Apple announces replacement program for 3TB hard drives in some iMac models

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Apple today announced a replacement program for the 3TB hard drive included in some 27-inch iMac models due to a concern that some of the components “may fail under certain conditions.” Apple doesn’t mention a specific product number, but notes that affected machines would have been sold between December 2012 and September 2013, which would apply to Apple’s late 2012 iMac model. Read more

The Best Mac Accessories and Upgrades

Over the past six months, I’ve published quite a few tutorials to help Mac users improve the performance of older computers, as well as some great guides to the best Mac accessories across a variety of categories. Today, I’m tying them all together in this handy, one-stop roundup of the best Mac accessories and upgrades.

This guide walks you through everything: in one place, you can learn about the best Mac hard drives, RAM upgrades, docks, keyboards, trackpads, stands, bags, and travel accessories out there. And you can also get free apps to improve your Mac’s storage and responsiveness, find plain English explanations of your Mac’s technical specs, and learn about the little security screws Apple uses to tamper-proof its machines. There’s a lot inside, so you may want to bookmark this piece for future reference!…

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How-To: Clean and speed up your Mac with free, trustworthy downloads

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“My Mac used to be fast, but now it’s running so slow.” I’ve heard many versions of this complaint, and they’re always factually true, not just opinions: Macs do become sluggish over time, even if all of their chips and hard drives are working like new.

I’ve devoted several columns to hardware solutions — replacing old hard drives with fast new SSDs, adding more RAM, and increasing storage capacity using an external drive — but there are software solutions, too. Even die-hard Apple fans will admit that Macs typically run new OS X versions better (faster, and with fewer bugs) if you start with a clean slate: completely wipe your hard drive, do a fresh install of the latest OS X release, and restore only the files you need. That’s not as hard as it sounds, but it’s a radical and fairly time-consuming solution.

This How-To article offers a simpler alternative. First, find and delete enough files to leave your Mac at least 50GB of free storage capacity — enough room for the Mac to work without pausing to manage its hard drive space. Next, cleanse the cruft OS X builds up in the background as you use your computer. Below, I’ll show you how two completely free Mac programs, GrandPerspective and OnyX, will do all the heavy lifting for you. GrandPerspective offers a highly visual display of what’s taking up space on your Mac; Onyx cleans up the Mac files you’d be afraid to touch yourself…

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How-To: Reclaim your Mac’s old hard drive or build a new one with an external USB enclosure

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Earlier this year, I wrote several guides to boost the speeds of older Macs by swapping their internal hard drives for super-fast solid state drives (SSDs). As readers have confirmed, their older iMacs, MacBooks, and Mac Pros have seen dramatic improvements with new SSDs. But some people were left with a question: what should I do with my Mac’s old hard drive? Throw it away?

A great answer: put it in an external hard drive enclosure and keep using it! My latest How-To shows you how easy it is to reclaim your Mac’s old drive by installing it in a nice USB enclosure such as Akitio’s SK-3501U3 (shown here), which I chose because of its Mac-matching design, reasonable sub-$40 price, and compatibility. External enclosures are also ideal options if you want to choose a high-quality hard drive mechanism for yourself, rather than taking a risk on whatever might be hidden inside a fully-assembled external drive. I’ll explain that, and much more, below…

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Review: LaCie’s 4TB Rugged Thunderbolt/USB 3 portable hard drive delivers SSD-like speed at HDD cost

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LaCie announced its new 4TB Thunderbolt/USB 3 Rugged RAID portable hard drive ($420 list, $399 Amazon) today, and I’ve had some time to take it for a little ‘spin.’ There are two speedy 7200RPM 2TB portable hard drives RAID-ed together inside to give the device very impressive, almost SSD-like speeds but with the cost savings and huge storage of portable hard drives. At the same time, the package isn’t much bigger than a regular portable hard drive and better yet, it can take a serious beating…

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LaCie’s new Porsche Design Mobile Drive USB-C will support 12″ Retina MacBook

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LaCie today announced that its upcoming Porsche Design Mobile Drive USB-C (USB 3.0) will be its first design with a “user-friendly USB-C connector,” compatible with Apple’s just-announced 12″ MacBook laptop. The USB-C connector will be built into the plastic edge of the distinctively boxy solid aluminum housing, with an included adapter cable for traditional USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 connector compatibility. Using USB-C or USB 3.0, the drive promises transfer speeds up to 100MB/second, with a speed reduction when using USB 2.0.

The drive will come in three capacities: a slim 500GB model (shown below) and regular-sized 1TB and 2TB units (shown above). LaCie has not yet announced pricing for the drives, but plans to release them in the second quarter of 2015. We would expect to see quite a few USB-C drives by then, as both Apple and its customers continue a transition away from Thunderbolt that seemed inevitable back in 2013.

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Sonnet announces 15-port Echo Thunderbolt dock with built-in HDD/SSD & optical drive options

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The much-anticipated Belkin Thunderbolt Dock appears to be delayed once again unfortunately, missing its planned Q1 launch, despite taking pre-orders for the device in February after missing its original September launch date. While we’ve been recommending the popular Matrox Thunderbolt Docking station in the meantime, today Sonnet announced a new competitor in the space with the Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock.

The 15-port dock includes many of the ins and outs you’d expect: Two thunderbolt ports, four USB 3.0 ports, 3.5mm audio in and out (front and back), FireWire 800, Gigabit Ethernet, and two eSATA ports. However, there are two features this 15-port Thunderbolt docking station has that most others do not: extra space to install a 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch SATA HDD or SSD and your choice of a built-in DVD or Blu-Ray drive:

the Echo 15 Thunderbolt dock has you covered—it includes your choice of DVD±RW drive, or Blu-ray Disc™ player (BD-ROM/8x DVD±RW). If you are a Mac user, you’ll also find that the included Blu-ray player software for OS X® is very handy, enabling you to watch Blu-ray movies on your computer or attached monitor.

The fast 6 Gb/s SATA interface supports an HDD at its maximum speeds, and an SSD at up to 380 MB/s… Best of all, the drive sits inside the Echo dock, so you don’t have to clutter your desk space with an external hard drive and its power brick and cable clutter to add more storage. Don’t feel like adding a drive yourself? Sonnet also offers the Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock equipped with a 2TB HDD, available exclusively through the Sonnet online store.

The Sonnet Echo 15 Thunderbolt Dock is available to pre-order now in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico starting at $399 for a DVD drive and no built-in drive. The next model up comes with a built-in 2TB HDD for $499, while a Blu-ray drive and 2TB HDD brings it up to $549. Other options are also available through Sonnet’s website, and most models are expected to ship in Summer 2013.

60TB drives made possible by Seagate’s new 1 TB/inch platter tech

Seagate officially announced and demoed the first hard drive technology to achieve a storage density of 1 TB per square inch. The technology could enable hard drives over the next decade to reach an unheard of storage capacity up to 60 TB for a 3.5-inch drive. Helping them to accomplish this milestone is heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR); a next-generation recording technology that will replace Perpendicular Magnetic Recording currently used in hard drives. Seagate explained:
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