Google will give you the option to email or print instructions for the user. 

You can now select Done or Create another user

I recommend logging in as the user for the first time to accept the terms and conditions.  To do this, simply logout of the control panel as the Google admin and then log in using the credentials of the newly created user.  You will be have to confirm that you are human and accept the terms in order to finish creating the account.  You can now log out as the new user and they can begin using their account.  

Mac IT earns Mobile Technical Competency

Mac IT Solutions is proud to anncounce that we have earned Apple's Mobility Technical Compentency for iOS Deployment & Management.

Doug Tomlinson has recently earned a competency in the Apple iOS mobility arena.   This comptency allows us to deploy and manage iOS devices for both small to medium business as well as in Enterprise environments.  We are proud to be the first consultanting firm in South Texas to earn this honor.  

In order to qualify, Doug was required to earn certifications in both 10.7 Lion Client Management, 10.7 Lion Server Management, and iOS Security.  Doug recently attended Apple Advanced Camp where he worked with Apple System Engineers and members of the Apple Professional Services teams.  This consisted in a full week of tranining, hands on labs, best practices, and real world deployment scenarios.  

Doug's expertise in Microsoft proudcts such as MS Exchange and Active Directory sets Mac IT Solutions apart from our competition.  We look forward to working with customers of all sizes in planning, implementing, management, and training of enterprise customers who are looking to deploy iPhones & iPads in their environments.

For more information on how Mac IT Solutions can augment your existing IT departments, please contact us to get started.

I want a new laptop!

So I'll start by admitting that I like new toys as much as the next guy...maybe even a bit more than the next guy.

That said, the fact that I've been carrying the same laptop for nearly 2 years just isn't sitting well with me.  Crystal & Juan are both sporting newer models with Thunderbolt and Juan still rubs his SSD in my face from time to time.  I might also add that my current 15" MacBook Pro is the first laptop that I've ever dropped and although it's been a good six months, I am reminded of it every day by it's sad little dented corner.

So why don't I just shut up and buy a new laptop?  Well...I'm not sure what I want and I'm not sure if Apple is going to give me what I THINK I want.  What do I want, you ask?  I'd like a 15" MacBook Air, please...

Rumors have been around since the summer that one might just be a reality.  Mac Rumors

I've been asked: "Doesn't a 15" negate the purpose of an air?"  I say "it depends".  Who knows what kind of connectors it would have.  Firewire?  Not likely.  I could live with that if vendors would hurry up and begin making Thunderbolt external drives more available.  I don't have many demands...just give me a higher resolution screen than that of the 13" and surely with a larger footprint Apple can solder an extra 4GB of RAM in there somewhere.

So really, Apple...that's all I want for Christmas this year.  A shiny new 15" MacBook Air with a beautiful high-res screen and 8GB of RAM.  Beyond that....I'm willing to comply, in normal Apple fashion, with pretty much whatever Apple decides I need.

 

**Update**  So we didn't get a 15" MacBook Air but we did get new MacBook Pros with Retina Displays which came in much thinner and more streamlined than previous models.  I'm happy to report that I have a shiny new 13" MacBook Pro Retina and am loving it!

Fix Black Screen in LogMeIn

Try:

sudo ps auxwww | grep loginwindow | grep root | grep -v grep | awk '{print $2}' | xargs sudo kill -9

2 links here:

http://superuser.com/questions/265599/black-screen-on-logmein-and-apple-remote-desktop-on-mac-os-x-server-10-6-6-whic

http://www.remotemacserver.com/?p=41

Instructions in the first link have been successful for me.  I read on the LMI forums that installing the LMI plugin on the destination machine may also halt this behaviour but I haven't tested.