Suggested backup procedures for clean Tiger install

Discussion in 'macOS' started by feakbeak, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. feakbeak macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #1
    First of all, I did search but did not find the specific information I was looking for. After a few very slow searches, I started getting errors with the MR site, so I decided just to post my question(s).

    I have the Mac mini specified in my signature. I have pre-ordered Tiger and it has shipped today. I plan on doing a clean install because I always believe that is best when refreshing an OS. Although I have used Macs in the past OS 8.x, 9.x and now X on my mini I am not an expert with OS X. I know Windows like the back of my hand and dabbling with OS X makes me feel like a noob all over again. It's a little unsettling.

    I wish to start backing up my data in preparation for my clean install of Tiger. I know the obvious things for backing up all of my data files. I have some more specific questions though and wanted to invite any suggestions you may have based on your own personal OS upgrade experiences.

    Is there an easy way in OS X to backup all my user settings? I'm going to go out on a limb here and propose that I might be able to just copy my entire user/home directory off somewhere and copy it back? That would be the intuitive/Apple way of thinking. Could it be that easy, i find it hard to believe.

    Would this preserve my OS settings, IMs, email, photos, music, bookmarks, etc? Is it as easy as copying your home directory back, no reconfiguring your OS settings or application settings?

    I have been storing all my data under the home directory, not elsewhere on the drive. Which is unusual because that is not at all how I do it in Windows... but OS X naturally encourages one to use it that way - very nice.

    When I've migrated OSes with Windows I normally get all my data out of each application and store it off very carefully. Copy my emails here, my IM logs there, my bookmarks here, my music and photo library there... you get the idea. Then, I have manually reconfigure all the settings in my applications because application settings are divided out between text files, INI files, registry settings, etc.

    At any rate, just wondering if a simple copy of my home directory would work. If not, is there an easy way to get all your data and more importantly settings, email, contacts, etc. backed up and reimported?

    If there is no easy way, I will post the specific questions I have about particular applications.

    Thanks in advance for all your help and suggestions.
     
  2. feakbeak thread starter macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #2
    Anyone?

    My copy of Tiger should be arriving tomorrow, it is at my local FedEx sort facility right now.
     
  3. mac-er macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    #3
    You've figured it out....

    Most of your personal information/settings are in your home folder.
    There are a few system preferences in the System/Library/Preferences folder.

    For example, you can verify this by going to your home folder/Library/Mail and you will see your mail folders.

    You can also look in Home folder/Library/Preferences and see all the files that hold your preferences. You can look through there and see what all the prefs are for....dock, finder, your applications, menu bar clock, etc

    Just copy all the folders in your home folder to your iPod (if you have the iPod set in disk mode), a CD/DVD, or whatever...you will have backed it up.

    As long as you been saving documents, music, pictures into your home folder..you should be fine (for example, iTunes and iPhoto should automatically save into your home folder).

    I always play around in my home folder before a clean install to verify my documents, music, photos, etc are there.

    Applications are a little different.

    Most defaults are to save to the Macintosh HD/Applications folder. So if you don't back that up, you'd have to reinstall Applications. But, I usually do that anyways after a clean install just to be sure there are no problems.
    (You can install bundled software, like iLife, that came with your Mini from the OS install CD that came with your computer...so no need to back those up).
     
  4. feakbeak thread starter macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #4
    Thanks for the input mac-er. I was thinking I had the right idea, but was seeking a little validation since this was my first Mac OS reinstall.

    I have an external 40 GB FW drive that I haven't been using. i'll back all my files up on that. I intend to reinstall all the additional apps myself after I get Tiger up. That is my standard procedure with my Windows reinstalls/upgrades as well. I was mostly concerned about the iTunes and iPhoto metadata. I think copying the main music/photo folders from my home directory will work though since it contains the iTunes XML file, etc.

    I will dig around my home directory some more and check out the System/Library/Preferences folder you mentioned. I remember hearing some application preferences are stored there but had forgotten.

    Thanks again for your help.
     
