Prepping for Tiger

by Chuck Toporek

When Apple finally announced Tiger's release date, one of the first things I did was to start making a checklist of things I needed to do before upgrading to Tiger. And while Derrick Story's article on Housecleaning Tips for Tiger proved useful, there's a lot to think about and do before you gut your system and install Tiger.

  1. Backup: First and foremost, you've got to have a solid back up, because even though Tiger will offer an "Archive & Install" option (just like Panther and Jaguar before it), MacHeads know that there's nothing like a clean install to clearing the gremlins out of your system. Whether you're using Carbon Copy Cloner, .Mac's Backup application, Retrospect, or just copying important files over to an external FireWire drive, make sure that your backup has everything you need. For example, some things you should seriously consider backing up include:

    • Your Documents folder

    • Any preferences you've set for apps you plan to reinstall on Tiger (look in ~/Library/Preferences)

    • Your email; if you're using, look in ~/Library/Mail

    • Your iPhoto Library (~/Pictures/iPhoto Library)

    • Your iTunes Library (~/Music/iTunes)

    • Anything you might have saved to your Desktop (come on, admit it, we all save crap to our Desktops)

    • If you use the Terminal and you've altered your shell's settings, consider backing up your .bash_profile file .

    • If you're using iBlog to blog to your .Mac HomePage, you'll want to backup your blog (look in ~/Sites/iblog)

    • Any additional screen savers or sounds you might have installed on the system

    • Keychains...don't forget to bring your Keychains along with you (~/Library/Keychains

    ...these just to name a few. The point to stress here is think of the files that are important to you, and make sure you back those up to a place where you can quickly reload them after installing Tiger.

  2. Don't Forget About Other Users: Accounts, that is. If you have more than one user account on your system, don't forget to backup any data they have in their Home directory as well.

  3. Copy Your Network, VPN, and Modem Settings: It never hurts to jot this info down and set these anew once you've reinstalled. Go to System Preferences > Network to snag your network settings, and Internet Connect (/Applications) to copy your VPN and modem settings.

  4. Applications (Part 1): Don't just copy over applications from a backup; give them a fresh install, just as you would with the system. Now, I know what you're thinking, "The guy's nuts," or "That takes too much time," and you're right in both cases. But seriously, sure, it might take you 3 or 4 or 8 hours to install the applications on your clean Tiger system, but you're doing yourself a favor. Forget to copy one important file over, and you could be in for a world of hurt.

  5. Applications (Part 2): When it comes to all those third-party apps you've got on your system, look for updates for them before you start the gutting and installing process. Create a folder on your Desktop (there we go again, saving crap to the Desktop), and then download the latest installers for all your favorite apps and save them to that folder.

    As Derrick mentioned in his article, now's the time to take a look through your Applications folder and do a gut-check with all those third-party apps you've installed and tested. Haven't used one in a while? Chances are you won't in the future, so don't bother grabbing the installer.

  6. Application Updates and Drivers:
    Yeah, I know, enough about apps already, right? Well, okay, this is the final point. If you run apps from Adobe, Macromedia, Bare Bones, etc., or have installed drivers for your scanner, camera, or some other odd device, you might want to take a pass by the product sites and download the latest updates. Usually, you can find these under a "Support" link, or some such.

  7. Burn that Folder! Once you've got all your apps and/or application updates, and device drivers saved in that folder on your Desktop, burn it to CD or DVD. That way, once Tiger's installed on your system, you can just pop in the disc and run the installers from there.

  8. Clean Install Time: Once you've got your backup and you've got all your application and device driver ducks in a row, it's time to install that new Tiger system you've been waiting months for. As mentioned earlier, if you can get away with doing a clean install, do it. Don't go for the Archive & Install option. While it's nice to have, there's nothting like a clean slate to work from.

  9. Really Clean that System: If you want to do yourself a favor, you might want to consider running Disk Utility during the install process (go to the Utilities menu and select "Disk Utility"). You can use Disk Utility to partition your hard drive, and if you go the Erase tab and click the "Security Options" button, you can opt to Zero Out the drive, or do a 7- or 35-pass erase, which completely wipes your drive clean, making it damned near impossible for you or anyone else to ever recover anything that once lived on your hard drive.

  10. Install, Reboot, and Reload: Once you've installed Tiger, it's time to go back and load on the stuff from your backup. Make sure you drop everything where it belongs. Then start installing applications and any updates or drivers you've burned to disc. While you're installing the apps, you can always use that time to tweak the System Preferences to configure the system to your liking.

  11. Run Software Update: This catches any updates you might need for the iLife apps, iWork, Final Cut Pro, etc.

One last thing you might want to consider doing is, after you've got your Mac configured and set up just the way you want it -- with all your apps installed and upgraded -- is to image your system and burn that to a DVD or place the image on an external FireWire drive (or better yet, your iPod). That way, if you ever need to gut and reinstall from scratch again, you can just reinstall that image on your hard drive.

Are you ready for Tiger? How long will it be before you upgrade?


2005-04-28 20:30:48
Is this time effective
I'm not sure this approach is necessary with this minor upgrade. Backuping up yes, but a clean install. This isn't OS 9. How many failures have occurred because a clean install isn't done?
2005-04-29 08:21:46
re: Is this time effective
Well, I wouldn't call Tiger a "minor upgrade"; it's not by any means. Maybe you should go back to using OS 9 to remind yourself how painful using a Mac used to be, then you might appreciate some of the changes Tiger offers, even over Panther.
2005-04-29 14:53:59
Upgrade, after all it's a Mac ;-)
I'm just doing a complete clone.

Then I will:

- repair permissions

- boot from clone, thereby checking it for bootability

- then check (and maybe repair) internal drive with DU

- then check (and maybe repair) internal file system with DiskWarrior

- finally UPGRADE the internal drive.

In the past 10+ years this is what I've always done. Works fine (if you've not messed up your system :-p)

Cheers, Tom
(nevertheless knocking on wood)

2005-05-02 00:13:24
re: Is this time effective
And another urban myth gathers momentum. Up until recently you could boot back into OS9 - the sheer speed that OS9 ran at, compared to OS X, was so embarassing that I bet that had something to do with the option being Steve'd.

For many categories of users, OS X is only now approaching the usability of an averagely well maintained OS 9 installation. For people with basic needs, I doubt it ever will. Just an opinion...

What I'd really like to read about Tiger is WHY I should upgrade. Real reasons, not marketing and eye candy. What has improved under the hood ? Is it actually cost effective to spend a day backing up and restoring my G5 2.5Ghz - will I see any real benefits ? Spotlight is clearly a nice bit of software engineering, but I'm not so disorganised that I'm likely to really need it. I use "Find" maybe 2 or 3 times a week. As for indexing inside a file...whatever happened to "V-Twin" aka Sherlock search ? Dashboard... what is this ? My First Apple ? Convince me, somebody, please...

2006-02-19 22:40:02
I found the answers to my questions.