Clean install but restore files and software?

Discussion in 'macOS Sierra (10.12)' started by noisedude, May 12, 2017.

  1. noisedude macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2009
    Hi guys, my 2012 mini is running very slow and despite killing some rogue processes and regularly running Onyx and the like, it's still causing me problems. It's a restore of a restore of a restore, going back several Macs and about ten years.

    Before I drop significant money on getting a fusion drive or SSD I wonder whether I should try and get Sierra cleanly installed. But it's making me nervous - ideally I would've bought a new mini and gradually manually migrated stuff, but as we know, these aren't forthcoming.

    The 1TB HDD is 90% full and has been backing up to my Time Capsule and a local USB drive. It's my main machine for both work and leisure so there's a lot of stuff I can't risk losing.

    Does anyone know how I can do a low risk clean install while still getting back all my libraries, folders and files? I can cope with manually reinstalling software if I need to.
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Yes. hold CMD+R on startup, select Reinstall macOS. This will not affect any data/applications and will only reinstall core OS components.

    However I can advise Sierra doesn't run that well on spinning drives. Also due to the age the HDD may be failing. Run SMART Utility and see what it says:

    If it's failing then that's a definite replace for SSD job.
  3. noisedude thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2009
    Thank you! Don't worry if you don't know the answer, but will that type of reinstall clear out all the millions of orphaned plist files and other bits of junk I probably have built up?

    I wondered about the drive too but it passes all tests in Disk Utility. It's just passed all the tests in SMART Utility too. Honestly it sounds more like the drive is constantly indexing, though I appreciate at nearly five years old I should probably be planning for its replacement. Am I crazy for wanting a 1 TB SSD, to keep things old fashioned and simple? I'm not wild about all the cloud storage systems and sorting between internally and externally stored files seems like a bit of a chore.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009

    If you want to speed up a 2012 Mini -- I mean REALLY speed it up -- do this:

    1. Get an SSD (I like Crucial and Sandisk).
    2. Put it into an external enclosure that supports UASP, or use a USB3/SATA dock or "dongle/adapter".
    3. Initialize it and install a "clean copy" of the OS of your choice onto it (I like El Capitan).
    4. At this point you can use either the setup assistant to do a migration from the internal drive (see notes below), or -- do a "manual migration" on your own (after setting up a new account).

    You don't have to buy a 1tb SSD unless you want to spend the money.
    Even a 240gb SSD would probably do fine, if you take the following into consideration.

    You want to leave the "large libraries" of stuff (usually movies, music, and pics) on the INTERNAL drive. These kind of files don't generally require "speed", as they usually aren't accessed often.
    The idea is to keep the SSD "lean and clean" so it will always perform at its best.
    This IS NOT difficult to do -- all it takes is a little thought and planning.
    It's very easy to manage more than one drive volume on your desktop -- you may already be doing so.

    Nothing else you do -- NOTHING -- is going to "make the difference" that an SSD will make.

    With the 2012 Mini, I highly recommend that you "go the external route" as I outlined above. This is how I've been running my own late-2012 Mini for more than four years now, and it still runs as well as the day I first powered it up.

    There have been too many reports of those who thought they could install a drive internally in the Mini, and then opened it, and then... BROKE something inside.
    Why take the risk?
  5. noisedude thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2009
    Thanks very much for the detailed reply. (I wasn't going to do the upgrade myself - there's a good authorised repair place near me, just the upgrade/migration is about 35% of the cost of a new machine, if there was a new one to buy!)

    How does Time Machine behave for this sort of thing? Would it treat the backing up of the system's own user files on my boot volume and the 'manually managed' folders on the internal HDD as one thing? Or would I need to use some other backup/sync software to handle backups of the big slow archive drive?
  6. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    OP wrote:
    "How does Time Machine behave for this sort of thing?"

    I don't use TM, have never used it, ever.

    I use and recommend CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper (I realize I'm like a broken record about that around here).

    But you don't really need either of them, OR Time Machine.

    Just "set up" the SSD externally as mentioned above.
    Once you can boot from it, you can then use:
    - setup assistant right at the completion of the install process
    - migration assistant (you'll need to create a NEW account on the SSD first)
    - a "manual migration" (in which you move things yourself, requires a few special considerations but is easily do-able).

    Get the SSD, get an enclosure, get the OS onto it, and everything else should fall right into place.
  7. noisedude thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2009
    OK so I have the SSD and enclosure and I'm re-running all my backups to be safe. But the big question is ...

    How do I set about doing a manual migration? It's a while since I had to dig into the mechanics of a Mac but I know Migration Assistant got me into this mess so I'm going to have to do it the old fashioned way.

