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Thread: Clean reinstall, iMac

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2004
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    493

    Default Clean reinstall, iMac

    Hello.

    For various reasons detailed elsewhere, I am thinking about doing a clean reinstall (I think you call it) on my iMac Intel.

    The purpose is to get rid of any anomolous bits of downloaded add-ons to QuickTime, iTunes, etc., which may be adversely affecting my PrintFab program.

    Now, I know what I must obviously not delete: documents and images; and I know to make sure that I've got all the original program discs for the reinstalling process, but I would like to hold my iMail data (addresses, archived email, etc), and also my many .aif Garageband and iTunes files.

    What I want to know is this: is there anything that I CANNOT safely move to an external hard-drive and later just move back to my newly formatted and reinstalled iMac?

    What I don't want to happen is to go through a long clean-up process and then unwittingly (good description) reinstate the very problem files!

    (Not even sure what files are the problems. Only working on hints and suspicions at the moment).

    Allen.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    on the landline, Mr. Smith
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    Default

    Good question. Not a simple answer.

    The first part is the easiest: yes, you can (and should) backup everything, and yes you can move everything but system files back over.

    The harder part: Which parts shouldn't you move in order to not "reinstall" the problem you need to kill? I don't think anyone can say with 100% certainty. I would say that usually problems have to with application conflicts, preference file and sometimes font corruption. Ususally user data is pretty harmless to the system.

    So how to proceed?

    Back in OS 9, one would do a clean install (wipe the drive, new virgin OS install), then install the few core things you need and/or are sure work well together. Once the box is up and happy with these core installs, and has been tested to the point of your confidence in it, you would then add one or two things at time, being very careful to notice when the problem shows it head again, and what was just installed that caused it. Simple process of elimination in reverse......or maybe it should be called destructive testing.

    This is still the best overall method to use regardless of platform if you just don't know what introduces the problem. The only other real option I am aware of is to google the hell out of the problem and hope to find useful info that can pinpoint the source of the problem/conflict. Assuming what you find on the web is relevant to your setup.....another variable.

    If you are using friendly backup software and have a volume or partition or two to play with, you can even go so far at to clone your OS after the clean install and with your trusted apps installed - before any problems arise - so that should you install, add, or change things that leave you with a malfunctioning machine, you can start in the middle, instead of going back to install from the CD/DVD every time.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Posts
    493

    Default

    Thanks, unclemac, I'll digest that for a bit.

    Just one question so far (and I know it must be late where you are, unlike in London, where it's morning)....

    Is 'cloning' just copying, or does the term carry some other deeper meaning? If it is just copying, then I've got loads of room - the iMac has got a 160gb hard drive, but I've got a 250gb external, which is largely empty.

    Thanks.

    Allen.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Location
    NW Montana
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    Default

    s 'cloning' just copying, or does the term carry some other deeper meaning?
    Well it is the same IMO. Cloning keeps all the nitty gritty aliases, symbolic links and directory paths correct. Where if you just drag files from a hard drive to another hard drive or partition you might lose those.

    I use SuperDuper and it makes an exact copy of my system/some data boots just fine and uses the same amount of hard drive space.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    on the landline, Mr. Smith
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    Default

    Another good question. A little more information:

    I use the term cloning (I think it is pretty universal) to mean: making a full, bootable copy of a configured system to a different volume.

    So you end up with an exact "clone" of the entire system. You could boot to it, and not tell any difference: all the data, settings, configurations, and installed software would be exactly the same. This term can be loosely intermixed with copying, backing up, etc., but it can get confusing fast. I use the term clone to differentiate from backing up, as you can back up your data without backing up your entire system.......so backing up is more nebulous to me without further explanation.

    A backup could be a full clone - "I backed up my entire system by copying it to an FireWire drive with SuperDuper."

    But a backup could be as simple as dragging your most important info to a differnt folder, a different drive, uploading to web site or burning to disk - "I backed up my pictures by exporting them to a DVD."

    The term clone should always mean a complete, bootable copy of an entire system.



    PS: Yeah, at my work we have an office in London, so I have the time difference hard wired in my brain.....even have a widget clock set up for it. Cheers!
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

  6. #6
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    Thumbs up

    Thanks Unc for the elaboration.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    No worries.

    Ah, I forgot....cloning is copying. So why not just call it copying?

    There is a bunch of important things that happen behind the scenes during the process of copying an OS to make it bootable after the process. You can't drag-copy OS X and have it bootable. All of the data is there, and all of the OS is there, but it will never boot.

    This bootable copy process is generally referred to as cloning. So says me.
    "Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining." -- Jef Raskin

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