PC Doctor September 19, 2014

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Dear PC Doctor:

The date and time on my mac computer keep changing.  They’ll be right one day and wrong the next, despite me fixing it and clicking the little padlock that’s supposed to make it impossible for anyone to make changes.  What’s going on?  How can I make this stop?

       Sincerely, Peter


Dear Peter:

Most Macintosh computers have a battery that provides the continuous power needed to maintain your start up settings.  The battery’s life expectancy is about 5 years.  One of the signals that it might be going is the date and time starting to be wrong.  Is your computer about five years old?  Have you ever replaced the battery?  If your answers are ‘yes’ to the first question and ‘no’ to the second, (and if nothing else is going wrong with your computer), I am going to guess that it might be time for a new battery.

Before you jump in and remove the battery, it would be a good idea to run the Apple Hardware Test (AHT).  Plug in your computer so you can be sure you’ll have power for the whole test.  Unplug everything except your mouse, keyboard, and screen.  If you have OS Lion or later, you’ll need an internet connection.

Here’s what to do:

Press and hold the D key as you start up your computer.  AHT will look at your hardware configuration.  A little picture of some computer hardware may appear on your screen.  When prompted, choose your language.  You’ll get an AHT menu. Choose ‘Test’ to run all the basic tests.  You could also opt to do more testing by choosing ‘Perform extended testing.’ When the process is finished, your test results will appear at the bottom of your screen.  To exit AHT, re-start your computer.

I looked on the mac website to see if replacing the battery is something you can do yourself or if you have to take it to a repair shop.  It turns out, not every mac has a removable battery.  You’ll want to look up your model and make sure yours is removable.  If you attempt to replace the battery on a model for which that is not supported, any resulting damage will not be covered by your warranty.  Also, be careful: parts of the computer get hot when you use them; if you’re going to replace the battery, make sure the computer has been off for at least 10 minutes, to reduce the risk of getting burned.

In most cases, Apple recommends going to an authorized repair shop to replace your computer battery.  I called around to a few places – It should cost somewhere around $125 - $150.  The battery itself can cost about $90 - $150 so, it’s your call what you feel comfortable doing and whether it’s worth it to you to pay someone else to do it.

Until next time… Happy Computing!

       PC Doctor