As the festive season draws to a close and we start to look forward, not just to a new year but to a new decade, most of us will be making New Year’s resolutions. Typically, these involve eating or drinking less, getting fitter and getting a grip on parts of our life that are running away from us. We know how we want to feel and how we want our lives to be, and we know what we need to do to make it happen.

The same is true of your Mac. After a year, and if you’re honest probably much, much longer of neglect, your Mac can easily become overweight, slow and sluggish. Just like us, this can affect its performance and leave it nowhere near achieving its full potential.

You need to think of your Mac as a pro-football team that needs to be kept fit and lean to compete. As the Carolina Panthers proved, things can slip away very quickly if you take your eyes off the ball. From a 15-1 Super Bowl season in 2015, they slipped to 6-10 last place in the NFC South the following year, and their chances of winning the NFC South this season are non-existent. If you don’t keep a close eye on your Mac, its performance could fade just as fast.

Trim that Fat

Start by tidying your desktop

The first place to start is your desktop. Just like a physical desk, you will work much more effectively and efficiently if it is neat and tidy than if you have documents and files all over the place. If your screen is covered in icons, then it’s time to tidy up. Create some files to store things in and be ruthless in binning the stuff you no longer need.

The same is true of your hard disc. Over time, you can fill even the largest of discs with unnecessary and unwanted junk, and the fuller it gets, the slower your Mac will be. Archive what you think you need to keep in cloud storage or an external drive and chuck away the rest. Take a look at the different software you have installed and see if you really need it all. Like clearing out your wardrobe, if you haven’t needed it in the last twelve months, you probably never will. You should clean up your music library too, deleting duplicate tracks that take up space. Your cleaner, leaner harddrive will thank you for this slim down with vastly improved performance.

Clear the cache

As well as thousands of old and bulky files, your system can also get clogged up with endless junk in the cache. Clearing this can be a worry for the uninformed, but there is plenty of help out there from software such as CleanMyMac, which will delete all the stuff that you can safely lose without binning anything important. This kind of housekeeping software will also highlight old and large files that you might like to consider losing, but don’t worry, it won’t ever delete them without your permission.

Reset your startup

All too often, your mac will be set to reopen with the apps and programs that you had open when you last closed down, even if you are not using them this time around. The more stuff you have open, the slower your machine will be, so change your settings to stop this happening and only open the programs you need. The same can be true with web browsers that open multiple tabs on startup. The more tabs you have open, the more memory you are using and the slower your Mac will run.

Organize regular backups

As Joni Mitchell once sang, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…” and that is so true for anyone who’s machine has died, taking all their files with it. If you wait until your Mac develops a fault, then chances are it will already be too late. That can be bad enough if you lose weeks of work or key business contacts, but these are replaceable. If you lose those precious photos of the children when they were little, then you’ll never get them back.

Cloud storage costs money, but when you are protecting priceless stuff, it is worth every penny. You should also consider subscribing to an automatic back up a system such as Backblaze, which will take care of all your off-site file storage for you without you having to remember to do it. If your machine does die, you can restore everything to your replacement Mac quickly and easily to get you back to work fast.

Update your security

There is a longstanding myth that Macs don’t get malware or viruses, but this is simply not true. While they may not be as vulnerable as Windows machines, they are still vulnerable, and once again, if someone threatens you with a ransomware attack it may already be too late to protect your personal files. To keep your Mac safe, it is vital to not only get good quality anti-virus software but also to subscribe to regular updates to help you keep pace with the threats. By its nature, anti-virus software will always be responsive, putting it one step behind the very latest threats, but at least you will be protected from everything else.

Finally, give it a dust

Last, but not least, you should start the new year with a Mac that is physically clean, as well as technically clean. Dust can collect around the air vents leading to blockages and overheating problems, and you won’t believe the dust and grime that have accumulated on your screen since you last wiped it. And let’s not even talk about the state of your keyboard and the underside of your mouse! Give your Mac a dust and polish, to go with your internal cleanup, and it will feel like a new machine.

Just like your body, if you look after your Mac, it will look after you. With a few simple New Year’s resolutions, you can look forward to a year of top performance from a happy, healthy machine. So give your Mac some love this holiday season and get set for the roaring 20s.