If you have to ask about a "clean install" you SHOULDN'T do one

Discussion in 'OS X Mavericks (10.9)' started by robgendreau, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Excuse the rant :D but:

    A normal Mac user does not need to do a clean installation of Mavericks.

    Indeed, for many inexperienced users it's a risky process since it involves erasing your computer's hard drive and starting over. That necessarily entails added risk.

    I would say that even if you have a working TM backup it's a bad idea; do you know that TM backup is good? And if AFTER the clean install you use setup assistant or migration assistant, then you're probably not doing a really "clean" installation, since you have no idea what those processes are choosing to migrate over. It'll probably just replace ALL the non-system stuff you just erased. And if you don't know the difference between those two methods -- setup and migration -- that's another reason you shouldn't do a clean install. Hint: user ID number. And you can't manually install from TM in any reasonable way.

    Manually installing all your applications and settings can be a real PITA. And unless you have a very simple setup (ie mostly Apple or MAS applications, and saved copies of all your downloaded software) moving things manually can break stuff. And if your setup is simple, than what's the use of a clean install?

    And if you have a clone and/or another good backup why not try a regular, Apple-sanctioned installation of Mavericks? It's faster, simpler, and at least as likely to be successful as erasing all your stuff and starting over. And if it doesn't work for some reason, THEN you can do your clean installation. You only lose a little time this way at worst and at best you save a ton of time.

    Finally, what's the rationale? Are you seriously worried about superfluous 512k pref files on a one terabyte drive? I can certainly see it if your current installation is wonky, but better to diagnose the problem.

    Almost all of us are just fine with Apple's way of doing an upgrade. There is simply no need to do a clean installation of the new OS unless you have a specialized situation (say you don't have a Recovery Partition and now want one). Do yourself a favor and at least TRY Apple's method first. You probably will save yourself a lot of headaches. I want you to be successful; I really do.
  2. Xian Zhu Xuande macrumors 6502a

    Xian Zhu Xuande

    Jul 30, 2008
    You don't learn how to do things if you don't try.

    Really, before any big upgrade, people should have a functional backup. It isn't a bad idea to combine a Time Machine backup with a disk image backup on the side (e.g. Carbon Copy Cloner). Once you've taken care of the backup, there's no harm in attempting a clean installation or a regular upgrade.

    Agreed, though, that the regular upgrade should be sufficient for the vast majority of users as long as they're not experiencing noteworthy problems.
  3. robgendreau thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    It's ironic that Apple has made Mavericks so easy (you don't even have to pay) that it seems just like doing an upgrade of foo.app from the Mac Apple Store. Just hit the button. I already saw a post where some poor guy did that, and then shut the machine off when it appeared to hang for a long time at "1 minute to go." Now it won't start, and he posts here wondering what to do, since he doesn't have a backup.

    I sometimes wonder, given the fact storage space is cheap, why Apple doesn't create some kind of backup within the Recovery Partition by default. Sell the machines with bigger hard drives and automatic backup to at least another partition. Then if you needed the space you'd have to make a conscious decision to eliminate a backup. Sorta big brother, but you could turn it off.
  4. filmbuff macrumors 6502a


    Jan 5, 2011
    I'm a "power user" and I don't bother with doing clean installs. The reason I got a Mac is so I wouldn't have to worry about stuff like that :D
  5. 853503 macrumors newbie

    Oct 17, 2013
    I've done literally 4 clean installs in the past month lol

    1 extracting the installESD.dmg to do a clean install of Mavericks over Snow Leopard. 2 using the createinstallmedia method so I would have the recovery partition. 3 because i accidentally messed up my Library by overzealously deleting stuff I thought I didn't need. 4 to wipe away 13A598 for 13A603.

    I run a really skeletal setup and keep all my info on external HDs so it's easy.
  6. terzinator macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011
    I was gonna do a regular "upgrade" install, but let's say I like the idea of a clean install.

    Like many out there, on my MBP I have a main 240GB SSD, and a 750GB HDD instead of my optical… (the SSD is the boot drive, with my apps, a virtual machine and my user folder, but all documents/data/music/photos/movies are on the HDD)

    I was thinking I'd just clone my apps and VM to the HDD, as well as any other important bits… but what are the other important bits, do you think? What system stuff is best to keep?
  7. robgendreau thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    Ah, there's the rub. Unless you already know, why not just keep what Apple either puts there or leaves there? The system isn't the big space hog on your SSD; it's probably user stuff. Some applications, e.g., like to use ~/Library/Application Support to store some stuff, like databases, etc.

    So if you're getting by now I doubt Mavericks will add anything itself that will overflow your SSD. I've heard of some issues with folks who had symbolic links to the default folders like ~/Documents. But I would think you could do a regular install and THEN check the sizes of stuff and move anything off at that point if it cramps your SSD.
  8. terzinator macrumors 6502

    Feb 27, 2011
    Yeah, but isn't a "clean" install kind of a good idea? If it's not, why do people want to do it? Is it just to be cool?

    I'm not worried about "overflowing my SSD" (frankly, I don't know what that is)… but if I can move the stuff to the other drive, and then do a fresh install on the SSD, and then move the VM back and whatever, is that a bad idea just because a person asks about it?

    I know there are a lot of "if you have to ask about it, you shouldn't mess with it" things out there. Command-line stuff is right up there. But if you have a backup of your data, what's BAD about doing a clean install? And if there's NO GOOD reason to do a clean install, then why is there a 10-page thread on it?

    These are real questions. Not trying to be a dingus.
  9. farmermac macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2009
    Windows converts. Really windows makes it a pita to upgrade OS in a lot of instances; itll install itself over itself but not save any of the install data for programs so now you have to reinstall everything, etc. Its a messy process. With the way mac os works i havent done a clean install since 2008. Still have my original leopard install that upgraded through 5 OSs now.
  10. frosse macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2007
    I currently use a MBP from mid 2010 and it's full of crap, everything from apps to documents. So I'll just do a clean install to get it running smoothly again. What do you mean is the hassle after you've done your clean install? What's there to do?
  11. Mr Rabbit macrumors 6502a

    Mr Rabbit

    May 13, 2013
    Same here. My position at work is "Mac Admin" and I very rarely do clean installs unless there is some sort of bad existing software corruption. At home? Forget about it, last thing I want is more work to do when I'm not getting paid. I "might" click "Backup Now" in Time Machine before doing the upgrade but even then I consider it highly optional unless the hard drive is older.

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