Are Old Macs Still Safe To Use?

Mac Backwards Compatibility

The recent release of Ventura was a bit of a mixed bag for some. Apple have always seemed to view backwards compatibility as a thorn in the side of their innovation. They don’t seem to like it and put little emphasis on it in real terms. When it comes to operating systems and backwards compatibility, Windows really is the undisputed heavyweight. I have 20 year old applications that still run fine on Windows 10.

Personally, I think this is one of the main reasons OSX / MacOS will never be a dominant force for business.

Even given this poor support for backwards compatibility this new version of MacOS – Ventura – really has upped this disregard. Some machines that were still on sale as late as 2019 have been dropped as supported machines. That’s taking it to the extreme in my opinion. I would be extraordinarily annoyed if I’d just splashed thousands on a machine that the manufacturer dropped a short 2 or 3 years later.

Security Concerns

That said, their hardware generally lasts longer for users than cheaper Windows or Linux machines, I’m thinking laptops here primarily. Which given the software support rot is quite a ridiculous scenario.

Apple have put themselves in the same place Microsoft was with Internet Explorer. Safari has become the new IE for developers. It’s often late to support features or decides to not support them at all. Which just makes a web developers life harder.

But the main issue here is the version of Safari is tied to the OS. Meaning once an OS version is considered legacy it doesn’t get as many updates and will probably only receive patches in extreme situations. Security rot starts to seep in.

Should You Continue To Old Macs?

Mac security is definitely a concern for me. It is less true now than it was that a Mac is “safe” and “secure” simply because it’s a Mac. There has been a rise in viruses that target Macs, that is undeniable. But it is also true that they benefit from having Unix DNA within the OS. Certain common vectors for spreading viruses are rendered either obsolete or are just a bit harder to exploit. But that doesn’t equate to absolutely “safe” and “secure”.

If you are still using an old Mac with an old OS you’re also using an old browser.

My advice would be to definitely use some virus scanning software, such as https://www.malwarebytes.com/mac and use a browser that is still getting updated, such as Firefox or Chrome.

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