Almost About To "Do It" - A Few Questions

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by oo7ml, Oct 18, 2011.

  1. oo7ml macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    #1
    Hi, i have had to listen to some of friends rant on how "good" Macs are for some time now, and after a lot of research and comparisons i hope to have my first Mac by the weekend.

    Just to point out, i was never an apple hater and currently have the latest iphone and ipad.

    After a lot of research on the web and other forums, i find the main reason people choose a Mac is because "they just work" and from my research, most Mac owners expressed their frustration using Windows because of the registry build up, numerous updates, lengthy boot up times and crashing... etc.

    I have to say, i don't experience any of the above negative points that have been raised about Windows and that is probably down to the set up that i have in place on my system (4 year old Sony Vaio TZ)

    I have my laptop partitioned into 5 drives:

    Hard Drive 1: Operating System and Programs
    Hard Drive 2: My Documents
    Hard Drive 3: Work
    Hard Drive 4: Multimedia (photo, videos, music etc)
    Hard Drive 5: Backup (cloned image of Hard Drive 1)

    Hard Drive 1 set up to perfection with all necessary Programs and tweaks made to the OS etc... and then i have it cloned to a single image file which is stored on Hard Drive 5 (Backup). All program files are then stored on the other drives (2, 3 & 4) and are completely independent of the Operating System and Programs drive, so when i re-fresh / re-install the main OS & Programs drive from the clone i have made, only Hard Drive 1 is re-installed and all of the files on the other hard drives (2, 3 & 4) are uninterrupted...

    Every 4 weeks or so i re-install the clone of the main hard drive (takes about 10 mins) so my laptop is back to perfection and there is no build up of registry files or program files that are not required. My laptop boots up just as quick as the day i bought it (after i removed all of the unnecessary pre-installed programs)

    I know some of you might say "well then stick to Windows" but i am looking forward to changing to a Mac and seeing if it does everything i need it to do and most importantly, more efficiently... time will tell...

    Anyway, getting to my point... i have a few questions that i hope some of you experts might be able to help me with:

    Questions:
    A: how can i manage to keep my mac squeeky clean and speperate files from the OS (like i have done on my Windows setup). Is it possible to create a clone of the OS and Apps when i have it set up to perfection and revert back to that set up from time to time without affecting my document files. Should i partition the hard drive to seperate the OS & Apps from my document files
    B: is the 13" Air screen really that much better than the 13" Pro
    C: will all files that i have created with programs on my windows platform open up on the mac if i have the mac equivalent version of the source program
    D: what is your view on my above windows scenario... do you have anything to add (positive or negative)

    Thanks for reading all of this and a bigger thanks if you manage to contribute to the post, much appreciated...
     
  2. rocknblogger macrumors 68020

    rocknblogger

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #2
    I just got my first Mac in January, a 15" Macbook Pro. I was primarily using a custom built (By myself) Windows7 desktop before that.

    What I found is that using a Mac is a different mindset. I had to change how I thought my computer had to be maintained. As you probably already know there is no registry like the Windows registry on Mac. Therefore when you delete/remove an application there's only two places where you want to make sure the files have been removed from, the library and the applications folder. With that said, there are a number of applications that clean these folders to make sure there are no files left behind. But here's the thing: Even if there are files left behind they don't affect the system the way registry entries left behind do. The stuff that does occasionally gets left behind after you remove an app are small files called .plist that can have app preferences for example.

    To take it a step further. In Windows the preferences get written to the registry. In OSX the preferences are written to an app specific file and OSX "reads" that file to initiate this preferences. If the app is gone OSX ignores that file so in the end all it does is take up some space.

    I used to re-install Windows regularly at least once a year to keep it running smooth. My setup was a bit different than yours in that I had 5 hard drives that help my files (Still do as I still have the computer). When I first got my Macbook I wanted to install some apps to an external drive and I could not. The apps have to install the your internal drive where the OS sits. I can't say whether a partitioned drive would allow you to do that but when I asked an Apple support tech about it he said apps had to be installed to the same drive.

    The one thing that I think Apple got right is Time Machine. With Time Machine as long as you have a complete system backup and allow it to run hourly the way it's meant to run, you can do a clean re-install of the OS. With that said unless you've really done something to totally screw up the system I don't think you'll feel the need to do it. You can also clone your drive and copy it back at a later time if you feel the need. I used Carbon Copy Cloner which works very well.

