We've all heard that Macs last longer than PCs, but how long do they actually last?
As with any computer, when you buy a Mac, you don't want to have to buy a new one for a while. The longer it takes, the more value you will get out of it. But how long do Macs actually last? There are a few ways to look at this.
How long will Macs have access to the latest operating system?
Almost every time Apple releases a new version of macOS, some of its older models are cut off. For example, Big Sur won't run on anything older than a 2013 MacBook or iMac. Sometimes Apple supports Macs longer than this: macOS Mojave, for example, came out in 2018 but was available on iMacs in 2009.
Based on the last two versions, you can probably expect around seven years of access to the latest macOS versions. And that assumes you actually want them – there are good reasons to downgrade your macOS version too.
How long will macOS receive security updates?
Of course, you don't need the latest version of macOS to use your Mac. You will still receive security updates for older versions. It's hard to tell how long you'll get them, however, as Apple doesn't have any official guidelines for when a version of macOS is no longer supported.
On the Apple security updates page, it appears that every version of macOS will generally receive security updates for at least three years after it has been replaced. At the time of writing, the last security update for macOS was on February 9, 2021 that supported Mojave, Catalina, and Big Sur.
How long can you get parts and service for a Mac?
If your Mac is out of warranty, you will receive five years of service and parts from the last sale of this product. After that time, you may still be able to get software repairs from Apple. This is in line with Apple's official policy that anything that was discontinued more than seven years ago is considered obsolete.
How long can you download apps for your Mac?
Nothing prevents third-party developers from creating apps for older Macs, but most usually choose a limit in new versions of their software.
This can be made more difficult by Apple's switch to its own M1 processors. Although M1 Macs have Rosetta to run code for Intel Macs, it doesn't work the other way around. When a developer makes their latest version of the app for M1 only, older Macs are left out.
How much longer do Macs actually work?
For example, let's say you're not interested in the latest software or security updates, just want to know how long your Mac has been on. This is really one of those "how long is a piece of string?" Ask. The length of time your Mac keeps running depends on how often you use it, what you use it for, and if there are any accidents along the way.
But if it works, it still works. And if you can get your old Mac running faster, you can easily extend its life beyond what was ever intended.
If you switch to eBay, you'll find tons of fully functional vintage Macs. You can even buy iBooks and classic iMacs that run on PowerPC chips. The last PowerPC Mac was released in 2004, so it's going pretty well.
How long does your Mac last?
Assuming you want your Mac to be usable and secure, you can probably get 10 years or less from it. That's about seven years until the latest macOS versions are no longer available, and then about three more years with security updates.
But that doesn't mean you should keep your Mac that long. If you have the money and your Mac is showing signs of age, consider upgrading whenever you see fit. And since Macs tend to hold their value longer than PCs, you can usually sell your old Mac at a good price to pay for a replacement.
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About the author
(30 articles published)
Anthony has loved technology since childhood, from game consoles and computers to televisions and mobile devices. That passion eventually led to a career in technology journalism, as well as multiple drawers of old cables and adapters that he keeps "just in case".
By Anthony Enticknap
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