bit scared of doing a clean reinstall - how do I not mess it up?

jojoba

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Dec 9, 2011
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I feel my Air has gotten a bit 'buggy' lately and I'm thinking of doing a clean install. However, I've never done this before and I'm a bit scared :eek: how do I make sure I don't mess it up? I back up regularly using Time Machine and SuperDuper, both back up to the same, partitioned external hard drive. I have a lot of my research work on my Air so if I mess this up I will feel suicidal.
 

maflynn

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May 3, 2009
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Well for the step is to make sure you have a backup of your system. I'd not attempt any such actions until there's a backup.
 

jojoba

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Dec 9, 2011
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So, basically, as long as it's properly backed up, it can't go wrong. Is that right?
 

Mrbobb

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Aug 27, 2012
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Have u ever attempted a TM restore? How organized are your search data, are they just spread over a few folders?

If I were doing this for the first time, I would manually copy my important data to another external drive just in case the TM backup was not done properly, but that's just me.
 

marvin4653

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Jun 11, 2012
109
5
I use the same backup method (TM and SuperDuper to separate partitions on the same external), and I've wiped my drive a couple of times. My only precaution is to first ensure that the SuperDuper backup is working properly:

With your external drive connected to your Air, you can browse to the SuperDuper partition and verify that it contains a mirror image of your hard drive. I also like to verify that the SuperDuper partition is bootable. With the external drive plugged in you can restart your Air, hold down the option key before (or just as) the computer reaches the grey screen, and when presented with a choice of drives from which to boot, choose your SuperDuper partition. When the computer starts, it will be running from that partition and you can verify that there aren't any operational problems (make sure TM doesn't try to start backing up while running from the SuperDuper partition--if I recall correctly that can corrupt your existing TM backup).
 

Saturn1217

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Apr 28, 2008
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have a bootable backup

depending on how complex your system is I would strongly suggest having a bootable backup if you want to do a clean install (and you are scared to do so).

I just did a clean install of ML on my MBP. I installed everything from scratch and I definitely had situations where I needed to boot back into my old operating system to export data (think bookmarks, itunes playlists, virtual machines) from my old system. If you forget any of these before you clean install it is kind of nice to be able to boot into the old system.

Just something to keep in mind.
 

Agent-P

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Dec 5, 2009
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depending on how complex your system is I would strongly suggest having a bootable backup if you want to do a clean install (and you are scared to do so).

I just did a clean install of ML on my MBP. I installed everything from scratch and I definitely had situations where I needed to boot back into my old operating system to export data (think bookmarks, itunes playlists, virtual machines) from my old system. If you forget any of these before you clean install it is kind of nice to be able to boot into the old system.

Just something to keep in mind.
That's a pretty good idea. I can't believe I never thought of that. By using something like Carbon Copy Cloner to have my old system boot up from an external drive, I wouldn't have to worry about forgetting to back something up or transfer it to my new setup. Sure the cloning the drive might take a while, but it will be worth it if half way through setting up my clean install system I remember I needed something from my old setup.
 

hfg

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Dec 1, 2006
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Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
What about Mail?

Is there a good way to have your mail folders and mail history available in the mail application once you have done a clean install?

I have tried to export the old-system mail, then import it to the new-system mail, but it simply adds an import folder to the mail sidebar. I would like it to be exactly like the old mail when I am done.
 

jojoba

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Original poster
Dec 9, 2011
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Thanks everyone, this is really useful.

I've never done a TM restore before, or any other restore for that matter (hence this thread).

I do have a bootable copy (the SuperDuper - thanks to the poster suggesting to test it after back up, which I haven't done yet).

I usually copy important files over to DropBox as well, some of my folders are permanently synced to DropBox using MacDropAny.

And I really appreciated this, it's the kind of stuff I'd never think about:

(make sure TM doesn't try to start backing up while running from the SuperDuper partition--if I recall correctly that can corrupt your existing TM backup).
Regarding the post above talking about about mail history, bookmarks and itunes playlists etc: more generally, what disappears and what stays with a clear reinstall from TM?
 

