The holidays are a time for getting together with friends and family. And for computer folks these get togethers usually include requests from family members to fix their tech. My whole family is and Apple family and they are very self sufficient so I don’t get very many tech support questions anymore.
Although most family support questions are handled by Apple’s Genius Bar I still have a role to fill with my wife and kids. I jokingly refer to my role as the Family IT Janitor.
In our family we’ve got 2 MacBooks, 2 iPhones, and 4 iPads. There’s a level of maintenance required with keeping everything running well. Here’s what I do every other month to all of the family devices.
All the updates!
1. Update Operating System
First step is to make sure all the devices are running the latest version of their OS. iPads and iPhones get updated iOS regularly. For major OSX updates I usually wait a month so the wrinkles get ironed out and there’s time for all the software incompatibilities to be fixed.
2. Update Applications
After the OS is updated I’ll update all the apps to the latest version. This is usually a trivial task except it sometimes takes a long time to update all the games on the kids iPads.
Clean it out
3. Physically clean devices
My wife and my devices don’t get very dirty since we’re responsible adults. The kids are another story. Their iPads are in Otterbox Defender cases. The cases keep the iPads safe, but require the screen and outer shell to be cleaned after a few weeks of use.
Okay, I was kidding about the adult bit. I also need to clean the laptop screens with a screen cleaner.
4. Delete unused apps
Next, I’ll go through my devices and remove any unused apps. I’ll ask the kids if there are any games they don’t play anymore and remove those. On the laptops I’ll run Clean My Mac to remove unused files.
5. Clean backpack
I live out of my NorthFace Surge II backpack and it gets full of clutter. I take a second to remove everything from it, toss the rubbish, and put everything back.
Back it up
6. Backup to the mothership
For the iOS devices I’ll run a backup and sync to the laptop they are tied to. Then I’ll pull all the photos and videos my kids take and put them with the others.
7. Make sure there are no untracked files
This applies to the laptops mostly. Since we travel often and our laptops are key to our livelihood I try to keep them in a state where if they were to be lost, damaged, or stolen I wouldn’t lose any data. This means making sure that all my personal data and code is either in a synced Dropbox folder (pictures and documents), checked into GitHub (code), or moved off the laptop to Amazon S3 (video and movie projects).
After these seven steps I can take off my IT Janitor overalls and get back to life!