Ask LH: How Do I Stop My Clueless Brother From Ditching His PC For A Mac?

Ask LH: How Do I Stop My Clueless Brother From Ditching His PC For A Mac?

Dear Lifehacker, My older brother is awful with his computers. Whenever they start to slow down or are not working correctly he sees that as a sign that he needs to get a new one. It has reached the stage where he wants to switch his recently purchased Windows 8 laptop for a Mac because he believes they will have less problems.

He loves his computer but just doesn’t want to put in the time to learn the ins and outs of how to take care of it. Is there any way of dealing with this? Thanks, Annoyed Little Brother

Junked PC picture from Shutterstock

Dear ALB,

Our website contains reams of advice on effective PC upkeep — from teasing new life out of creaky old hardware to getting better tech support and myriad overclocking tips.

However, this seems to be more of an attitude problem than a technology one. If your brother doesn’t want to learn about PC maintenance, the problem is never going to go away, no matter how many How To guides you throw at him. While it’s painful to watch a family member needlessly fritter away cash, it’s not really your problem, is it?

Hopefully, he’ll find a machine that matches the way he thinks. In fact, with their vertical integration and reputation for fewer program crashes, a Mac actually might not be a bad way to go. If it stops him from needlessly throwing hardware in the bin, more power to him. (Insert “Macs have less power” joke here.)

If you’re reliant on your brother’s computer, it might be time to stump up some cash for a system of your own. You can find some tips on building a cost-effective PC here and here. Good luck!

See also: 10 Ways To Speed Up Your Slow Technology | How To Speed Up, Clean And Revive Your Windows PC

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • Revoke his administrative powers and set up routine defraggin/cleaning/whatever, security software, etc. depending on exactly how he keeps screwing things up.

    • Yes and no,
      My mum is the same as this, she would rather buy a new laptop that bother fixing it.
      Iv found with my Mum, revoking her permissions is only going to open you up to 24/7 tech support… “Oh i cant install this… whats going on” or “im trying to run or update this and it wont let me!”
      Your better off leaving them with admin permissions unless you want to manually approve most actions for them which can be a pain.

      I like the idea of scheduling tasks but what i love to do is run them in silent mode and forward reports to my email account so i can keep an eye on them and when issues do arise i can generally make required changes before my mum notices.
      Since iv started doing this for my mum, she’s gone from 6-8 laptops a year to 2x…
      With less things popping up when she turns on her computer it gives her the illusion of “oh… its still working great” and provides a much smoother operation…

      Now dont even get me started on phones hahaha.

        • more money than sense, now that she is used to using an SSD, if it doesnt boot in 15 seconds or less then it goes to the scrappers lol
          But she leads a pretty physical lifestyle so some of those 6-8 are often collateral damage
          (damn horse people lol)

          • (damn horse people lol)
            I now see where your problem is, and why you’re going through so many laptops – centaurs are terrible touch typists.

        • Now she’s only down to 2 per year?

          Even that is pretty extreme for most people I think.

      • If you’re mum is going through 6-8 laptops a year she is doing something very wrong.

        • This; exactly this.

          As a recent convert to using a Mac; for general browsing etc, I don’t think they can be beat. The hardware is fantastic and MacOS is a piece of the proverbial piss to operate.
          (for those who are more techie, sure, run Win8 on it if you will but there is less and less wrong with MacOS than you may think)

    • I’m sorry. As a Mac user, I need to ask:

      What is this “defragging” of which you speak?
      Security software?

  • Just refuse to offer any further tech support. I know that’d stop my dad. 🙂

    • “Sorry but we don’t support Mac. You’ll need to go and speak to a genius” – that would be my line, dripping with sarcasm.

  • Let him buy one, he will be the happiest sheep in the herd. He will never get a virus (lol), he will pick up heaps of chicks, if he grows a beard he can be a hipster and overall he will never have to bother you for tech support again…

  • Assuming your brother’s a grown adult, let him waste his money if he refuses to listen to reason.

