I’m sure by now you are aware of COVID-19, the cornavirus originating from Wuhan, China. I've been tracking the outbreak since late January. I am friends with several doctors and have discussed the virus with multiple medical professionals. I try very hard, both personally and professionally, to be realistic. I consider COVID-19 an incredibly serious matter.
Effective immediately, MacAtoZ will be going "Remote Only" for our residential clients until the situation is contained.
We will not be making house calls.
For most of the things we do, this move to "remote only" will have no impact whatsoever. We already monitor, maintain, and secure Macs this way, so Sentinel and Sentinel+ clients should see little change. We've always prioritized booking appointments remotely because we can serve clients faster and such appointments tend to be less expensive. We are hopeful that our temporary "remote only" policy is, at worst, a minor inconvenience.
I hope that the "why" for this policy is obvious, but I want to explain.
COVID-19 can spread asymptomatically. That means I can feel fine right now—having no symptoms—but still be infected and spreading the contagion. If I were infected and visited a client at home, I could infect that client and/or their spouse, and be none the wiser until well after. Since this is a new virus, human beings have no natural immunity to it, and there is no vaccine or antidote yet available.
Despite what some have said, this virus is more dangerous than the flu. (And we've had a really rough flu season.)
Around 80% of COVID-19 infections result in a mild case (dry cough, low grade fever) that resolves in two weeks or less. But in 20% of cases, COVID-19 can be serious enough to require hospitalization. If Italy—which has a modern medical system like ours—can be swamped with COVID-19 patients, it can happen here as well. We need to be prepared.
Based on current data, COVID-19 has a fatality rate of 1% to 3%, but that rate is as high as 14.8% in people over age 70. Because of limited testing—meaning there are more real world cases than are being reported or tested—the case fatality rate is likely much lower. That does not mean COVID-19 is not dangerous to high risk individuals; precautions are absolutely warranted.
Things you can do:
- Wash hands frequently for at least 20 seconds using soap and water (hand sanitizer okay too);
- Distance yourself socially (at least 3 feet from others) whenever possible;
- Clean and disinfect door handles, light switches, etc.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, face
- Make sure you have adequate supplies to shelter in your home for at least several weeks;
- Stay home. If you don't have to go out, don't.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an updated list of recommendations
We will see an enormous increase in the number of cases in the Northwest. Because of inadequate testing and a refusal to close schools early, we will lose containment on the virus (if we haven't already). Within 90 days, I fully expect our medical system to overwhelmed—just as Italy's is.
I strongly urge you to prepare for a general quarantine.
Have the supplies (medicines, food, etc.) you need. We need not to panic but to be resolute in doing those things, some of which are listed above, to keep us all as safe as we can.
If you have any questions, please let us know. Thank you.
What to do if you run low on iCloud Storage space
I have no idea how to transition from COVID-19 to any other topic, all of which are so much less important. That said, here it comes: iCloud Storage space!
By default, Apple gives every iCloud user 5 GB of storage space. That is not nearly enough, given how it’s shared between iCloud Mail, iCloud Drive, iCloud Photos, Messages, and iCloud-enabled apps.
Apple will, of course, sell you more iCloud space. $0.99 per month gets you 50 GB, $2.99 per month provides 200 GB, and for $9.99 per month, you can use a whopping 2 TB. The latter two plans can even be shared with others in your Family Sharing group.
As we’ve noted elsewhere, using iCloud Photos almost certainly requires you to pay for extra storage. But if you’re paying $2.99 per month and nudge up against the 200 GB limit, you may not be enthused about increasing your payment to $9.99 per month when you’re unlikely to need anywhere near 2 TB.
That said, you don’t want to run out of storage space. Email to your iCloud email address will be rejected, photos won’t upload from your iPhone, and app data will fail to sync. Happily, Apple alerts you when you’re running low on space, before things get bad.
It’s often easy to recover space that’s not being used in a helpful way. First, check how much space you have and how much you’re using. In macOS 10.14 Mojave, look at the graph at the bottom of System Preferences > iCloud. In 10.15 Catalina, the graph is in System Preferences > Apple ID > iCloud. In iOS, you’ll find a similar graph at Settings > Your Name
Then, to clear space, work through these five approaches.
