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External hard drives slow Macs down

A new Mac is like a dream come true for users. It’s fast and loaded with useful features to learn about. One useful feature is Time Machine, a backup program which requires users to have an external hard drive to store backups of the computer on. Many Mac owners use this feature, and often leave the hard drive connected. Unbeknownst to most, this can slow down your system.

If you have an external hard drive and leave it connected to your computer, you’ve probably noticed that it will randomly start up the hard drive, even when the drive isn’t in use. This is because the drive has gone to sleep and the computer wants to wake it up, the only problem is that this normally happens when the drive isn’t being used. This causes your system to slow down unnecessarily. To stop this, you have two options:

1. Unmount when not in use. When you plug in your hard drive, it will show up on your desktop and you’ll be able to use it. This is called mounting. Unmounting your hard drive is making it inaccessible to your computer, but not unplugging it. You can unmount your hard drive by dragging it to the trash. When you do this, you won’t be able to use it. When you want to use the drive again you can do so by simply unplugging and plugging it in again.

2. Don’t let the hard drive sleep. To keep your hard drive from going to sleep, press the Apple icon in the top left of your screen. Select System Preferences… followed by Energy Saver. Deselect the box that says Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible. Be careful with this feature, as it will cause the hard drive to be on all the time, leading to a shorter lifespan.

If you’re unsure which method you should use with your Mac, or would like to learn more useful tips, please contact us.