  • How long has he been using a PC…? Cos if he’s never used a Mac, he may be very unhappy until he gets used to it, and that could take a long time… Besides all that though, if what you say about his attitude to tech like a PC is true, then he’s never going to be happy until they bring out a quantum PC you can talk to. Give it Five maybe ten years… 🙂

  • Ugh I know your pain, but in reverse actually. My brother had a brand new MacBook Air (half decent little thing I might add) and raved about how he loved it, worked wonders. Then, after we had a fight about his inability to remember passwords he sold the near $1500 MacBook for $500 on eBay and bought the first POS Windows 8.1 HP monster laptop he was told to buy, from a Harvey Norman sales rep…

    Long story short he walked away with a laptop with 2 graphics cards, 16GB of RAM, a Quad core AMD APU and 3 seconds of battery life. And of course now that his shite box doesn’t work he’s begging for help…

      • Basically I couldn’t set up his email for him on his MacBook because he forgot the password (his password manager is an old bill in a notebook) and for some ungodly reason he still uses a Netspace email (and pays iiNet a hefty $20 a month just for that email address) and refuses to use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Internode (his current ISP) or anything else.

        So I said I would call iiNet during the week to sort it out and that he needed to sort out his method of storing passwords. He got shitty with me over that and when he couldn’t play a DVD on the MacBook (no DVD drive, which I told him about…) instead of doing the sensible thing and asking for help or buying a $30 USB external optical drive, he dumped the Mac and got shafted in Harvey Norman.

        To this day I have refreshed Windows on that POS 4 times for him and every time I go through the same shit of finding out his email password.

  • My grandparents neighbours keep trying to convince them to get a mac, when they ask me why they shouldn’t get a mac, I just tell them I only support PC’s. The idea of losing free grandchild tech support scares them back to PC :p.

    Hard enough keeping up with the random things they break with a system I know, let alone a system I don’t, and I’d rather visit family when I head over than spend the whole time on their computer.

    I used to have logmein on their PC, but it was more trouble than it was worth. They came to expect I could fix anything whenever they wanted, so logmein going pay only was a blessing in disguise.

    • You should really explain in simplests terms the pros and cons of both

      for some people they dont use the computer for much other than to surf the net or skype
      So a mac is fine

      But if you really care, you should just set up the computer for them and create a set of step by step instructions on how to do stuff and put shortcut icons of only what they need on the desktop and revoke admin access

      and schedule auto defragging/antivirus scanning etc

      then install teamviewer.

      i did this for all my relatives. Have the odd tech support issue now and then. but its like 1 service call a year vs once a week

      Its a bit of effort upfront, but theyre family. so its a win win for everyone long term

      Plus i get to skype with close family over great distances, those moments make up for it and the family overall saves everyone money too cause theyre not buying macs

      • It wasn’t so bad before they moved house, but now they have incredibly poor internet (terrible ADSL) which makes connections difficult, and is usually the cause of their issues (emails not syncing, etc).

  • If you’re trying to prevent him from getting a mac because it’s a mac, then you’re wasting your time imo. His money, and secondly, nothing wrong with them contrary to what most people believe. Gorgeous pieces of computing machinery and this is coming from somehow who has never owned on. If you’re trying to prevent him from throwing a not broken computer but merely needs some care, then that’s a different matter.

  • Had a Macbook Pro (second hand mind you!), never got a virus, performance never wained, never got a problem, didn’t really do much on it though… just web browsing / downloading / movies / photoshop. And it was perfect with great battery life. I upgraded to get a touch screen convertable toshiba windows 8 pc, and … well… there have been issues.

    I’d suggest that if it’s just facebook / web browsing / movies, then *maybe* a mac is harder to user-screw up.

