Is there a need to wipe and reinstall the OS every year or two?

mpovolo

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 30, 2010
41
0
With windows I did it annually as the system became slow and painful. Lately I have noticed that my Jan 2010 iMAC with Lion has been freezing more often. I normally just put it to sleep and lately it just gets really slow and I need to reboot it, which then fixes everything. I was thinking of wiping it and reinstalling the OS from the factory disks.

Thoughts?

thanks
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,753
142
I never have. I've done a verify and repair permissions before and I've used Onyx to do some cleaning that seems to do a better job than anything I could do sans software. However, the one thing I left behind with Windows and never thought to do again was the annual format and re-install of the OS.

Others may say different, mine is just my own experience and preference.
 

EthanMiller

macrumors member
Aug 15, 2011
73
3
Go into System Settings, select Users and Groups. Under the Login Items tab, there may be a long list. Removing the things you don't need will grant you a speed boost upon reboot (because they'll stop automatically launching).
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,419
759
I agree. I've never done a reinstall, repaired permissions or many of the other maintenance tasks that so many think is necessary. That's one of the reasons I made the switch to Mac from Windows: I got tired of "tinkering" to keep it running well. My almost 4 year old MBP still runs as fast and reliably as it did out of the box.

Performance Tips For Mac OS X
 

SkippyScud

macrumors member
May 10, 2011
70
0
USA
I've never found a need to wipe the mac OS. It's just inherent in Windows to slow down over time for some reason. Although I find it less with Windows 7.

Mostly now I just redo my Windows side because I need more space allocated to it (games) and bootcamp does not support expanding the partition after its made.
 

old-wiz

macrumors G3
Mar 26, 2008
8,323
221
West Suburban Boston Ma
I've owned 6 Mac systems since 2005, and only once have I needed to re-install the OS and that was due to a bad software update on my first iBook. Since then I've upgraded the software but done no reinstalls.
 

mpovolo

macrumors member
Original poster
Nov 30, 2010
41
0
thanks everyone

Do any of you use software to clean things up. I for example had loaded plex and i still see something running in the top bar even though I threw the app in the trash.
 

questioner76

macrumors member
Apr 27, 2011
70
9
I have this exact same problem with my imac. Plex still shows on the top bar even though I put it in the trash.

thanks everyone

Do any of you use software to clean things up. I for example had loaded plex and i still see something running in the top bar even though I threw the app in the trash.
 

Hackfix21

macrumors member
Jun 1, 2011
69
0
defragging

Macs do slow down about every 6 months or so as well in my experience - not an exclusive PC problem.

The thing I've found to make the biggest difference, both in terms of startup speed and general operating speed is defragging.

I know there's some controversy about this, with many saying "but Macs defrag themselves automatically", and maybe to some extent they do, but after buying and running iDefrag I've seen it for myself. iDefrag shows you the level of fragmentation on your HD (showing nice scary red bits where there's supposed to be fragmentation), and you may say that iDefrag would be biased to try to show you that there's lots of fragmentation even if there isn't (after all it would be trying to justify it's existence), but I really did notice the difference. Startup was somewhat faster (I'd guess probably because the various OS updates over time must also make a bit of a mess of where on the HD your operation system is actually installed), but mostly things like starting up iPhoto was noticeably faster.

In addition I regularly run Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner for general maintenance (like repairing permissions).
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,419
759
Macs do slow down about every 6 months or so
Not unless there's something wrong, or you have done things to make it slower. If it's running slow, this may help: Performance Tips For Mac OS X
The thing I've found to make the biggest difference, both in terms of startup speed and general operating speed is defragging.
You don't need to defrag on Mac OS X, except possibly when partitioning a drive.

About disk optimization with Mac OS X
You probably won't need to optimize at all if you use Mac OS X.
In addition I regularly run Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner for general maintenance
You really don't need "cleaner" or "maintenance" apps to keep your Mac running well, and some of these apps can do more harm than good. Most only remove files/folders or unused languages or architectures, which does nothing more than free up some drive space. It will not make your Mac run faster or more efficiently, since having stuff stored on a drive does not impact performance, unless you're running out of drive space.

