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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

OS 10.6 - Snow Leopard Clean Install

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anfieldgirl's Avatar
Member Since: Sep 23, 2009
Posts: 7
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Hey guys,

I'm planning to do a clean install soon and I just want to make sure I get this right. I just have some questions to ask.

1. When I create the backup file, I'm going to be placing my files on a iPod (I don't have an actual hard drive). So I'm planning to copy the following, I just have some questions.
- Documents
- Pictures
- Movies
- Applications (will the applications work when I move them back?)
- Library (is this essential?)
- System (is this essential?)

2. After the backup, do I just put the disk in and click "Erase and Install" and wait?

3. Once its done I place the files back?

Please do reply, your comments will really be appreciated.

Thank You!
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nabl's Avatar
Member Since: Dec 13, 2007
Location: United States of America
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1. Documents, Pictures, and Movies will be fine to copy as you’re saying. As for applications, it depends. I wouldn’t copy back the applications that are included (Safari, iTunes, iLife, Utilities, etc.). Some others might work, depending on how you installed them. (If it was just a disk image or archive that allowed you to drag the application to your Applications folder, it should work.) However, I would recommend downloading or reinstalling as many of the third party applications as possible rather than simply copying them over. Specifically, you’ll have to reinstall things like iWork, Microsoft Office: Mac, or Adobe Creative Suite software from the original discs.

There are two Library folders. I would recommend not copying the system Library folder (in Macintosh HD) back after the installation. However, if you want to keep some specific application settings from your user Library folder (in your Home folder), that might be doable. Don’t copy the entire folder back, though—only the specific files that you want to keep. For example, maybe just keep the Application Support folder and be careful even at that. Wait to hear from someone else on this one, though, if you decide to do it; I’m not exactly sure.

Overall, I’d try to avoid messing with either Library folder if possible; instead, export as much information as possible that you want to keep. For example, in Mail, choose Mailbox → Archive Mailbox and then you can choose File → Import Mailboxes after the installation. You can similarly export and import bookmarks in Safari, contacts in Address Book, and so on. Just open the application that contains information you want to back up and search in the help menu for “archive” or “export”; one of those will usually find the steps to archiving that application’s data.

Lastly, don’t copy back the System folder! That’s where the OS is installed, so you would be defeating the purpose and potentially ruining your fresh installation. Besides, you don’t have permission to modify the System folder anyway, so you’d have to do it from the command line with root access.

2. I believe they removed the Erase and Install option from the Snow Leopard Install Disk. What you might have to do instead is open Disk Utility from the Install Disc and choose to erase the drive (choosing your desired level of security—just know that zeroing out the drive or doing multiple passes will take a while).

3. Like I said in response to the first question, your Documents, Pictures, and Movies will be fine to simply copy back. However, be careful with the other three that you mentioned.
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I would delay any upgrade until you can do a FULL backup to an external hard drive.

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