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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Regarding the post above talking about about mail history, bookmarks and itunes playlists etc: more generally, what disappears and what stays with a clear reinstall from TM?
I think we need to clarify what a true "clean install" is. If you wipe the entire drive and reinstall the OS, none of your data is going to be there. No mail, no iTunes music, no bookmarks... nothing. All you will get back is what you manually move back piece by piece from a backup source or pull in over the network (Internet/iCloud).

If you use the Time Machine restore option that WILL bring back all your settings and data, but also completely defeats the purpose of the clean install, and is not really a clean install any longer. If there is a system setting or application setting that is causing you problems, doing a Time Machine restore just puts that problem right back on your machine.

Apologies if you already understood this, but from your questions it appeared there may be a little confusion? :)

----------

What about Mail?

Is there a good way to have your mail folders and mail history available in the mail application once you have done a clean install?

I have tried to export the old-system mail, then import it to the new-system mail, but it simply adds an import folder to the mail sidebar. I would like it to be exactly like the old mail when I am done.
It depends. If you are using IMAP for email you can open a new machine out of the box and enter your email account settings and the Mail app will pull all your folders and messages in from the IMAP server exactly as they were.

Non-IMAP and you will want to copy over the ~/Library/Mail folders.
 

jojoba

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Dec 9, 2011
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I think we need to clarify what a true "clean install" is. If you wipe the entire drive and reinstall the OS, none of your data is going to be there. No mail, no iTunes music, no bookmarks... nothing. All you will get back is what you manually move back piece by piece from a backup source or pull in over the network (Internet/iCloud).

If you use the Time Machine restore option that WILL bring back all your settings and data, but also completely defeats the purpose of the clean install, and is not really a clean install any longer. If there is a system setting or application setting that is causing you problems, doing a Time Machine restore just puts that problem right back on your machine.

Apologies if you already understood this, but from your questions it appeared there may be a little confusion? :)
Yes, that was very clarifying! :) No, I didn't understand that. Perhaps I need to rethink this. What prompted me to think of reinstall in the first place is that I feel the Air has gotten a bit 'buggy' in different ways, and then I saw this other thread on here where someone said they had done a clean install and that this had solved various issues and increased the battery life.
 

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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California
Yes, that was very clarifying! :) No, I didn't understand that. Perhaps I need to rethink this. What prompted me to think of reinstall in the first place is that I feel the Air has gotten a bit 'buggy' in different ways, and then I saw this other thread on here where someone said they had done a clean install and that this had solved various issues and increased the battery life.
IMO you are wise to think on this a bit. For a new user unfamiliar with OS X it can be a huge hassle only to end up back where you were to start.

Maybe post up exactly the problems you are having and we can take a shot at those for you. Our rates are quite reasonable. :D
 

hfg

macrumors 68040
Dec 1, 2006
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Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
It depends. If you are using IMAP for email you can open a new machine out of the box and enter your email account settings and the Mail app will pull all your folders and messages in from the IMAP server exactly as they were.

Non-IMAP and you will want to copy over the ~/Library/Mail folders.
Ok ... that helps a lot. They are pretty well hidden in there if you aren't using the mail app to view them. :) But the size of ~/Library/Mail would seem to indicate that that is where all the mail data probably resides. I will build a new user account and copy that over and do a little inspection.

Thanks for the pointer... :)

Edit: Under ML they hide the user system files unless you use the menubar GO and press "option". How do you view these files in a user folder which isn't the logged
-in user?

-howard
 
Last edited:

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
30,174
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California
Edit: Under ML they hide the user system files unless you use the menubar GO and press "option". How do you view these files in a user folder which isn't the logged
-in user?

-howard
You will need to use copy commands from Terminal preceded by "sudo" which will allow you to access those files. You will need to type the full user name rather than the ~.
 

Saturn1217

macrumors 6502a
Apr 28, 2008
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It is pretty easy to make the user library visible (just the way it was in Snow Leopard) in Lion or ML.

Just open the Terminal and type:

chflags nohidden /Users/[username]/Library/

Where [username] is the name of your computer. It will be the name of your home folder in finder.

And if you are going to do a true clean install (no time machine backup transfer) and try to restore old settings like mail I would consider this essential.

I do have to say I have never tried to do a clean install by restoring apps and data from time machine. I like to do things manually but that is just me.
 

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