Mac OS X does a good job of taking care of itself, without the need for 3rd party software.
(like repairing permissions).
Some people repair, or recommend repairing permissions for situations where it isn't appropriate. Repairing permissions only addresses very specific issues. It is not a "cure all" or a general performance enhancer, and doesn't need to be done on a regular basis. It also doesn't address permissions problems with your files or 3rd party apps.
Disk Utility repairs the permissions for files installed by the Mac OS X Installer, Software Update, or an Apple software installer. It doesn’t repair permissions for your documents, your home folder, and third-party applications.

You can verify or repair permissions only on a disk with Mac OS X installed.
Does Disk Utility check permissions on all files?

Files that aren't installed as part of an Apple-originated installer package are not listed in a receipt and therefore are not checked. For example, if you install an application using a non-Apple installer application, or by copying it from a disk image, network volume, or other disk instead of installing it via Installer, a receipt file isn't created. This is expected. Some applications are designed to be installed in one of those ways.

Also, certain files whose permissions can be changed during normal usage without affecting their function are intentionally not checked.
There are times when repairing permissions is appropriate. To do so, here are the instructions:
If repairing permissions results in error messages, some of these messages can be ignored and should be no cause for concern.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
25,750
8,688
Detroit
My experiences have been that with Windows (XP and earlier mostly), yes you need to wipe it on occasion to clean it up or fix one thing or another.

My OS X experience of the last 6 years hasn't had me have to wipe it even one time for any reason. Every upgrade I've had, Tiger --> Leopard --> Snow Leopard --> Lion, has gone smooth and I've never had to redo any of them.
 

Hackfix21

macrumors member
Jun 1, 2011
69
0
@ GGJstudios: ok, you seem to know what you're talking about, and I'm not going to pretend to be a techie on these things myself. But on the defragging: I know that many people say Mac does that itself, but I KNOW it made a difference. I saw it. It does.
 

GGJstudios

macrumors Westmere
May 16, 2008
44,419
759
@ GGJstudios: ok, you seem to know what you're talking about, and I'm not going to pretend to be a techie on these things myself. But on the defragging: I know that many people say Mac does that itself, but I KNOW it made a difference. I saw it. It does.
It's not just that people say that Mac OS X does it, Apple clearly states the reasons why defragging isn't likely to produce any benefit. Just read the link I posted.

There is a difference between measured performance improvement and perceived performance improvement. I have no doubt that it may have felt faster, but unless you have some statistics, benchmarks, etc. to quantify the difference, your conclusions are very subjective.
 

forty2j

macrumors 68030
Jul 11, 2008
2,585
2
NJ
Here you go:
Do I need to optimize?

You probably won't need to optimize at all if you use Mac OS X. Here's why:

Hard disk capacity is generally much greater now than a few years ago. With more free space available, the file system doesn't need to fill up every "nook and cranny." Mac OS Extended formatting (HFS Plus) avoids reusing space from deleted files as much as possible, to avoid prematurely filling small areas of recently-freed space.
Mac OS X 10.2 and later includes delayed allocation for Mac OS X Extended-formatted volumes. This allows a number of small allocations to be combined into a single large allocation in one area of the disk.
Fragmentation was often caused by continually appending data to existing files, especially with resource forks. With faster hard drives and better caching, as well as the new application packaging format, many applications simply rewrite the entire file each time. Mac OS X 10.3 Panther can also automatically defragment such slow-growing files. This process is sometimes known as "Hot-File-Adaptive-Clustering."
Aggressive read-ahead and write-behind caching means that minor fragmentation has less effect on perceived system performance.

For these reasons, there is little benefit to defragmenting.
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1375?viewlocale=en_US

iDefrag showed you that you used to have fragmentation and you don't anymore. But the I/O system works in such a way that fragmentation is almost always irrelevant.
 

talmy

macrumors 601
Oct 26, 2009
4,707
266
Oregon
I had some problems with the Snow Leopard -> Lion upgrade with some old files gumming up the works until I deleted them, so a fresh Lion install instead of an upgrade is probably a good idea. However I've never needed to do a wipe and reinstall in OS X (I started with Jaguar) and have only done it once with Windows since Win2K. I expect people that install and uninstall lots of applications all the time might get problems, but that isn't the way I use my computers.