It is better to prevent problems than to try to solve them. Following are three techniques you can employ to minimize the problems you experience:
Maintain your Mac properly and protect it. This will go a long way toward minimizing your problems.
For information about protecting and maintaining your Mac, see Chapter 27, "Maintaining and Protecting Your Mac," p. 773.
Be cautious about upgrades, updaters, and other changes to the system software or applications. Generally, you should wait a period of time after an upgrade is released before putting it on your system. You should always carefully evaluate the benefits of a new version of an application versus the potential for problems that it might introduce. This holds true for updaters and patches as well. If you are not experiencing the problems that are solved by an updater or patch, you might be better off without it.
You should try to keep a log that records the date and time when you do make significant changes to your system, such as adding new software, changing network settings, and so on. Such a log can help you identify possible causes of problems when there is a time lag between when you make a change and when problems occur. Mac OS X's Software Update feature maintains such a log for you automatically. But when you make changes outside of that tool, you will have to record the relevant information manually.
If you support more than one computer, it is a good idea to have a test system on which you can install new software to test for a while before exposing other systems to it.
Make as few changes as possible at one time. There are at least two reasons why you should make changes to your system (such as installing software, making major configuration changes, and so on) incrementally. The first and most important is that making multiple changes at one time can obscure the cause of problems. For example, if you install three or four applications at once and then experience problems, it will be difficult to determine which of the applications you installed is causing the problem. The second reason is that sometimes making multiple changes at once will cause problems for you. When you change something significant, go slowly and take one step at a time. Introduce changes only after you are fairly sure that the changes you previously introduced are working properly.