Mac question(s) again.

I’ll need the answers in small, simple words. :slight_smile:

First, what are permissions? How often should they be corrected? Why do the go bad? Is there anything I should or shouldn’t be doing to keep them healthy?

Second, are there viruses/spyware I need to, realisticly, be worried about? Do the on-line games I play put my toys at risk? I play mostly at Pogo and Game House. Both have been around a while.
The reason I’m asking, is today my internet access has been wonky. Pages that are usually fast, hang up. Safari quit a few minutes ago.

Safari is 2.0.4 OS is 10.4.10


Permissions are characteristocs of a file or folder that determine what you are allowed to do to them. So for instance DI (Delete Inhibit) lets you read or modify a file but not delete it. They should never need correction (what ever you mean by that); they may need to be manually changed if inappropriate. They are only really useful on networks or multi-user machines.

Viruses, worms and trojans, not really. Spyware you might possibly, essentially anything that can take over or affect your browser is a risk no matter what your platform. Not using IE is a great start.

The most likely suspect for your wonky internet access is your internet access. Have you talked to your ISP?

“Permissions” are a slightly-exposed part of the underlying Unix operating system. They determine who can read, write, execute, or delete (these four are independent) a given file. They’re largely meaningless in the Mac world (although you can see them in the Get Info window), but there are lots and lots of system files that get modified constantly, and occasionally their permissions get messed up. You can repair them using Disk Utility. You don’t need to do this routinely; even if they’re messed up it’s usually no big deal. Repairing permissions is one of those time-killing steps Tech Support likes to have you do now and then while they figure out what the real problem is. (Kidding aside, this sometimes fixes issues, but not often). Repair them when you’re experiencing “weird” problems, or every couple of months if you like the peace of mind it brings you (I do it about once a year, just because I happen to be in Disk Utility and thing “gosh, haven’t clicked that button in a while.”)

There are effectively no Mac viruses “in the wild,” no matter what you’d think by reading the news. But you can pass on Windows viruses by mail – they won’t infect you, but they can move on to other systems. A little caution will solve this. Some Microsoft Office Macro viruses can also propagate via the Mac, but those aren’t very common any more. Don’t worry about sites you visit infecting you (it’s a pretty remote possibility), but DO worry about things like “phishing” sites that pretend to be something they’re not in order to elicit information from you. These usually come in the form of emails telling you that your bank needs you to update security information, and go to this web site…

The occasional terminating application isn’t cause for worry; Safari seems to be a common culprit here, in any case. It is possible to get the TCP/IP stack (the software that underlies your Mac’s connection to the Internet) confused, but a reboot will fix it right up. Internet access problems are only rarely the computer’s fault, though - especially when normally-working systems stop. They’re usually transient, and will go away in a few hours or a day or so.

Macs are not completely immune to malware, but they’re so close that unless you’re actively trying to get yourself compromised, it’s pretty tough.

This is generally inaccurate in the Mac case. On a Mac, you’d rarely manually change a permission (probably never for most users), all Mac systems are multi-user machines (and most are on networks), the permissions can get messed up even for single-physical-user computers, and you do occasionally need to repair them (via Disk Utility:Repair Permissions button).

Permissions are a moderately complex artifact of Unix, and therefore the MacOS goes to great lengths to simplify and hide them–but they’re still there. Like much of Unix, you can live a long and happy Mac computing life not knowing much more about them.

I was told it’s a good idea to repair permissions after installing new software, so I do. Assuming this is correct, somebody else will have to tell you why.

TimeWinder, thank you very much. Your explanation was quite clear, even for a silly old woman, like me. :smiley:

I’m very careful with my e-mail, in fact I only get one or two spams a week on my public mail. I’ve never had an unsolicited e-mail on my G-mail account.

I just (yesterday) fixed a non-printing problem on a client’s Mac by running Repair Permissions, so yes, it can help fix inexplicable problems.

Every once in a while I have to fix permissions on my wife’s machine. I should just add it to the crontab but I never seem to get to it.

Don’t forget that back in 10.3 or 10.4 ACL’s (access control lists) were also added to the Mac OS, but aside from Mac OS X Server I don’t believe there’s an OEM GUI for these.

I didn’t say you had to do it manually frequently, just that if you did have to do it, it would be a manual process. I know all Macs are multi-user capable, I meant Macs which are actually used by separate people who have different profiles - most are single-user in the sense that they are only ever used by one person. I contest that most Macs are on networks, but I doubt there is any way of proving it either way - in any case I’m confident the OP is not.

I’ve never seen a Mac problem that needed a permissions fix, but others here obviously have. I just doubt that it’s a routine process that constantly needs running.