Mac 911: Can you replace an Airport Extreme fan? What you get when you export Calendar and Reminders in macos
Solutions to your most vexing Mac problems.
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH AN INTERNAL SSD MODULE FROM A VINTAGE MAC
In 2010, Apple started to release Macs with solid-state drives (SSDS) that used a socket and—with varying amounts of effort—could be removed and upgraded by the owner or by an Apple or third-party technician.
But starting in 2016, nearly every Mac released has the SSD soldered directly to the motherboard. The imac is a notable exception, but see the note at the end of this section.
If you have a Mac of the proper vintage, it can be from vanishingly easy to exceedingly difficult to get the “blade”style SSD out of the Mac and replace it with a higher-capacity model. These blades plug into a slot, something like RAM but with a narrower connector. Apple developed multiple, proprietary connectors ( go.macworld.com/prcn) across
its use of blade SSDS. In my wife’s recently purchased 2014 Macbook Pro, nothing is easily serviceable except for the SSD, which is a cinch to access, remove, and replace.
But what to do with the SSD you removed? If it’s 256GB or greater, it seems a shame to waste it, and it’s hard to sell lower-capacity drives to a Mac user with a compatible computer, as most people who want an SSD are upgrading from a lower capacity already.
Put it in an external case
You could purchase an external case from Other World Computing, which offers USB-3 enclosures compatible with Apple drives. Make sure and figure out the right model to buy based on the particular type of SSD blade that came out of your Mac. The Envoy Pro ( go.macworld.com/evpr) is the most likely match, as it supports drives shipped with Macs from 2013 to present. But there are three other Envoy and Envoy Pro models ( go.macworld.com/3evp) for earlier generations of Mac and drive.
The price may be a snag. At $100, the Envoy Pro for 2013 and later blade SSDS makes little sense for up to a 500GB drive, as you can purchase a 500GB SSD in a USB 3.0 or 3.1 external enclosure new for about $100. For a 1TB drive, it makes much more sense, but it’s unlikely many of you are upgrading from 1TB to 2TB, and the 1TB blade SSD has a lot more resale value to owners of compatible models.
For somewhat older Macs, the OWC enclosure can be just $50, making it a more cost-effective arrangement for a 500GB drive, but likely not for lower capacities. (OWC’S enclosures make much more financial sense as part of their kit upgrade bundles that come with a highercapacity SSD.)
You should also run the SSD through Drivedx ( go.macworld.com/drdx), which will give you a sense of the remaining lifespan: SSDS eventually wear out, and it doesn’t make sense to buy an enclosure if the drive doesn’t have much time left on it.
A note on imacs
If you own a more recent imac, you might be tempted to upgrade its SSD, but I’d suggest you carefully review the ifixit guide first ( go.macworld.com/ifxg). I recently was at a repair shop and talked to a technician who had just disassembled and reassembled a modern imac. They told me they’d hoped to never do so again: the risk of damaging the computer was so huge due to fragile cables and the process of separating the display that it was hard to take in such jobs. If Apple takes an imac in for repair and hits a snag that makes it unusable, they can simply swap in a new computer for you from their stock. Not so for third parties—or you!
CAN YOU REPLACE A FAN IN APPLE’S AIRPORT EXTREME?
A mysterious whirring and grinding noise from his late-model Airport Extreme Base Station disturbed one Macworld reader. Why would it make such a sound? He hadn’t turned it on for a year, but was about to reactivate it with a new broadband connection.
My reply: The polite verbal equivalent of a shrug, because—i wrote—there’s no fan in an Airport Express, and only a Time Capsule has a hard drive. Time Capsule drives certainly fail, like any spinning storage media, but the grinding described would surely have meant the drive was on its way to failure, if not already destroyed.
But your faithful Mac 911 columnist failed to do his research. I own a newer Airport Extreme—one of the “crackerbox” models that looks like a gleaming white micro-tower. It’s never made a peep. I even thought I’d even looked at pictures of the insides of this version from Apple’s now-discontinued series of routers.
