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One of the burning topics covered this past MacGroup-Detroit meeting was doing a clean-install of your OS.


A clean-install has gained popularity for several reasons.

Though, for some, there’s still an air of concern regarding “losing something” or screwing up.

What can a Clean-install accomplish?

Pre Clean no longer works

  • A clean-install can clear your system of applications that can no longer run on your computer. I’m sure that with system upgrades, you’ve seen that universal “No” icon covering some of your apps. This means that the app is obsolete for your OS. Best choices are to upgrade to the latest version of the software that is compatible with your OS. If that isn’t an option, delete this app entirely. It’s just taking up valuable hard drive space.


  • A clean-install can clear your system of data files used by applications that no longer reside on your computer. You don’t keep every app you install or download, but your computer may still have that apps preference file, or more, lingering around. If you are afraid to dive into your Preference folder to delete obsolete files, then a clean-install is tailor-made for you.Pre Clean Migration
  • If you’ve migrated your OS over (and over and over) as you’ve upgraded to a new and better computer, you have outdated content that flowed over with those migrations that are gunking up the internal processes and causing your machine to run slower than it should. Or better said, not as fast as it could. This is an experience I gained first hand. EVERYTHING ran so much faster on my computer after my first clean-install in years. I was happily surprised.

Some consider this a daunting task, making the decision to just migrate over that much easier. Or, the ever-present reason of “It’s just inconvenient right now.”


So, how do you make it easier and convenient? 

What are some of the things you might do before you take on the task of doing a clean-install, to make the task a faster and welcome one?


Prepare Yourself

Don’t just rush into it. Apply some thought and prepare.
Where do you begin?

  • Backup, Backup, Backup!
  • Did I mention to Backup?

That’s where you begin.

If you don’t have them, purchase two external drives with a capacity greater than the capacity of your computers internal drive. If you don’t have it, purchase Super Duper! by Shirt Pocket. It’s the best $30 you could ever spend for peace of mind.

Pre Clean External Drives


Pre Clean SupDup

Why two?

  1. You are making a complete bootable copy of your computers content before the clean-install, that you can then access and boot from at anytime. Great. Restart with this new clone as your startup drive, to make sure that it works. After confirming, then put this external drive aside. This is your security blanket.
  2.  With the second external drive, use this to do backups going forward from your newly clean-installed computer. This way you’ll have a “current backup” and a “before clean-install backup.” More security.
  3.  If you are really proactive, you’ll have a third external drive that hosts a Time Machine backup. Even more security.

Now, you should feel very safer, that in the event you “forgot something”, it’s right there on the backup drive.


Other Thoughts

Gather all IDs and serial numbers of your apps.
If you don’t have them in a dedicated app or file, create one.

Make note to deactivate and/or unauthorized apps that require it when the time comes to clean-install.
Like Adobe apps, iTunes, etc.

Review your computer apps.
 Some of your apps were downloaded from the internet. Some were installed by disc. Are those downloads and discs still available?

Available Software
Is the software version you are using specific to your present needs, and the latest software version not? In which case you need that specific version; is it available? Or can you just wipe that version away with the clean-install and download the latest version from the developers website?

Some apps you may not care about at all.
If you haven’t used them in months or even years, chances are that you won’t miss them.

These are some of the things to consider as you make your way to doing a clean-install of your computer OS and apps.

Keep in mind that this process will take some time.

So, if you’re on a deadline to get a project done, or anything that would rush you, hold off until you can dedicate time specifically to this.

Just remember to backup first.

Anyone care to add any more tips about things to do prior to a clean-install of your OS?




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One Response to Pre Clean-Install

  1. Linda King says:

    Thank you for more great advice Chita! You are a wealth of information.