Secure those Macs: Apple must step up and support older machines


Image: Pixabay user dokumol

I have long advocated keeping machines up to date. When machines become too old to update, I’ve bitten the bullet and dumped them, even if they were still fully functional.

With all the malware and ransomware, not to mention simple flaws that could cause a system to crash, it’s become necessary to keep machines up to date, regularly updating both operating system and applications software. When that software can no longer be updated, it’s time to toss the machine.

But should it be?

I just finished upgrading my small fleet of older Macs. I pulled one iMac and four Mac minis out of service. The iMac went to a friend who’s tech savvy enough and responsible enough to manage his own security.

But those four Mac minis are now sitting on a shelf. I’d like to donate them to a local school or library. But because they can’t be upgraded to the latest versions of MacOS (and can’t have the latest security fixes), I won’t give them to unsuspecting muggles, no matter how deserving they might be. 

Making donations of woefully out-of-date machines that can’t get security updates isn’t an act of charity, it’s creating potential victims.

But here’s the thing. Even though those Mac minis are eight and nine years old, they are perfectly functional. Given Apple’s build quality, there is no reason they wouldn’t keep chugging along for another eight or nine years.

The modern tech lifecycle

Most IT folk understand and probably even agree with the modern tech lifecycle. Put simply, as newer releases of computers and operating systems come out, older software and hardware become obsoleted.

Vendors don’t want to continue to support systems that are quite old. Developers don’t want to test against numerous generations of older machines. The cost to maintain and update the dregs of old gear is impractical.

It’s also impractical, because features that run like the wind on new hardware can be dog slow on older hardware. Some features (for…