1. Remove Unnecessary iCloud Device Backups
The biggest win comes from deleting iCloud device backups for devices you no longer use. It’s common for these to stick around, so if you recently upgraded from an iPhone X to an iPhone 11 Pro, the iPhone X backup is probably still consuming gigabytes.
Navigate to Settings > Your Name
> iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups to see what you have. If you find backups for a previous iPhone or iPad, tap it and then tap Delete Backup.
2. Delete Unnecessary Data from iOS Apps
While you’re in the iCloud Storage screen (the leftmost screenshot above), look through the other apps at the top of the list. The Photos app will likely be using the most storage, but all you can do to minimize its space usage is delete unnecessary screenshots, duplicate photos, and accidental videos from Photos. That will likely require lots of manual effort.
However, some other apps—think about third-party camera or video apps—may be using space unnecessarily. Investigate any apps reporting a lot of usage in the iCloud Storage screen, and if possible, clear out the unnecessary data.
Finally, consider Messages. If you regularly trade photos and videos in chats, it could be another place you can save significant space. In the iCloud Storage screen, tap Messages > Top Conversations to see which conversations are the largest. Tap one to switch to Messages, tap the person’s avatar at the top of the conversation, tap the Info button, scroll down to see the photos, and tap See All Photos. Tap Select, tap photos you have no desire to keep within that Messages conversation, and then tap Delete at the bottom-right of the screen.
3. Avoid Backing Up Apps with Massive iCloud Data Stores
If one of your apps is storing a lot of data that you don’t want to delete, but that you don’t care if it were to be lost, you can prevent it from being backed up by iCloud Backup and reduce the size of your backups.
To find such apps, navigate to Settings > Your Name
> iCloud > Manage Storage > Backups and tap the name of the device you’re on. That screen shows which apps consume the most space in your backup. Tap the toggle switch next to an app to stop backing it up and delete its data from your backup.
4. Scan for and Delete Large Files in iCloud Drive
It’s hard to know if you’re likely to be using lots of space in iCloud Drive—it all depends on what iCloud-savvy apps you use and if you store other files in iCloud Drive via the Mac’s Finder or the Files app in iOS.
There’s no need to guess, however, thanks to free Mac apps that help you identify especially large files and folders. Our favorites are GrandPerspective
. GrandPerspective uses a graphical view so you can see at a glance where your space is going, whereas OmniDiskSweeper opts for a classic text-based approach that gives you hard numbers. In GrandPerspective, choose File > Scan Folder and select iCloud Drive in the sidebar of the Open dialog. For OmniDiskSweeper, choose File > Size Folder.
Whichever app you use, it’s easy to select large files or folders and click Delete (GrandPerspective) or Trash (OmniDiskSweeper). You may have to set an option in GrandPerspective > Preferences to enable deletions if its Delete button is disabled.
5. Delete Old Email from iCloud Mail
All the email you store at iCloud counts against your free space, so it can be worth clearing out unwanted old messages (and their large attachments). To delete individual messages using Apple’s Mail, just select them and click the Trash button in the toolbar. Some messages are much bigger than others, however, and to find them, choose View > Sort By > Size. That puts the largest messages at the top.
Of course, deleting messages normally just moves them to the Trash mailbox; to reclaim the space they occupy on iCloud, choose Mailbox > Erase Deleted Items > AccountName. Once you do that, the messages are gone for good.
If you want to remove an entire mailbox and its contents, select it in the sidebar and choose Mailbox > Delete Mailbox. That deletes all of its messages immediately and can’t be undone.
