I'm finally moving on up...best way to install Leopard?

I’m finally upgrading to Leopard from Tiger (yeah, I know the newer OS is coming out in a few months but the Mac Box Set was just too good a deal to pass on). I don’t have to have the newest, I just want what I have to work properly.

That said, I just got back my MacBook after a HD failure (just over a year old, btw). I’m really glad I have Apple Care, they replaced the HD and optical drive and a wonky cable. All data was lost on the HD though. I had writing backups and I could reconstruct most of the rest, so I only tore out about half my hair. Luckily, I was obsessive about saving passwords and software license data.

Since my new HD only has about 6 weeks of usage, can I install Leopard on top of it or do I still need to do a clean install? How important is this? I’d really love the ease of simply installing it on top of Tiger but I’ve read that’s not a good idea. I have no idea why that is so.

I could also use some recommendations for a good external HD and/or online backup service. I really don’t want to get caught like this again.

The Mac Box Set should get here in a couple of days so I’m hoping to have all my ducks in a row before starting.

When I took my brain-wiped MacBook out of the box, the first thing I installed was Scrivener. I suspect that will always be so.

It’s probably not a huge problem to install Leopard on top of a brand new Tiger installation, but I still wouldn’t do it. Main reason: It’s really just as easy to use the Archive and Install option. It’s in one of the steps, I forget which, under a drop-down menu. What it does it back up all of your Library stuff (including system level) and all user accounts, and install them into the new OS for you. The prior system will be located in a folder at the top level of the drive once you complete the install. The only time I’ve ever had problems with this is with applications that install stuff into the system areas. Ironically, it is Apple that causes the most issues with their pro level software. Most everyone else follows the rules and doesn’t do that. You might have a re-register a few cranky applications, but even that is rare in my experience.

The best thing about Leopard is Time Machine. I had a similar hard drive crash about a year ago, and when I finally replaced the drive I just did a restore from my last TM backup (another option near the one I mentioned, if it is available) and less than half an hour later my MacBook was precisely how I left it before the crash.

Hi nib

I’m someone who did the simplest install and haven’t had any problems so far. I did it about nine months ago on a MacBook that I’d previously used for about nine months. But my set-up was relatively simple.

I use a LaCie external HD, SuperDuper backup software, and, separately, DropBox.


I am a big advocate of the wipe and install. Especially if you don’t have anything on the machine.

Backup? Don’t get me started. I will go all day and prove my basic inability to provide useful information. Ever.

In a nut shell.

  1. Biggest external raid1 drive you can afford.
  2. Get a backup solution that can archive to dvd in a compressed form
  3. Keep graphic records of installed software and setting
  4. Use TM for personal space not system stuff.
  5. Pray that you never need 1-4.

For proper backups, one thing to watch for is software that doesn’t do full disk capture. Something like Retrospect is best because you can grab a bootable restore out of backup if you need it, and sequential backups will only take up the deltas. Plus it can be easily scheduled. Just set it to run overnight every night (it can wake up and sleep your computer for you), combined with the raid1 that Jaysen suggests, and you are set up about as good as any non-tech can get. DVD-Rs is a good suggestion (not DVD-RW, they are less stable) as they are resistive to electric, water and mild impact damage in case of catastrophe. That covers everything* except for fire and polymer eating superviruses. The former can be solved with a relatively cheap media safe fire-vault. The latter, well Crichton might have had something to say about that, but… alas.

[size=20]* Uptime 99.99999%[/size]

Thanks for the very quick responses. I don’t have an external HD yet, but I’ll be getting one. For the Archive and Install option, Amber, can I save it to a dual-layer DVD? I’ve got 5.3 GB in my topmost Library file. If not, then I guess I need to get that external HD first. I can get a WD My Book™ Essential External Hard Drive - 1TB for about $115. If they’re any good I can pick it up this week. As many people seem to swear at them as swear by them, it seems. It’s really difficult to make a HD decision. How’s that LaCie holding up for you, Hugh?
I’ll check back later, I’ve got some research to do, I guess.
Thanks again for your advice.
P.S. While I got some sort of network timeout error while trying to post a reply, I got another post from Jaysen. Thanks, I’ll mull all this over, maybe with some mulled wine, it’s chilly enough today for that.