    I had updated to Lion the day it came out and wasn't initially happy and wanted to revert back to 10.6.7. It worked flawlessly. I must say though that after just 1 week with Lion I couldn't go back to Leopard and instead did a clean install and it's been almost perfect ever since.

    The bottom line is that I've found there's a lot less maintenance and managing I have to do and can just concentrate on the task at hand. I honestly couldn't imagine going back to a Windows PC for full time use. I still use my Windows computer for gaming and I'll switch once in a while for variety and to play around, but all my serious work is done on my Macbook Pro.

    I don't know what size screen your used to but for me personally 13" is just way tiny. I use a 27" LG hooked up to my Macbook via HDMI and when I use the Macbook away from my desk the 15" feels a bit cramped but is usable. I couldn't imagine life on a 13". But thats just me. I will say this. You immediately start appreciating full screen apps when using the Macbook with a single screen. Sometimes I unplug it and use it in other parts of my home because of that.

    Anyway, I'm rambling. Hopefully I've helped you some and I'd be happy to answer anything any other questions you may have. ;):apple:
     
  3. ctucci macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2008
    Location:
    Yer Mom's basement.
    #3
    For question A: I understand isolating files from the Operating system in windows, but I haven't had to worry about it OS X because I've never noticed a buildup of junk that makes it lag. So, I just make sure Time Machine and Carbonite are all humming along.

    B: No idea, haven't had to use one extensively.

    C: In the case of of Office, it does, but if I were you, I'd hit your support links on your most critical apps and ask 'em.

    D: I think you'd be overdoing it trying to replicate your windows scenario under Lion. Keep Time Machine and one other backup method for critical data humming, and simply enjoy the machine.

    If you are moving to macs simply to move to macs, jump right in, the water's fine. But, if you have mission critical business apps, bear in mind the mac equivalents (for me) don't seem to be as fast to use, or as feature robust. However...

    ...simply installing VM tools like Parallels or Fusion takes care of 99.9% of the issues I've encountered, so hang on to your copy of Windows for installing as a VM.
     
  4. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    #4
    Guys, thanks so much for your help, it is much appreciated, excellent help...

    Can you elaborate on how the back up works... if i make a clone of the system when i have it set up with all my apps, then surely when i restore it i will loose any new files on my system... that is why i have the OS separated from my personal files on my windows set up
     
  5. rocknblogger macrumors 68020

    rocknblogger

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #5
    When you use time machine it backs up your entire drive. You van of course choose exclude folders like downloads for example but otherwise time machine can be used to restore your entire setup. Preferences and all.

    If you were to create a clone then of course it would be a snapshot of the system as is at time of cloning. So anything that you may install later or files that come later would be excluded.

    Honestly, time machine is the way to go. I'm anal because in the past I've lost too many important files so I have triplicates of certain files. I use Dropbox and a third external drive just for files.

    The one thing I still want to invest in is the two or three TB time capsule.

    I also forgot to mention earlier that I've been able to open any file I had to. I think there may have been an occasion that in Word some formatting was lost. But for the most part you'll be able to work with files you created in Windows.
     
  6. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    #6
    Ok cool, thanks again for you extended help...

    I understand what you are referring to with the time capsule and time machine... i just like being very organised and i like to be able to revert my OS to a fresh, clean "out of the box" install without it affecting all of my other files...

    As time goes on, surely the mac would slow down performance wise and it would be nice to fresh'n it up again without having to worry about your personal files...
     
  7. daftpunkstu macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2011
    Location:
    Edinburgh
    #7
    because the mac does not have a registry, it doesn't slow down with use (or at least nowhere near the level windows does [​IMG] I used to do a reinstall on my windows pc once every 2 months, I have yet to do it with my imac and it's now 19months old!
     
  8. rocknblogger macrumors 68020

    rocknblogger

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
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    New Jersey
    #8
    I can honestly tell you that there has been no slow down whatsoever, honestly. I know exactly how you feel and your mindset. I'm pretty sure you can I had the same mindset when I was using Windows but you'll see and remember this conversation one day when you realize, "Wow I don't have to re-install the OS anymore". Trust me I'm not what you would call a fandoy, but I have to give credit where credit is due and Mac computers are built right.

    There are certain things you'll probably find odd for a bit or maybe even frustrating, but performance-wise it really can't be beat. The stability too is awesome. All the things I used to do to make sure my Windows PC ran perfectly, I no longer have to do :)

    I think you'll end up enjoy it immensely like me and eventually your mindset will change.
     