    I had a cousin who constantly had problems with his (several) windows laptops, and I hated supporting him. Once advised him to get a mac (partially as a joke and partially so I could say “sorry, I don’t do mac”). He’s not required any help from me in set-up or ongoing maintenance.

    So… go Mac!

  • Frankly, if it is his money, let him buy what he wants.

    If you don’t want to support a mac, just point him to macrumors forums or somewhere like it to get his support.

    At the end of the day, if he gets a mac and finds it doesn’t suit his needs, you will be able to tell him the classic line of “Told ya so” if he loves it, good for him, he found something he likes.

  • Macs are good for people with little knowledge of computers.

    Because ignorance is bliss.

      • – Quite the opposite.

        The only mac users here should be the ones downvoting me.

        • Im not a Mac user and i think your comment is just foolish, at the end of the day no 1 device is superior, it comes down to user preference and that has no bearing on their intelligence level, skills, understanding or Ignorance level
          From a CCIE point of view, Macs run my applications just as good as my PC, i just use PC because its what im familiar and comfortable with

      • Actually, I think he’s right. If I had to choose whether to recommend a Mac or Windows machine to someone who hadn’t used a computer before, or had virtually no computer experience, I would recommend a Mac in an instant.

        For someone with more experience, I’d recommend they get whatever they are more familiar with.

        Note: not necessarily right about the ‘ignorance is bliss’ thing. I’m not even sure what he means by that.

        • I meant it in a light-hearted poke at “mac users are ignorant to learn the backends of computing but it seems to work for them” kind of way. 🙂

          • Makes sense =)

            On a more serious note related to your jest:
            As someone who does work in UX, I think any system that can actually do what people need without them needing to know the innards is great (for people who just want to do what they need to do). If that means limiting the capabilities of devices so that things can’t bog them down then that can be a win.
            Also you’d be surprised how many developers and sysadmins use Macs because they already know the underlying BSD structure pretty well.

  • Considering Macs are designed with the general consumer who has no tech knowledge in mind (and just happen to have an amazing platform for tech enthusiasts who know what they are doing too) then I would say it’s not a bad idea at all.

    You can either take it as an opportunity to learn about OSX and Macs and how they work, using his hardware. OR
    Refer him straight to Apple who will do all the hard work of teaching him how to use it.

  • Yeah, I don’t see a problem at all. If that’s what he wants then it’s less problems for the little brother. Big brother can go to an Apple shop to get his tech fixed.

  • “How Do I Stop My Clueless Brother From Ditching His PC For A Mac?”
    step1 : punch him right in the head!
    step 2: there is no step 2…

  • In my opinion, Macs are fine for

    People who don’t like tweaking/customising their computer
    People who don’t play games
    Graphics/Media work
    Office work
    Mac development and cross platform development.
    People who love iPhone and iPad and AppleTV (fans basically)

    They are not good for

    People who love tweaking their computer.
    Like control over their media (ie people who don’t like iTunes)
    Windows development (obviously)
    People who enjoy using a variety of brands of technology together.

    For this reason your brother may be better off getting a Mac.
    I personally like games, customisation, hate the concept of iTunes, and use a variety of brands of technology and for this reason I find Windows works better for these requirements.

    • I agree with everything you say except for the control of your media bit, who says you have to use iTunes on a Mac? Literally nothing is stopping you from managing it in XBMC, Plex or just normal files and folders.

      • You don’t have to use iTunes but the alternatives are not nearly as diverse (or as good, in my opinion) as on Windows.
        I personally use Crossover Office to run Foobar2000 on my Mac because it is the only player I am happy with after trying a great many.

      • Oops. You’re right. I was confusing the topic with Apple devices in general which is not quite relevant.

        Like if you buy an iphone or ipad, you generally have to manage them through iTunes don’t you? apps, music video etc. ? I’m aware there are work arounds but personally, I just want to drag and drop. I think this is why I added it to the list. The whole Apple philosophy is It just works (providing you do it their way), everything iSomething. That tight hardware software stack has its advantages, but also restrictive at the same time. If you go Apple Mac, you’ll be lured to go Apple everything, and from then on, you can’t avoid iTunes.