  5. EANx macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2005
    #5
    Hey feakbeak, where did you order Tiger from and how long did it take receive notification of shipment after it went into "preparation" if you ordered from Apple?
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #6
    I don't quite understand what you mean by this. The applications themselves are in /Applications, but almost all prefs files are in either ~/Library or in /Library. The only exception I've run across is Firefox's searchplugins, which are inside the app folder. The reason I don't believe much else (at least among what I use) stores any kind of defaults or settings to the apps folder is that my user account does not have write permissions to the apps folder, but is able to save all those user settings.

    But I guess I just want to say the obvious thing one more time...for feakbeak...I guess its possible that this process will save you from corrupted files in your system folder, but if you copy all the files in the two library folders back over, you're really not doing a very clean install.... It's much more likely that any issues are inside those folders and not the system folder, because those are the folders your account has write access to.
     
  7. mac-er macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    #7
    That's what I do, and I have never had any problems.

    I have never done it but you can use Carbon Copy Cloner to make a clone of your current setup (and put it on your external drive) if you want to be 100% sure you get everything.
     
  8. mac-er macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2003
    #8
    I wasn't talking about the prefs..
    I was talking about the Applications folder in your Home folder, and one in the System folder
     
  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #9
    Ahhhh, gotcha.... :)
     
  10. stcanard macrumors 65816

    stcanard

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #10
    I'm a little late to this thread, but...

    Realistically if you tell Tiger to do an archive and install it will do this for you automatically.

    What happens in an archive and install you ask? Glad you did!

    The installer creates a folder called "Previous Installation" and moves everything into except the Users folder. At this point your harddrive looks like this:

    /
    /Users
    /Previous System.<something>

    Which is the equivalent of having completely wiped your drive. The installer then goes about installing a completely clean version of the OS (which it can since all the OS directories have been removed).

    Once that is done, it will go into /Previous System/Applications and move any applications you have installed into the new /Applications directory, thus effectively reinstalling your applications (remember since applications are just packages, that's all that needs to be done).

    Once this is done, you're left with a clean install of Tiger, and your untouched home directory, which is exactly what you would get out of a wipe, install & restore from backup procedure, with one difference:

    Since the old OS is in /Previous System now, you can mine through it an slowly replace any of the customizations you had. After a couple of months, when you don't need it anymore you just 'rm -rf' it and you have a nice, clean Tiger install.

    I know it goes counter to Windows experience, but you really don't need to wipe the drive to upgrade ... archive & install does it all for you!
     
  11. barrettd macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2003
    Location:
    Oklahoma City
    #11
    Thanks for this explanation. I've never done an A&I, but I think I will on Friday.

     
  12. robelkin macrumors newbie

    robelkin

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Belfast, Northern Ireland
    #12

    So are you saying that if i do this A&I then it will keep all my music, files, pics, movies, docs, etc? the apple site mentions something like this:

    Archive and Install: This option saves your existing system files in a special archive, then installs Tiger. You can choose to automatically import your user information and settings into Tiger so you don’t have to reconfigure your printers, Mail and other applications.
     
  13. stcanard macrumors 65816

    stcanard

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #13
    Yes. As long as you specify to save settings it will not touch under /Users/<yourname>

    Of course it's always good to do a backup before just in case, but Archive & Install should not actually delete anything on the drive, just move all the OS files to a backup location. Basically it will blow away this (looking back to my old Jaguar archived files):

    Applications/ System/ etc@ private/ var@
    Developer/ mach.sym sbin/
    Library/ bin/ mach_kernel usr/

    And leave everything else. It's really quite a neat thing, made possible because all user files are kept in a single hierarchy under /Users
     
  14. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #14
    A quick question about Archive and Install:

    How much HD space do you need to be able to perform an A&I...?

    (I'm on an iBook that's almost out of HD space, really struggeling to keep more than 6 GB free on a 60 GB drive...)
     
  15. stcanard macrumors 65816

    stcanard

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #15
    Aye, there's the rub :)

    It will tell you when you try how much space you need, but IIRC the backup takes ~ 5G so you need at least that much free.

    If you have an external drive, you can do something like move your iTunes folder to the external drive to clear up space, then move it back later. Again, especially if you're moving stuff around it's really a good idea to take a backup!
     