  9. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2010
  10. Tumbleweed666, Oct 18, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2011

    Tumbleweed666 macrumors 68000

    Tumbleweed666

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2009
    Location:
    Near London, UK.
    #10
    Mine hasn't after 2 years or so.

    I was a long time PC user, switched 2 years back, almost never tinker with the Mac because I dont need to, whereas with various PC's , whatever they were, a high end custom build , an off the shelf Dell, etc, I was *always* having to mess with something just to keep it running.

    Still use PC's for work, a royal PITA.
     
  11. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

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  12. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a

    AcesHigh87

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2009
    Location:
    New Brunswick, Canada
    #12
    Believe people when they say it won't slow down, it really won't. My macbook was a refurb when I bought it in Early 2009 and was nearly a year old when I bought it. Short of using programs way to intensive for it (why I now have the iMac) it runs just as fast as the day I got it.

    If you want to make everything a bit snappier though check out Onyx. It allows you to run general maintenance tasks that aren't necessary but certainly don't hurt.
     
  13. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2010
    #13
    Ok cool, thanks... sorry to go off topic here but what is the purpose of adding additional desktops (when you slide 3 fingers up on the pad)
     
  14. rocknblogger macrumors 68020

    rocknblogger

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #14
    By creating multiple desktops you are extending you usable real estate. I for example have mail open at all times full screen which actually leaves your current desktop alone. I can then swipe right to get rid of it so I can see my desktop or swipe left when on my desktop to go back to email.

    Then let's say I have my FTP app, a text editor, design tools all open. I can move them all to another desktop if I need to work in photoshop. Then all I need to do is swipe three fingers up to show all desktops and quickly and easily switch back and forth. You can have as many desktops as you need.

    The full screen apps are the ones I really like. Like I said before I have mail and my RSS reader full screen at all times and they're just one or two swipes away.

    Hope that helps and isn't confusing :/
     
  15. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    #15
    Ok cool, thanks for explaining this to me...

    One last question (i hope)... when i shut down the mac, do all the desktops re-load when i turn it back on and are the app shortcuts saved at the bottom of each desktop...
     
  16. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #16
    On your last question, if I'm understanding correctly, then "mostly"; 10.7 will re-open whatever you had open at the time your computer was shut down (or will if you don't uncheck the box to prevent it--some people expect it to boot into a clean slate). Whether they'll open on the correct virtual desktop, however, I think depends on the app. In my admittedly limited testing (I very rarely shut down my MBP), some apps don't, so you need to re-push-around windows after a reboot.

    As for the bottom of the screen, I assume you're talking about the Dock. The Dock is not really like the Windows task bar in that way; it is universal across all desktops, and contains a set of app icons that may or may not be actually running, depending on open/quit state, indicated by a little light under the open ones. Minimized Windows can, depending on setting, either show up as little icons on one side of the Dock, or be invisible unless you invoke Expose for the windows (three-finger-swipe down, by default).

    So yes, the shortcuts (Dock icons) are saved across reboots, but they will always be the same across all desktops. Clicking an open app's icon will move you to the desktop with its windows and bring all its windows to the front. If it is spread across multiple windows, clicking it repeatedly will cycle through the desktops containing its windows.

    Pro tip: The bottom of the screen is the default Dock location, but you have the option of having it on either side of the screen, and from a purely logical standpoint on a widescreen monitor (especially a small one) vertical screen real estate is far more valuable in most apps than horizontal. It therefore makes more sense to have it on the side, which I forced myself to get used to and was happy that I did. I chose right since menu items fill from the left.


    Also, just to chime in, since I maintain a lot of both Windows and Mac machines at work:

    You're talking about shutting down, but that really is rarely something you need to do. Macs enter and exit sleep mode VERY reliably, and have for years, so most Mac users just put their computer to sleep when they're not using it--the power draw is very similar, and wake time is maybe a second or two, depending on configuration. Just closing the lid on a laptop is a completely reliable way to sleep it (opening will auto-wake).

    I, for example, almost never reboot or shut down my laptop unless there's a system update that requires it, and despite waking and sleeping the thing easily a half dozen to a dozen times a day (it's on the living room table), I routinely rack up uptimes of around a month without issue. Eventually RAM management can get a little wonky if the computer has been running for a month and you use a lot of RAM-intensive programs, but again, we're talking after weeks of use, and even then the symptom is just somewhat less free RAM than you'd expect immediately after a reboot.

