Are you ready for Yosemite?

With 10.10 just around the corner – here is our quick guide to what you might want to know.

Why go to Yosemite?

Each new OS add some features, many are visible (such as new iMessage, or iCould Drive); some are not (such as Grand Central Station support). Many features you may not see until your favourite app starts to support them. Sometimes you need to update to give support for a website you want to use (Netflix or iPlayer spring to mind as these have recently been upgraded; loosing support for many older browsers).

General advice is to make sure you are running up to date software (which means if you buy a new printer or some other hardware you should have no problems running it and all the latest security features and malware protection are then enabled). We always suggest caution moving as soon as new software is released – especially if you have a current project which may be affected by it (memorably we had a customer who was printing a book and moved to the new iWork which changed his fonts and changed the whole layout  two days before it was going to be printed!). This is especially true when moving more than one point release (i.e. from OS 10.7 -> 10.10 might change an awful lot with unexpected consequences).

Will it run on my Mac?

So far it appears to run in the same hardware as 10.9 (Mavericks) – nothing in any of the beta versions suggests otherwise. You can search our website by Serial number or Model ID and our pages will be updated as soon as we can after the final revision is shipped.

RAM; RAM; RAM.

Mavericks really liked at least 4GB of RAM – the min spec says 2GB – but from our testing and customer comments – 4GB was the min to prevent slow downs. We would recommend that you have at least 4GB.  Our model ID pages will give you an idea of the max RAM you can have fitted.

Clone? Time Machine? Dropbox? or burn off to DVD?

So, if you take away just one thing from this article; please let it be this. The Mantra which must rule any OS upgrade is Backup, Backup, Backup.

OS upgrades reveal issues with hardware like nothing else – they involve moving and removing many gigabytes of data – touching parts of the hard drive which may not have been used since it was in the factory, testing parts of the computer with new extensions and k.exts and new levels of encryption and security. We see a lot of hard drive failures coming in straight after an OS upgrade as the extra strain on a failing drive can sometimes be the final nail in its coffin.

The MacUpgrades preferred method is to clone your drive using the wonderful utility Carbon Copy Cloner. This gives you a bootable volume – so if it all goes wrong you can boot and be where you were before you upgraded.

Time machine has the disadvantage that, other than being told that your data is backed up  in the system preference, it is not tested until after the deed is done. We would probably never hear from customers for whom Time Machine worked perfectly; but we do hear from customers who have lost data because they thought it was backed up. Our advice is to double check you backup – try restoring a file or two to another volume, launch the Time Machine browser and check the backup dates.

An alternative (and rapidly growing in popularity with very fast home broadband helping) is to simply store all key documents in an online storage like Dropbox. This is great if you know where all of your important files are – just don’t forget things like iPhoto Library and eMail attachments folders.

Getting the best from your Mac for Yosemite.

To get the best from any Mac we recommend a couple of simple steps.

1) Make sure you have enough RAM to prevent slow downs.

2) Give your Mac the best speed boost you can – put an SSD in and use it as the Main OS and Apps drive. SSDs really do make a world of difference to the speed of a Mac – see some of our other posts for more detail; but to put it simply; you really do want an SSD.

Issues with TRIM.

TRIM is a standard which is used by some SSDs to clear out data from areas of the drive – usually when the system is idle. This is important since SSDs need to delete data before writing new data; otherwise they need to do it just before writing the data.

Several posts have reported drives with TRIM enabled appear to not work under Yosemite beta. Digging around this appears to be to do with the new security features in Yosemite – that is all kernel extensions need to be signed by recognised vendors and the previous way of enabling TRIM was a custom k.ext!

The advantages of TRIM seem to be limited; the benchmarks disagree between a small speed advantage and a smaller speed advantage.

Will my Apps all run OK?

Many developers do not announce if their pet project will run on a new OS until it is released (or at least left beta testing – a stage call Golden Master). Some will update their site with details – some are tested by users. A great site for checking is RoaringApps which lists from various sources to give you an answer.

The short, short conclusion is that Yosemite (10.10) will be another big step forward for Mac OS and will run on a lot of older Mac hardware without issue. Always make sure you have a backup before doing a big OS update and if you want the most from it, make sure you are running from as fast a hard drive as you can (preferably an SSD). If you want or need the new features and refinements then go for it; if you do not need them at the mo – as the old adage goes “if it ain’t broken; don’t fix it”