When you put all these space-clearing techniques together, you’ll likely be able to clear enough cruft that you won’t have to pay Apple for more iCloud storage space. But if you’re uncomfortable deleting such data, there’s no shame in upgrading to a larger iCloud storage plan.
macOS 10.14.6 Mojave
. macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra is acceptable. Earlier versions should be upgraded ASAP. You can see your Mac's operating system version by going to the Apple menu in the top left corner of the screen and choosing "About This Mac." Don't even think about macOS 10.15 Catalina yet.
iOS 12.4.1 (or 12.4.2 for some models) acceptable. Any device that can run iOS 11 should be upgraded to 12.4.2 or 13.3. You can see your iPhone or iPad's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version.
iPadOS 12.4.1 (12.4.2 for some models) also acceptable.
. Older versions of WatchOS acceptable if necessary; upgrade if your devices (iPhone and Apple Watch) support it. You can see your Apple Watch's operating system version by going to Settings > General > About > Version.
. tvOS 12 also acceptable. Note that earlier models of Apple TV do not run tvOS and are fine for what they do; not all channels, features, or apps will be available. You can see if there's a software update available for your Apple TV by going to Settings > System > Software Updates > Update Software.
. Off-site backup remains important in mitigating the risk of fire or theft. We use and recommend Backblaze
. At a cost of $6 a month per Mac, Backblaze will encrypt then backup an unlimited amount of data from your Mac. Data has a 30-day retention window, though longer time periods are possible for an additional couple bucks.
Private Internet Access.
A Virtual Private Network (or VPN) creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the VPN company's computers. From there, you surf the internet as you regularly do. Using a VPN means that anyone who might be spying on your at the hotel, Starbucks, etc. won't be able to see what you're doing. All they'll see if encrypted internet traffic. Private Internet Access
(PIA) costs about $75 a year—a cost that covers 5 or 6 devices including Mac, iPhone, and iPad.
- iMac: iMac10,1 (Late 2009) or newer
- Mac mini: Macmini4,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
- Mac Pro: MacPro5,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
- MacBook: MacBook6,1 (Late 2009) or newer
- MacBook Air: MacBookAir3,1 (Late 2010) or newer
- MacBook Pro: MacBookPro7,1 (Mid 2010) or newer
- Note that 2016-2019 MacBook Pro models have a higher than usual keyboard failure rate. Used 2015 models, which use a different style keyboard, may be a more reliable option. The new 2019 MacBook Pro 16" model uses a new keyboard mechanism and should be fine.
These are minimum
hardware recommendations based on what is necessary to run a secure operating system (macOS 10.13.6 High Sierra).
The following are the macOS 10.14 Mojave/10.15 Catalina system requirements. If your Mac does not meet these specifications, it will need to be replaced by fall of 2020, when High Sierra will no longer be secure.
macOS 10.14 Mojave/10.15 Catalina system requirements
- MacBook (Early 2015 or later)
- MacBook Air (Mid-2012 or later)
- MacBook Pro (Mid-2012 or later)
- Mac mini (Late 2012 or later)
- iMac (Late 2012 or later)
- iMac Pro (all models)
- Mac Pro (Late 2013 or newer)
macOS 10.15 Catalina was released in October 2019 and has the same system requirements as Mojave.
iPhone and iPad
- iPhone 6S or newer. Older iPhones cannot run iOS 13.
- iPhone 7 models have a higher than normal failure rate over time. Given the choice, we would recommend iPhone 8 models as a strong alternative to iPhone 7 models.
- iPad Air 2 or newer will be needed for the new iPadOS coming this fall
- iPad mini 4 or newer will be needed for the new iPadOS coming this fall
- iPad Pro (all models)
- iPad 5th generation or newer
The iPad line is made confusing by the multitude of model names and types (Air, mini, Pro, and just plain iPad). Generally speaking, devices introduced in October 2014 and later will run iPadOS. iPads that will not run iPadOS and should be replaced unless they will not be used on the internet.
- Apple Watch Series 5 is highly recommended.
- All versions are secure and acceptable though Apple Watch Series 0 will not run the latest version of WatchOS and therefore lacks both the speed and features of later Apple Watches.
- Apple TV 4K is recommended. Apple TV (4th generation) is fine as well.
- Older models of Apple TV do not support tvOS and cannot run Apple TV Store apps, though we are unaware of any major security issues.