It's that time of year again. That time that I have to remind my readers that they are about to install a "major" update to their operating system and things are gonna break! I don't think that there has been a major operating system update in the history of operating systems that hasn't broken something. We've got too many apps and too many peripherals to know what's gonna break and what's not. I was reminded of this by reading all the 1 Star (mostly 5 star reviews overall) of Lion on the Mac App Store. 90% of the 1 star ratings were from users complaining that their PowerPC Apps didn't work anymore or that some other 3rd party app/driver didn't work. Even if something does have a bug, you have no way of knowing whether or not the bug is a major bug for YOU until you see for yourself. Also this (Mac OS X 10.7 Lion) leaves behind your Power PC Apps. While many of you have probably moved on and are running the "latest" versions of all your Apps, there are little things that may still use PowerPC code that you're not even thinking of that simply won't work anymore in Lion and again you won't know until you try it.
Test Lion Before You Install It
Over the past few years I've taken the approach of "testing" a major operating system BEFORE committing to it on my main computers and there's actually a pretty painless way to do this. It's called installing Lion on a Clone Backup of your Mac. Hard Drives are dirt cheap these days and it's worth the investment to get an extra one to use for OS testing. Here's how it works:
1. Buy a large external hard drive (at least the same size as your internal drive or larger).
2. Download SuperDuper!
3. Create a Clone backup of your entire internal boot drive using SuperDuper! onto the new hard drive.
4. Boot from that new clone backup to make sure it works. All your stuff should be there including all your apps and documents.
5. Install Lion on this backup drive and boot from it with Lion installed.
Now run it for a few days (weeks, months or whatever you need) to make sure that EVERYTHING works the way you want it to.
After your testing is over you'll have an easy choice to make. If everything works as you need it too, then you can feel free to (backup your drive again) install Lion on your internal drive. If all hell broke loose and things aren't working or you'll need major updates before things work the way you want them to, then no worries. You can swtich back to your internal drive running Snow Leopard and upgrade to Lion at another time or not. The only other thing to remember is that if you create a bunch of documents or changes while booted in the clone, you'll need to transfer those back to the internal drive.