My correspondent was persistent, though, and he sent me a recording of the Airport Extreme making a loud and ugly noise. And sure enough, when I dug into ifixit to see their disassembly of the model, there’s a fan! Apparently, in my
setup, the base station has never heated up enough to activate the fan or it’s remained whisper silent despite a lack of, ahem, dusting on my part.
Replacing the fan is somewhat elaborate ( go.macworld.com/a152), and an Applebranded or -certified fan replacement part isn’t available directly from suppliers. But it can be done. Compatible fans can be found on Amazon ( go.macworld.com/lisn) and ebay.
There’s one potential for people who purchased an Airport Extreme at just the right moment, however. If you bought an Airport Extreme and then within two years purchase a Mac of any model and bought the Applecare extended warranty from Apple ( go.macworld.com/acpl), you gain up to five years of warranty coverage for your Wi-fi base station (two years, then a Mac purchase, then three years). It’s worth checking your purchase dates to see if you qualify.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE MAC APP STORE WON’T ASSIGN APPLICATIONS TO YOUR ACCOUNT
The Mac App Store sometimes throws out odd errors when you try to download and install software, errors that lack information on Apple’s support pages. These seem to come up most often with Apple’s own software, especially the five free apps (Garageband, imovie, Keynote, Numbers, and Pages) that require an Apple ID, but no prior purchase.
Just a few weeks ago, I explained how to solve “Update Unavailable with This Apple ID,” ( go.macworld.com/upun) but that’s not the only one.
Another one that comes up with little help is, “Could not assign applications to your account.” Here are four ways that may resolve the problem and let you download the apps you’re attempting to.
> Sign out of your itunes account (Account → Sign Out) and then sign back in. > Sign out, quit or restart your Mac,
then sign back in.
> Update your itunes payment method in Account → View My Account.
> Contact Apple directly ( go.macworld. com/ctsp), and a support person may provide you with a download code to redeem, according to some forum posters.
A number of people report that despite having no payment errors they were able to clear the error by confirming their payment method (usually by re-entering information), updating it, or changing it. Others discovered that Apple had been unable to charge their listed payment method, but they hadn’t received a notification about it. Clearing up that charge solved the download issues as well.
WHAT YOU GET WHEN YOU EXPORT CALENDAR AND REMINDERS IN MACOS, AND HOW TO USE THOSE FILES
The Calendar and Reminders apps in macos let you create backups through an export option. In Calendar, you can select File → Export → Export or Export → Calendar Archive. Reminders lets you select File → Export. The exported files can used for recovery or imported into other apps and systems.
What’s the difference between these options, and why select one over another? All the options produce some variation on an ICS file, a standard calendar format supported by Apple, Google, and
Microsoft, among others.
> The export in Reminders produces a single ICS file that contains all to-do items you’ve ever set and never deleted when complete, as well as all active items.
> Select a particular calendar in the Calendar’s left sidebar and then choose File →; Export → Export and an ICS file containing all that calendar’s associated events will be exported, past and future. This file doesn’t include reminders that are associated with that calendar, however.
> Choose File → Export → Calendar Archive, and the Calendar app produces an ICBU file. This is a macos package (a folder that acts like a file) that contains the entire structure of all calendars and their events as well as all reminders, all in ICS format. Apple highlights that by naming the export “Calendars and Reminders” plus the current date and time.
Because the underlying calendar and reminders files get backed up by Time Machine and drive cloning (if not third-party cloud backup software, which can vary), there’s typically no good reason in modern times to back up the data. But it’s a useful interchange format if you’re changing calendar software (from Apple to Microsoft) or setting up a new system in some very clean way in which you don’t want to sync from an old account. ■
Apple has used a variety of blade-style SSD connectors.
A compatible Airport Extreme replacement fan as seen on an online retailer.
The splayed out contents of the ICBU package file, which is full of folders of ICS files.
Create backups of Calendar by choosing File → Export → Export or File → Export → Calendar Archive.