    For consideration:

    - I have a large Photos library (100GB) and various orphaned fragments of old iPhoto libraries that may not all be upgraded/in the main one
    - I have a big mp3 library and use Apple Music, but don't know if those two interact on my Mac
    - I don't use iCloud Drive or sync my desktop/downloads folders, I don't use iCloud Photo Library either
    - I do have a little bit of Dropbox and Google Drive stuff which I guess syncs itself after the software's set up.
    - I want to take all my local iPhone and iPad backups with me
    - There's one other user account on here and it needs all the same stuff taking with it
    - My Time Machine backups aren't encrypted so are browsable, but I don't actually know how to unlock files owned by another user/machine when I browse manually
    - My new external SSD for the OS is 250GB and old internal HDD is 1TB so I'll be using a variety of USB drives to shuffle things around until I can wipe the internal drive and use it just for storage

    This seems like a big job to me!
  8. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Do you have the new SSD running with an OS installed on it?
    If not, you should get an OS on it.

    If you are CERTAIN you're going to do a "manual migration" (that is, NOT use either setup assistant or migration assistant), you can create a new account on it, as well. In this case I would use [what I would want to remain] my regular account name and the password I intend to use for it.
    (IF you are going to use SA or MA, you -don't want- to get the user accounts mixed up, as in a "new one" -and- "an old one" together. Too many problems!)

    I would get the account established, and then get the apps I was going to use set up.

    If you get that far, then it's time to start thinking about migrating data and libraries over.
  9. noisedude thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2009
    Thanks. I'll start there. I think an old migration assistant between two similar but not identical usernames was actually the start of my problems with this Mac and I spent forever trying to repair permissions afterwards. Manual it is.

    I spent most of today running various extra backups and archiving as much as possible so my folders are as tidy as possible...
  10. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    It's trivially easy to solve permissions problems on external drives.

    Do this:
    1. Let the drive icon mount on the desktop
    2. Click on the icon ONE TIME to select it (but not open it)
    3. Type command-i (eye) to bring up the get info box
    4. Down towards the bottom, there's "sharing and permissions". If you can't see it, click the "disclosure arrow" to reveal it.
    5. Click on the lock icon and enter your password
    6. Next, put a check into "ignore ownership on this volume"
    7. Close the get info box

    Now, you can copy ANY file to your new account, and the file ownership will be assumed by that account.
    You can also delete ANY file on that drive, even OS files that you normally couldn't touch.

    There are other special considerations that must be observed when copying from one home folder to another...
  11. noisedude thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2009
    That's really really helpful, thanks.

    What special considerations should I be aware of?
  12. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "What special considerations should I be aware of?"

    When copying from one home folder to another, you CANNOT copy the "primary sub-folders" in a home folder's hierarchy.
    However, you CAN copy things INSIDE those folders.

    You CANNOT just copy the "music" folder from one home folder to another.
    You CAN copy things -inside- the music folder, such as individual files, your iTunes library, etc.
    This works the same for the other sub-folders, as well.

    Also, to avoid permissions problems, I would move the "source" home folder (the one that you're going to copy from) to AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE, and then use the "permissions trick" in post 10 above.

    Got that?
  13. noisedude thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2009
    I think so, thanks. When you say "works the same" do you mean I can copy a sub folder like a file or I can't like a system-made main folder?

    So I'll take a copy of an entire user account's primary folder over to an external drive, do the permissions thing and then grab the content of the sub folders (everything in desktop, documents, photos, etc) for their new proper destinations?
  14. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    "So I'll take a copy of an entire user account's primary folder over to an external drive, do the permissions thing and then grab the content of the sub folders (everything in desktop, documents, photos, etc) for their new proper destinations?"

    Most of this should work ok.
    I would STRONGLY SUGGEST that you DO NOT just "copy it all at once".
    Move one component (such as music) and see that it's working as intended.
    Then go back and do the same with pictures.
    Then with movies, etc.

    I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you keep a handwritten record beside you as you progress.

    I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you be careful moving items from the Library folder. There are numerous subfolders and files therein. Some things may work, others may not. Experimentation and testing is required.

    Plan on 5-8 hours to get a complete manual migration working properly.
    It might take much less.
    But you never know.
  15. noisedude thread starter macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2009
    Thanks mate. Much appreciated. Believe me, having already taken three days shuffling various backups around a stack of hard disks, caution and checking carefully is the plan. I also have the problem of balancing my shift from a big slow HDD to a small quick SSD plus archive storage to manage, which will change the locations of some files... I had reckoned on it taking up to a full day to do get this all done. :)

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14 May 12, 2017