One of the many nice things about using a Mac is its longer-than-average lifespan. Excellent build quality combined with consistently stable software makes for a machine that just keeps ticking. But eventually, every computers must go to the great recycling center in the sky. Here are a few things to look for that may tip you off that the end is near.
No More Repairs
Once a Mac has reached five years old, Apple will (usually) stop offering repairs for it. It’s considered a vintage product, and outside of a few exceptions, hardware service is discontinued at that point. Once that same Mac reaches seven years old, it’s upgraded to obsolete. At that point, hardware service is no longer available, period. No more exceptions.
That doesn’t rule out third-party repairs, obviously. And many Macs make it a lot longer than five or seven years by getting their service performed at reputable service centers. But consider this: remember when IDE drives were the standard for all computers? Good luck finding one at any computer repair shop. This sort of thing happens all the time, and it will happen eventually to every Mac that’s in use now. If you’ve got a Mac that can’t find the parts it needs to be repaired, it’s probably time to move on.
We all have our favorite applications. Messaging apps, photo editors, super cool social media platforms, there’s all kinds. But every developer has to choose at some point where to draw the line in the sand for compatibility. Often, it’s an arbitrary cutoff based on operating system (we’ll get to that), but sometimes apps are limited by other things. Several years ago, when Apple moved to using Intel processors instead of PowerPC, a translator called Rosetta helped some applications limp along that hadn’t been updated to work with Intel systems. Rosetta was dropped with the introduction of 10.7 Lion, and with it, any applications that still relied on PowerPC architecture. It was a sad day for many vintage app lovers. With the upcoming transition away from 32-bit architecture, a similar cleansing may be just around the corner. If your Mac won’t support any of these updated applications, then you may want to start shopping.
The macOS Ceiling
Apple has been releasing a new version of macOS every year since 2011. The most recent release, macOS 1013 High Sierra, doesn’t support any computers released earlier than late 2009. That’s a big window, sure, but tell that to someone still using the unibody aluminum MacBook from 2008. That was a great computer, but it’s stuck on El Capitan. Without the most recent version of Apple’s operating system, important updates to security and stability get missed out on. And developers wanting to take advantage of new features must occasionally drop support for older operating systems, as well. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to lag behind the software upgrade curve (like with High Sierra, for instance. We still don’t recommend it.), but it’s better to do that by choice than due to hardware limitations. Anyone sitting on an outdated macOS install might want to start thinking about a new machine.
Needing a repair? Maybe your hard drive is failing, or your space bar quit working. Or perhaps it’s something more catastrophic, like a can of soda straight to the logic board. Parts might still be available for these repairs, but just because your computer isn’t obsolete doesn’t mean that it’s worth fixing. Repairs can be pricey, and investing money into them doesn’t always make sense. It boils down to a value question, ultimately, which only the user can answer: is your money better spent fixing an aging computer, or going towards the purchase of a shiny, new computer? If you start thinking the latter option makes a lot of sense, then it’s time to start saving.