    Mac laptops, further, write the contents of RAM to the disk when you put them to sleep, so that if they do lose power (due to drained battery) while asleep, it invokes a mode similar to Windows hibernation, and re-loads RAM when power is restored, bringing you right back where you started with no indication except a somewhat slower than usual wake.

    Also, as said, "Windows rot" just isn't that much of an issue on the Mac. If you were constantly installing and removing low-level system modifications it might cause issues down the road eventually, but for the most part OSX is VERY good about keeping app data, user data, and the core OS isolated from each other--thank UNIX tradition for that. There's no registry to get hosed, no DLL hell, and all but a few apps install by just dragging their icon into the Applications folder--everything is contained within the app bundle.

    The only time I really ran into any OSX rot was with a system that I upgraded (not reinstalled, straight upgrade) from 10.0 to 10.1 to 10.2 to 10.3 and switched the same OS install from one machine to a much newer one between 10.2 and 10.3. At that point, I actually saw a few weird glitches, although it was still more or less as fast as you'd expect. I did a clean 10.4 install and migrated my user form 10.3, and all was back to new.


    You can, of course, keep your User folder (your data, that is) separate from the OS volume--there are tutorials all over the web that you can Google up--but frankly it's getting less and less useful to do so, and wasn't necessary from the beginning. The only worthwhile reason I can think of would be if you had a small SSD boot drive and wanted to keep your user data on a larger spinning HD, but that would sort of rob some of the SSD speed; it makes much more sense (and this is what I do with my SSD/HDD equipped MBP) to just store any large files outside your user folder on your separate data drive, and keep the smaller prefs and such in the regular User folder on the SSD where they're fast.


    Recap: Sleep instead of shutting down (just close the lid), reboot at least once a month, and don't really worry about rot unless the computer is actually noticeably acting up. Even defragmentation is mostly handled by the OS on the fly.
     
  17. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2010
    #17
    Wow cool, thanks for your input... starting to love this forum... and still haven't got my macbook yet...

    I think my only worry now is... Do i get a 13" Pro (500gb)or a 13" Air (256gb) and i am in favour of the Air at the moment as the screen resolution and quality is better and i do a lot of design work...
     
  18. hafr macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #18
    The MBA has a better screen and weighs a little bit less.

    The MBP can have an SSD installed, the RAM is upgradeable to 16 GB, it's more powerful than the MBA, plus you have a TP port and an optical drive.

    It's your choice.
     
  19. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a

    AcesHigh87

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    Location:
    New Brunswick, Canada
    #19
    I didn't read that long post explaining it so it might have been mentioned already but you can specify a specific desktop that an app will open in. If you right click the app in the dock, under options you will see "Assign to" and your desktops listed. If you set the app to open in a certain desktop it always will, even after shutting down.
     
  20. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2010
    #20
    Cool, thanks a million...

    The MBA has a TB connection too right...
     
  21. wambo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    Location:
    England
    #21
    Hi, just to clarify you haven't actually got 5 hard drives in your laptop? Rather you have 5 partitions?

    And although you do a backup to your 5th partition if the drive fails you lose everything anyway. Yea its a nice way to setup your machine to keep everything seperate. But when its all on one drive it doesn't make any sense to me. If you had a desktop which had 5 physical hard drives this would be ok. Still OTT imo but that's just me.
     
  22. rocknblogger macrumors 68020

    rocknblogger

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    Apr 2, 2011
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #22
    Yes it does. One thing you may want to consider. MBAs are basically as is and there's nothing that you can upgrade. On the other hand you can extend your RAM or change the hard drive of the MBP. You can even get a kit from OWC to insert a 2nd hard drive/SSD in place of the DVD drive. I'm about to do that also. I have a 240GB SSD and while it's a decent sized drive it's starting to feel a bit constrained.

    There are certain files I like to have with me when I'm out on the road and I find it a pain in the butt to carry around an external drive. Of course that may not make sense for you, just something to think about.
     
  23. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

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    Jan 20, 2010
    #23
    Those 5 partitions are also backed up to 3 separate external hard drives in 3 separate locations...
     
  24. wambo macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    Location:
    England
    #24
    Ah my apolagies, if you put that in your post I completely missed it!

    Anyway, I've had my macbook pro for 2 weeks now and totally love it, you should definately get one. I don't think to much of the MBA though.
     
  25. oo7ml thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2010
    #25
    Yeah, i think i would be fine with the 256gb hard drive or even 128gb for that matter as i have been using the same laptop with a 110gb hard drive for the last 4 years, 12 hours a day without any problem and i have 30gb left... i save most of my music on an external drive...
     

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