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Reader Email: Why am I nervous about Apple upgrades and updates?

We get a lot of email, and some of it comes in the form of questions from readers. Now, while some of those questions may seem simple and easy to answer, it’s obvious that many readers are afraid to ask us the same questions! In this new “Reader Email” series, I’ll list some of the questions that we’ve received and answer them in the most straightforward terms possible.

Have an Apple-related question for me? Zap me an email and I’ll try to answer it to the best of my knowledge. All questions will remain anonymous. Here’s our first question:

Question: Why am I nervous about Apple upgrades and updates? In the past I had Macs that I’ve hosed up during upgrades, and now I always get nerves when it comes to doing a update or a upgrade,. I was wondering if you could explain to me in a easy way that I can understand: why do I still feel like that?

Answer: Don’t feel bad; the way that upgrades used to fail quite often, a lot of people got “burned” by doing upgrades and just hated to have to rebuild machines from scratch, usually losing some important data in the process. I know that I was that way for a while with Windows upgrades; I did one that totally trashed a machine by requiring me to do the upgrade three times, which overtaxed my old hard drive and destroyed it. I replaced the hard drive, only to find that the backup had missed a lot of important files. 

As for Macs, things have gotten a lot better. About ten years ago, I’d say your chances of having an OS upgrade (full number upgrade, like from 10.12.x to 10.13) fail were 1 in 10. Nowadays, it’s probably more like 1 in 250 or less. I make sure I have two local backups — one Time Machine backup and a separate Carbon Copy Cloner backup — and then run the upgrades without a worry. At least I know that if things get really goofed up, I can restore the OS from the Recovery Partition (which is relatively new) and then use one of my two backups to restore the machine. 

The best way to feel worry-free is to always make sure that you have at least two current backups. I actually have three; Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner on a pair of drives connected to my iMac, and a cloud backup of data to Backblaze. There’s seriously no way you’re going to lose your data in a case like that, regardless of how bad things get. I also try to plan my upgrades for a time where if something does go wrong, I know I will have the time to fix things before I need to use my Mac again. 

Finally, the best way to be prepared is to actually practice these things. I had a Mac mini for a while that I used for a lot of research for articles. I probably rebuilt that machine from scratch at least twice a month, so I got to the point that doing an upgrade or rebuilding a Mac was nothing to worry about. 

Hope this helps! 


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Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!