  16. feakbeak thread starter macrumors 6502a

    feakbeak

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2003
    Location:
    Michigan
    #16
    stcanard, thanks for the tip about the Archive & Install option. I'm still a little leary as it sounds like there is more room for problems than wiping the drive. I dunno, nothing gives me that refreshingly clean feeling as much as formatting a drive. It certainly seems to be an interesting upgrade option, I'll try it.

    I'm still going to backup all my data as I'm overdue for a good full backup. If I'm not pleased with the results after my A&I I can always wipe, install and restore. This seems like a great installation feature and certainly worth a try. Thanks again for the tips everyone.
     
  17. stcanard macrumors 65816

    stcanard

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver
    #17
    That's the best way to go. I've written a perl script that does nightly incremental backups and copies them to a shared drive, so I tend to be far more willing to experiment than most. Worst case scenario I wait a couple of hourse while my system untars a few backup files :)
     
  18. SnarkMan macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2005
    #18
    A&I is the way to go

    feakbeak, Archive & Install is what you want. Yes, the clean install may be "better. Likewise the Qtip box also tells you not to put those cotton swabs in your ears, but I do it every day with no trouble, and I bet you do, too. :) Point is, A&I will do fine for 99% of the people. And it's sooooo much easier than a clean install.

    As you said, do a full back up and if A&I doesn't work, you can still do a clean install if you need to. Personally, I've never had any A&I problems through a number of OS X upgrades.
     
  19. Deej macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #19
    Sorry if I'm going over the same thing that's already been discussed here, but I thought I'd ask anyway, just to be absolutely clear :)

    I live in the UK and bought & installed all my apps there, but now I've gone travelling to Australia and left all my install CDs at home - CDs like Office 2004 etc., so I want to ensure that if I do A&I I will still be able to use all these apps? It would seem a bit of a waste of money to go and have to buy another copy of Office just to get my hands on the install cd ;)

    So - will A&I *really* keep all my apps? I'm not too worried about user data / itunes as I can back that up to my ipod...

    Thanks guys - sorry to sound like a dufus...
     
  20. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #20
    On the sole occasion that I used it, all my apps were safely kept (including Office, Photoshop Elements etc).
     
  21. Deej macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    UK
    #21
    Thanks mate :)

    Hope the weather 'back home' is OK at the moment...? Sorry, I digress..

    I'm hoping that the Apple resellers over here will be open at 6pm on Friday so I can get my copy... anybody else on here from Melbourne? If so, where are you getting Tiger from?
     
  22. nagromme macrumors G5

    nagromme

    Joined:
    May 2, 2002
    #22
    Many thanks for the quick explanation! I'm more comfortable trying an A&I now. (But I'll have a full backup beforehand regardless.)
     
  23. Kelmon macrumors 6502a

    Kelmon

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    #23
    In fairness, my background is much the same (Windows for many years and OS X in the last couple) so I tend to go straight for the complete reinstall. I started backing up stuff over the weekend (all the stuff that won't change this week, like my music collection) and will be doing the rest as soon as Tiger arrives. In order to do this I am using Apple's Backup tool that's available with a .Mac subscription since that has automated settings for backing up those files you might not normally think about. I think this is pretty good since I'm using this as an opportunity to clean out all the fluff that has accumulated so I don't want the entire Home directory.

    Something that might be worth mentioning is that you'll want to backup templates and other stuff that some applications create and which might be stored in non-standard locations. While some applications will store user-templates somewhere in the Home folder, others aren't quite as nice. Office 2004 seems to use both the ~/Documents/Microsoft User Data and /Applications/Office 2004/Templates, and Omnigraffle can place templates in the /Library/Application Support/Omnigraffle folder if its templates are going to be available to all users. While these nuances only apply if you have installed these applications, it's probably not a bad idea to think about this sort of thing when you are backing up to ensure that you backup all the necessary locations. Backup does take care of the major things (like you Keychain and Safari bookmarks) but not everything.

    Archive & Install sounds like a reasonable idea but I want to reclaim my disk space and I wonder what effect this has on the pre-binding that is performed by applications during the Optimizing process when they were installed.
     

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