WOOF! Newsletter

February 07, 2019

Why and How Macs Increase IT Support Costs

Almost every application you can run on a PC is also available on a Mac. But do they operate the same in business environments? No . . . and that's part of what drives up Mac IT support costs.


With a headline like that, you might think we're going to dump on Macs in this article. No—Apple devices work well for their intended purposes. What we're pointing out is that when used as PC replacements, they can & often do cause unique support issues.

Reality:  On Average, Macs Have More Issues as a Business Machine than PCs

The Mac platform has become much more business friendly in recent years. That said, it still presents challenges on an IT support level.

Why? In general, Apple built Macs more for individual use than business environments. This doesn't mean you can't use Macs in businesses; our customers do so all the time. However, if you want to use a Mac for your work, you need to know some crucial differences.

We asked PlanetMagpie's Support Engineers for the issues they run into on a day-to-day basis supporting Macs in business environments. Here’s what they had to say.


8 Issues with Macs in Business Environments

  1. Networking Problems

    Macs don't cooperate with office networks too well.  We can join them to an existing network, but we can't enforce password policies consistently.  GPOs don't work all the time either—which means managing Macs involves making changes directly on each & every machine.

    Not following GPOs also poses a significant danger: it can interfere with SOX compliance, costing thousands in extra regulatory steps and documentation.

  2. MS Office Headaches

    The Mac version of Office does not work the same as the Windows version. It just doesn't.

    Essentially, Office for Macs is one full version behind Office for Windows. This is even true today, with Microsoft 365 (though it has improved the overall reliability).

    We see more customer frustration on this issue than any other. A user switches from a PC to a Mac, loads Office, and everything is different. The Excel keyboard shortcuts don't work anymore. Outlook crashes routinely.

    "Please fix it!" customers ask us. We do everything we can, but because it's a Mac, we can only troubleshoot so much. The platform IS the problem.

  3. Wi-Fi Connection Bugs (Yes, Bugs!)

    The current Mac OS has a bug that prevents Wi-Fi access at public hotspots. When you try to connect to the hotspot, you get stuck in a sign-in loop or see an error message.

    Workarounds do exist, but this is still a nuisance. A security risk too, since public hotspots can expose you to data theft or malware.

  4. Extra Cybersecurity Steps

    It's no more difficult to secure a Mac than it is a PC; however, the methods differ. You'll need to make more network-level changes (e.g., installing a malware firewall) to effectively protect your Macs.

  5. Messing Up Third-Party Cloud Apps (SAP, Oracle)

    Major cloud services have all sorts of problems when accessed on Macs. 

    For instance, we've logged dozens of issues with SAP from multiple customers over the past 5 years. The problem isn't SAP; it works fine when accessed on a Windows computer. Access it through a Mac – even though it's a cloud service – and you have daily issues performing basic tasks.  Like printing!

  6. QuickBooks Errors

    Every accountant has a QuickBooks horror story.  (Even ours!)  When it comes to Macs, problems with QuickBooks fill a sizable portion of our support ticket database.  Mostly in the form of crashes or data loss.

    What triggers them?  Version incompatibilities. Migrating a QuickBooks PC install to a Mac (and vice versa).  Migration from QuickBooks on a Mac to QuickBooks Online.  Someone sneezed.  Any and all of the above!

  7. Third-Party Backup Disruptions

    This is arguably the most important issue. A third-party backup system requires full-disk access to the machine. Macs will not give this access unless you physically enable it on each computer.

    Even then, we see a higher rate of backup pauses (backup temporarily stops working) on Macs than we do PCs.

    iCloud can serve as a full-disk backup for Macs; it's pre-qualified to do so by Apple. You don't control where the backup lives though, which makes accessing it for restores more complex and a potential security concern.

  8. Platform User-Input Nuances

    A PC mouse can have up to a dozen buttons. The Mac mouse has none.

    Obviously, PCs and Macs operate differently in terms of user input. Different keyboard layouts, mouse configurations, processes for opening applications, how files are stored . . . all of them vary from Mac to PC.

    How does this increase Mac IT support? When you transfer a user from one platform to the other. They'll suddenly have a learning curve on basic computer use, even after years of productive work.


Even Higher Support Costs:  Mac/PC Mixed Environments

We haven’t even touched on the challenges involved in supporting Macs alongside PCs in a mixed environment.  Check out our April 2018 WOOF! article:  Standardize Your IT Environment (and Lower Your TCO) for more information.


Who Should Use a Mac for Business, and Who Should Not

In general, this is what we recommend when a customer asks for a Mac:

  1. If they are a high-level manager, Vice President, or C-Level Executive who prefers Macs, a Mac will work. Viewing reports, using email, basics apps...Macs will do the job.

  2. If they work in Graphic Design, Web Design, or Video Editing, absolutely! Macs have the best software on the market for design work.

  3. If they work in Finance, Operations, or Development, don't use a Mac. These roles require a hardworking computer that runs complex software all day, every day. As we've seen above, a Mac will cause constant headaches & drive up support costs.


Best Advice:  Use a Mac as a Mac

Trying to turn a Mac into a PC will increase your support costs. Please keep this in mind when users need new computers. Of course, if your team prefers Macs anyway, PlanetMagpie will be there to support you.


Have you ever switched from a PC to a Mac on the job? Send us your experiences at woof@planetmagpie.com!