Here’s the rub. Recommendations on HW for things that are high failure almost ALWAYS bite you in the … foot. So let’s look at it this way:

  1. Backups should be as close to bullet proof as possible. Get something metal and solid.
  2. These suckers are there to bail your “foot” out of the fire. You need reliable. Buy what the industry uses. I use LaCie which is now part of EMC (look that up on google).
  3. Remember the rule of 3. Price, Speed, Reliability. You can dictate 2, the third will be dictated too you. Which is a fancy way of saying if you dictate low cost you are sacrificing one of the other 2.

That said, I use a LaCie big 3 with 500GB SATA3 Segates (what shipped in mine) in a RAID1 connected via FW800. This is for BACKUP and SVN (2 slices ~5GB for svn rest to backup). I have a dedicated 300GB SATA3 in a FW400 IcyDock with 2 backup drives (removable tray) that I use for TimeMachine. I swap drives when I remember. I always force a sync on connection.

My mac is a MBP17 so I am not connected 100% of the time. Hence the apparent paranoia. I do not trust writable optical media as I do not have environmental controls. I will be buying a spare disk for the LaCie to allow offsite storage once I negotiate a better deal with the local vault.

What do i do that I feel is so important? Nothing. It is only the meandering contents of my brain and various code projects. Thing is I put effort into them and they are “pictures of me”. And the fam. I forgot those were on those disks as well, so the contents of those disks is suddenly priceless. Sometimes you forget just how important the data is until you are forced to remember.

See, I warned you about getting me going on backups.

Sorry I wasn’t explaining it well. That installation option works on a single hard drive. It moves the entire contents of the current disk to a top-level folder, and then does a fresh install of Leopard. After doing that it uses the archive folder it made to create your user accounts and restore preferences. It’s all done transparently on the same disk, and you can delete the old system folder (it is redundant) whenever you are sure the Leopard installation went fine without hiccups. When the process is done, it will reboot and should look identical to how you left it—save for the new OS glam.


Exactly where is the archive?

In pseudo-unix: /Disk/ Library System Applications Users Old System*

I don’t remember exactly how it titles it, but that is where it puts it. Macintosh top-level.

Thanks for the followup explanation, Amber. I get it now. I’ll check out LaCie, thanks to Jaysen, and see what seems best. You guys have been a big help.

Hmm… I think you made a mistake. Most folks change that last word to a 3 letter word when referring to me. The use a different 3 letter word to refer to Amber.

I did the Archive and Install for Leopard and if Mail hadn’t broken it would’ve been nearly flawless. I’m using Apple’s Mail program and not only won’t it work–I have to use Force Quit to close it. Does anyone have any ideas before I shed a few tears and do a clean install?

I forgot to empty the Trash before I upgraded and even the Trash was carried over to the new installation. Sigh, but the email program just won’t work. Is there any way I can just re-install the email program?

Damn, and the dedicated volume keys don’t work anymore on my Macally Icekey keyboard. I really like this keyboard, is there anything I can do about this?

Several programs from the latest MacHeist didn’t work with Tiger (like The Hit List) so that was the main impetus for my upgrading, I guess. I suppose I could try a different email program but I like Apple’s Mail.

I’m hoping someone has some ideas…

Thanks for reading.

Oops, I thought I had the latest Macally drivers–I didn’t–but I do now. At least the volume keys seem to be working now.
Hmm, I wonder who’s emailed me? Using my browser to access my email is such a ugly solution. Yeech!
I’ll wait till tomorrow before I do a clean install incase someone has some ideas. On second thought, I’ll probably wait till the weekend when alcohol will make the process less painful.

I had a problem with an ’ in my name in apple mail. You might want to try moving your ~/Library/Mail folder to a new location the creating your mail profile. You can then reimport your old mail.

PITA but that is what I had to do to fix mine.

I use mozy.com for backups. It does everything in the background. Never really had to restore, but I tried just to check and it was easy.

My “backup” 2-gig drive failed even before my iMac’s did, just so you understand my reasons.

As for the Leo installation, the only reason I do clean wipe and install is to save on disk space. I truly believe it installs on top of Tiger just fine.

Jaysen, thanks for the suggestion, it worked perfectly. My archive from the Archive and Install option while upgrading to Leopard was somehow corrupted but I had saved the mailboxes to CD before starting the process so everything is great now. I’m a happy camper!

What? Further damage to my reputation as a fount of useless information and/or suggestions?!

Gaijin de Moscu:
I’m evaluating Mozy and Carbonite and will probably go with one of them. Hopefully before I have another problem, eh?