Macs are like the Energizer bunny; they just keep going and going… Eventually, however, every Mac will need replacing as components wear out with use. Here are four signs to look for that may point towards the need to consider a newer Mac in the near future.
(Note: this applies to Macs that you rely on frequently for work or play. There are many really old Macs that still operate, going back to the original models from 1984. They’re just not very useful for getting productive work done…)
1) Replacement Components Are No Longer Available
I have a colleague who absolutely loved his 1992 Apple PowerBook Duo 230 and — despite the fact that the latest version of the Mac OS it would run was Mac OS 7.6.1 — used the laptop productively into the early 2000s.
The PowerBook Duo 230 (pictured at right) was a slim laptop for its time, and to give it “desktop capabilities” it worked with the Duo Dock, a fancy and rather expensive docking station that would actually pull the laptop into the dock where it could use a CRT display, had a floppy drive, a second hard drive, and even two NuBus slots for expansion. That was the first component that failed after six years of use, but my friend was able to find a replacement.
Sure enough, after another five years the second dock died, and by this time my friend couldn’t find a replacement dock. He tried using the PowerBook Duo as a standalone laptop, but the Duo Dock had truly made the PowerBook Duo a useful computer for him and the loss of it was his impetus to buy a 12-inch Aluminum PowerBook in 2003.
I’ve also heard of situations where users were unable to replace an Apple AC power adapter for an older laptop after one was lost or no longer usable, with that necessary component being the only piece of the laptop that was irreplaceable…
It also may be impossible to find replacement batteries for older laptops.
Finally, if your hard drive has gone out on an older Mac, it may be impossible to replace it as hard drive manufacturers stopped production of those drives years ago. MacSales.com sells drives that work with PowerMac G3 and G4 models that use the IDE/ATA interface, but for older Macs you may very well be out of luck when your hard drive starts sounding the “click of death”.
2) Your Favorite Apps Will No Longer Run On the Old Mac
The next sign that it may be a good time to consider a newer Mac is when an app — either one that you rely on or a favorite game — will no longer run on the old Mac. This can be due to the original media (floppy disk or CD-ROM) no longer being readable on your Mac, the app being out of production by the developer, or just being unable to run on a pre-Intel Mac.
As a longtime Mac blogger, I know that a lot of Mac users loved AppleWorks (see image above), an office suite that became available for Mac in 1991 and lasted until 2004. It’s been replaced by iWork, which is the free combination of Pages, Numbers and Keynote for the Mac. But iWork doesn’t have the high level of integration that AppleWorks did, and there are still some folks who insist on using AppleWorks on vintage Macs.
That app was written in PowerPC code, and it could run on pre-Intel Macs under the “Classic Environment” up to Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. For those who loved AppleWorks and who were running it on legacy Macs that eventually failed, it was time to move to a newer Mac.
3) Your Old Mac Cannot Be Upgraded To Newer Versions of OS X / macOS
As we’ve mentioned many times here at the Rocket Yard, it’s worth updating to the latest versions of macOS for many reasons. Apple continually provides updates that provide better security, new features, and optimized performance in some cases.
If your older Mac is being used to access the Internet and is not able to run a recent version of OS X or macOS, there is a possibility that you’re opening yourself to security risks that have been patched in more up-to-date operating systems. Either take that Mac off the Internet or consider replacing it with a newer model.
4) It’s Broken!
Sometimes it is a mechanical failure that keeps your vintage Mac from being used. This is most
often seen in older Mac laptops, where the hinge that holds the display to the main body of the computer breaks or the cabling that drives the display wears out, making the display flicker or go out completely.
As an example, the 2001 – 2002 Titanium PowerBook G4 (see image at right) was notoriously bad in this respect, with both the hinge and the cable being susceptible to breaking under normal use. In some larger cities, it’s possible to find Mac repair facilities that will scavenge parts from other non-working PowerBooks to fix the display, but this is becoming increasingly more difficult as time goes by.
Replacing That Old Mac
So it’s time to get a newer Mac. If you’re on a budget, consider looking at the certified new and used Macs from MacSales.com. We have Mac minis, iMacs, Mac Pros, MacBooks, MacBook Airs, and MacBook Pros available in various incarnations going back as far as 2009.
For older “collector’s item” Macs, there are still some places out there where one can purchase working vintage Macs or non-working ones that can be scrapped for parts.