        When I used my mac yes, I tried iTunes, didn’t like it, and then used XBMC. So I stand corrected. My iTunes dislike affected my original post.

  • Take his machine, format it, paint it red, and return it.
    Unless the computer is >4 years old or had poor specs in the first place, that should fix pretty much everything. He’s going to have to start from scratch if he gets a Mac anyway.

    • Green if he wants to save power and Blue to keep it cool, that’s why people get white computers, cause it’s all 3 in one.

      • Is that why most office machines these days are black? The are slow, inefficient, and boring?

  • Ask him if he will let you take it and set it up like new again. If he says no then he obviously has too much money and can spend it on whatever he likes. If he lets you then back it up, reload it, and set up automatic maintenance scripts.
    Have it run virus scans on a regular basis, defrag once every now and again, check for spyware, etc. This can all be set up to happen automatically. Once it’s all set up then he shouldn’t have to worry about maintenance. That’s the great thing with IT, unlike most other things it can actually be set up to maintain itself. Then all that’s left is blowing out any dust in the fans if it collects a lot (for most people by the time this is an issue it will actually be approaching replacement time).

  • My soon to be ex-boss has a similar attitude, doesn’t want to learn the ins and outs, but it gets worse from there. I’d always end up fixing it for him until he breaks it again. He never pays me for it either. Now recently I stopped doing it and told him maybe it is time for a mac or a new system you can handle. However hes too cheap for that, and now has an almost inoperable pc he uses on a daily basis, and he loves it!!

  • Some serious Mac hatred going on ITT.
    (ok, ok, the thread title kinda sets it all up, but seriously, Mac’s aren’t /that/ expensive these days, and as a hardware platform, they’re among the best. [talking from experience in intel-based Macs])

  • If he has that much money to spare: GET BOTH.
    Seriously – the best way to see what works for you [or your brother] is to compare doing the same task, on the different systems. Make sure you compare browser functions:

    Like Firefox, but hate Safari? Install Firefox on OSX, sync the favorites, run them side by side.
    I find right-click menus poorly implemented on some OSX ports. I also find a rolling mouse scroll wheel easier than rubbing my finger up/down the centre of the solid state mouse [friction = annoying long term].

    Other than that, there’s not as much difference as some people make out.

  • Making mistakes is an essential part of becoming an experienced intelligent sceptical human.

    Blowing a couple of grand on a crappy laptop which has been marketed well is a small mistake which is likely to teach several important lessons.

    Assuming you’ve given your brother all the appropriate advice, and it has been ignored, let your brother make this mistake.

  • I’ve stopped supporting my friend’s cheap POS.
    At work we just blow away faulty installations but friends don’t have an SOE (now there’s an idea)
    They want everything to be the same when you finished with it and not just blown away so it can take all day to fix everything.

  • Let him get the Mac – his worries and yours will be over – you won’t need to ‘support’ him because it all works so much better. I’m an IT tech for a national charity and deal with shitty Windows laptops, desktops and servers every day. Admittedly I wouldn’t have a job if Windows wasn’t so mind-bogglingly awful, but why not just free him from the Microsoft nightmare and guide him to a good Mac purchase. The closest I get to Windows in this entirely Apple household is when I need to RDP into one of the monstrosities at work because it’s gone tits up. Again.

  • i see a win-win here. He has cash to spend, so he will recycle his computers fast. Convince him to give it to you 🙂

    also, if he’s going Mac i agree that it’s relatively less tricky to setup, use maintain etc. Key point here is not to offer tech support – let him go to genius bars to resolve issues. so less tech headaches for you too.

    I generally find that tech challenged people do not like to take advise/answers from relatives but are happy to follow whatever the tech support they pay advises. It’s like that ask your opinion, then go and do the complete opposite.

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