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OS X Upgrade Safety Tips

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OS X Upgrade Safety Tips

By John Christopher, contributor to The Macintosh Bible, 8th Edition

If you're ready to upgrade to OS X, here are a few simple suggestions to ensure that your data makes the transition safely.

Back up your entire hard drive

When you install OS X, it makes some radical changes to your hard drive. Some of the changes take place at a low level, beyond the files, folders, and icons you normally see. Specifically, the OS X Installer installs a new disk driver, then gives you the option to completely erase your hard drive and choose from different file systems.

If you don't back up your data, you risk losing access to your files if the drive should crash, or even if you just make an error in judgment during the installation process.

It's best if you can back up your entire hard drive, but if you don't have a device capable of handling the task, at a bare minimum you should back up the System Folder, Documents folder, everything on your Macintosh desktop, and any files you may have saved elsewhere on your drive. Be aware that programs like America Online and Quicken create data files and save them within their application folders.

Upgrade to OS X backup software

Once you back up your existing files, you need to think about how you're going to back up your data while operating under OS X. This requires you to upgrade to a backup program written specifically for OS X.

At the time of this writing, FWB's ( BackUp ToolKit was the only commercial backup software program designed to run under OS X. Dantz Development (, was still working on the release of its updated Retrospect program, which is scheduled to be out in the first quarter of 2002.

Organize your files

OS X likes to reorganize your data files into multiple subfolders named documents, movies, music, and pictures. Each of these folders is found within a folder identified by your user name.

It's a good idea to move all the files you might have on your desktop into your Documents folder before installing OS X. If necessary, you can create a separate folder and name it something like "Files from the Desktop."

All the files you stored on your desktop running under OS 9 or earlier will seemingly disappear the first time you start up your Mac under OS X. But don't worry--OS X keeps your files safe. Just double-click on your hard drive icon and look for the folder called Desktop (Mac OS 9). Click on the folder, and your missing files will magically reappear.

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