Planning on Reinstalling OS X

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by Over Achiever, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. Over Achiever macrumors 68000

    Over Achiever

    Jul 22, 2002
    Toledo, OH, formerly Twin Cities, MN
    I'm getting ready for school, so I've been archiving my music and documents and such, and I was thinking, why not archive everything and reinstall Mac OS X fresh! It'd give me a "new" computer for when school hits around, and possibly fix my annoying battery meter problem.

    Question is ... what should I do before I erase everything and reinstall? How do I archive say my e-mail, or my preferences? Is there anything I should save, etc.? What CD/DVDs should I have ready to install?

    I don't want to do this without hitting all the bases, so please post anything/checklists of what I should do.

    Many thanks!


    PS Might as well ask, but what are the little apps that you like to have on your mac/powerbook? I've collected quite a few "must have" apps over the past year and a half, and I'm just wondering what you like. ^_^
  2. mklos macrumors 68000


    Dec 4, 2002
    My house!
    Yeah, its probably a good idea to to a fresh install of Mac OS X every once in a while. It cleans out all the junk, and it doesn't take long at all to reinstall OS X from scratch, even with all the updates.

    I would backup your entire Home Folder. You may not have enough space to back the entire home folder up. If thats the case then obviously you need to back up your Documents, Music, Movies, Photos, AND LIBRARY folders. The library folder has all of your preferences, safari (and any other browser) bookmarks, OS X Mail Mailboxes, Spelling Words thats you've added are in the Library folder, etc...

    When you're putting everything back on your computer, DO NOT REPLACE THE NEWLY CREATED LIBRARY FOLDER!!!! This kinda defeats the purpose of wiping out your system and re-installing everything! Only replace what you need! So, replace the Safari, Mail, Spelling folders, and then take ONLY the preferences you think you need and replace them with the backed up one.

    You can back up to CD, DVD, or if you have an external HD (an iPod will also work!) you can back it up to that as well. In my opinion, its best to get an external hard drive to use as back up. If you have an iPod with extra space on it, then you can use that as a FireWire Hard Drive along with its normal function, to play, and store music.

    I usually make a check list of everything I need to back up and then put a checkmark next to it when I back it up, and then cross it out when I put it back on the new system. If you back up your library folder, inside YOUR home folder, then you'll have mostly everything you need.

    The one thing that I ALWAYS forget to back up is my address book, which IS NOT stored in your library folder for some odd reason. To back that up, launch Address Book, and then under the "File" Menu go down to "backup database". It will then pop a sheet down and ask where you want to back it up to. If you're backing everything up to a CD or DVD, then I'd just back it up to the desktop so you know where it is.

    I would repair permissions BEFORE you install the OS X updates. Its a good idea repair permissions after you install any app, but that does get a little tedious after a while, so I'd just repair permissions before any OS X update, and then again after you're all done putting your stuff back on, apps included. I repair permissions at least once a week and run MacJanitor everyday to keep my Mac running smoothly.

    When you start re-installing Mac OS X, I usually skip over the checking hard drive part, but thats up to you!

    Some of the little apps I like to have are, MacJanitor which runs the UNIX cron cleaning utilities. It cleans out log files and junk like that, that fill up your hard drive and slow your mac down. The daily one should fly right through, along with the monthly one, but the weekly takes a little longer, just so you know. Go to and do a search for MacJanitor (exactly as spelled!) and it should come up.

    If you have a PC and want to view the screen of your PC in your Mac, download Remote Desktop Connection from Microsoft. Just go to and I think its under the other apps section. Just make sure you have remote desktop enabled on your PC, or else you'll spend hours trying to get it to work!

    BTW...NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, DO AN ARCHIVE AND INSTALL!!!! ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, DO AN ERASE AND INSTALL!!!!!! Doing an archive and install just screws everything up and about 95% of the time end up doing an erase and install in the first place!
  3. Duff-Man macrumors 68030


    Dec 26, 2002
    Albuquerque, NM
    Duff-Man says....I do not agree with that statement at all. I have done "archive and install" on my desktop and 2 laptops from 10.1->10.2 and 10.2->10.3 - never had a problem any of those installs at all. I think you have your percentages wrong - 95% of the time archive and install is fine - the other 5% are trouble and then usually because that particular system has been having troubles anyway.....oh yeah!
  4. JFreak macrumors 68040


    Jul 11, 2003
    Tampere, Finland
    you probably only need few files from ~/Library folder - address book, ical files, mail folder, safari bookmark file... what else? it doesn't hurt to back up the whole /Users folder though, but as said, do know what to copy back ;)

    also, if you know what you do, you could also partition your drive while you're re-installing... it really helps to isolate user files from system files (in other words putting OS into dedicated partition) because it is the user library that gets a lot of write activity which gradually fragments your hard drive, which causes a slowdown. to do this you should be familiar with disk utility app and terminal, and you should have confidence in editing a text file (/etc/fstab) as root.
  5. Over Achiever thread starter macrumors 68000

    Over Achiever

    Jul 22, 2002
    Toledo, OH, formerly Twin Cities, MN
    I have a 60 GB HD ... what size partitions should I use?
  6. freiheit macrumors 6502a

    Jul 20, 2004
    That's really dependant on how you use your system. On my PC for instance I'd never found it necessary to allocate more than 10GB for the OS -- until I installed Windows 2000 and it quickly consumed that space because all programs and all user files default to installing to the OS partition. I now use 20GB for the OS.

    On my new Mac with an 80GB drive, I was strongly advised by several users to not partition it (that it didn't need to be partitioned). But I do have a second drive (160GB) for storing all my data files.

    The question is, then, how much space do you need for "just data" and give the OS everything that's left.

    On another note -- speaking of backing up multi-gigabyte folders to CD/DVD, are there any programs that can intelligently split such folders over a series of CDs? I'm not looking to RAR/ZIP/SIT the files and break that over disks, thought that is an option. I'd prefer to have a straight backup of separate files but sorted appropriately to use the least number of CDs but maintain the full directories so I can simply copy back what I want to my hard drive.

  7. wordmunger macrumors 603


    Sep 3, 2003
    North Carolina
    So, mklos, basically you're saying this knowledge base article is not the way to do it? Should I just manually recreate the users and then copy the relevant libraries back?
  8. Angelus macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2002
    New Zealand
    This is what i do when i'm opting for a clean install.
    Go to your applications folder and see if there are any apps there that you downloaded eg. freeware etc.
    Now go to your home folder and backup documents,music, pictures and movies where applicable.
    Take a look in your library folder which is in your home folder and backup folders such as mail,calendar,preferences,sounds(in case you have custom alerts).
    I normally use the synching feature of my ipod or T610 to reload my contacts but is it possible for you to export a group vCard?
    Next go into the library folder found when clicking on the Macintosh hard drive icon. Backup the packages folder(if it has anything in it) to save you having to re-download updates.
    Thats all i can think of for now but please everyone feel free to add to this.
  9. broken_keyboard macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2004
    Secret Moon base
    Whenever I do a clean install I always forget saved game files...

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