4 reasons NOT to upgrade to Snow Leopard today

4 reasons NOT to upgrade to Snow Leopard today

Summary: Upgrading to a new dot release of Mac OS X is almost a no-brainer. They typically offer better security, more stability and - maybe - new features. But Snow Leopard is a very different beast than Leopard. If you make money with your Mac, make haste slowly.

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TOPICS: Apple, Hardware
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Upgrading to a new dot release of Mac OS X is almost a no-brainer. The dot releases typically offer better security, more stability and -- maybe -- a few new features. Apple's record of high quality dot releases means that for most users when Software Update says there are updates, you do.

But Snow Leopard isn't like that. Under the hood it is a very different beast than the Leopard version of Mac OS 10. If you make money with your Mac, make haste slowly.

4 reasons not to upgrade to Snow Leopard today:

1. You have a PowerPC Mac. Snow Leopard won't run on PowerPC-based Macs. Apple claims 80% of Mac users are running on Intel today. If true most of the remaining 20% live in my town.

Two friends, a filmmaker and a photographer, make their living off their PowerPC based Macs -- one of which is 8 years old -- and they don't see a reason to change. And I don't blame them.

2. You are in the middle of the project. Why tempt fate? While Snow Leopard has great technology under the hood and some nifty interface tweaks it isn't a game changer for day-to-day work.

Chances are good you won't have any problems updating the Snow Leopard. But if you make money on your Mac wait until you have some free time to upgrade and check out Snow Leopards new capabilities.

3. You run your office on the Mac. I love my Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M scanner but the scanner driver doesn't love Snow Leopard. I could probably get along with the manual workaround outlined on the Fujitsu website, but Snow Leopard isn't compelling enough to make it worth the trouble.

The ScanSnap is just one piece of equipment. I haven't had any problems with my Wacom tablet or my HD camcorder. But if you use low-volume USB accessories - or an old printer - go to the vendor's website and check driver compatibility.

4. You use RAID storage. I've been testing the Apricorn PCIe raid array. When I installed Snow Leopard the OS noted that that driver for the array was not compatible and put it in a special folder. Fine.

But there were two problems with that. First, and most obvious, the array was no longer available. I'd guessed that and wasn't concerned. But the second problem was more serious. The array driver kept causing kernel panics.

A kernel panic on a Mac causes a gray window shade to descend on your display with a note in 5 languages that says reboot your system. Everything stops.

It isn't pretty.

Take precautions. That last problem FUBAR'd my system. So I decided to reinstall Leopard.

It wasn't simple. I did a clean system install and used Migration Assistant to migrate my data back from my daily bootable disk clone - which saved my bacon.

One key problem: Snow Leopard's Mail updates your mail folders to a new format. It isn't backward compatible with Leopard Mail. If you don't have a 10.5 copy you are hosed.

Protect your data. If you earn your living on a Mac there are 2 precautions to take before upgrading to Snow Leopard. True, 99% of the time you won't have a problem. But if you do you'll be glad you did these two things. I was.

Time Machine should be enabled. Time Machine is Apple's cool backup tool that snapshots your system every hour to an external disk. Best to have at several days of snapshots on your Time machine backup disk.

Make a clone of your system disk just prior to the upgrade. Either Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper will do it and both are free for casual use.

If the upgrade burps you'll be able to do a clean install of Leopard and use Migration Assistant to restore files, folders, network settings and other preferences.

The Storage Bits take Apple has compiled an enviable record of trouble-free operating system updates, especially in the dot releases. While the huge majority of Leopard users have encountered no problems upgrading to Snow Leopard, if you rely on your Mac to make your living you should take precautions before the upgrade.

My data protection plan includes three backup systems: hourly Time Machine snapshots; a daily disc clone: and remote online backup. I used 2 of them to recover from the failed upgrade.

I almost never use them but this weekend I needed both to finish a project. Most of Snow Leopard's enhancements are keyed to developers not end-users. There is no reason to rush to upgrade.

And every reason to protect your data.

Comments welcome, of course.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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54 comments
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  • AV software is not compatible.

    For companies and universities that use NAC, there are
    little to no AV products that are compatible. Prior to
    SnowLeopard, there were McAfee and Symantec/Norton.
    Right now about nothing works, screwing the NAC policies
    for folks.

    Oh wait, Mac's dont get viruses. LOL Keep thinking that
    fanbois.
    unredeemed
    • No, they don't

      Unless you have special rights, physical access, or problems with PEBCAK, Macs don't get viruses.
      rag2
    • You need to take a better look

      Maybe you were not up to date. After the upgrade everything still worked on my system - antivirus included.
      kokuryu
  • Scanner - try VueScan

    Robin,
    Try using VueScan to control your scanner.
    I have found it to the best software for scanners under Mac OS X.
    ,dave
    davebarnes
  • why would anyone upgrade to .0 OS

    I learned the hard way never upgrade before.3 rolls.
    tech_walker
    • We're on 6.1

      We're already on 6.1 (yeah it was 6.0 - now it's 6.1, so we're not at the
      dreaded .0 anymore)
      jeremychappell
  • Backing up your system

    You don't need Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper any more,
    I believe. Disk Utility makes a nice image now, and has a
    Restore function.
    keel
  • But but but... it "just works"

    Haven't you seen the commercials?
    trance2tec
    • Time Machine

      I just popped the DVD in the drive and upgraded. Simple. I did
      disconnect the Time Machine drive (just in case something went pear
      shaped). But no it's fine, everything works (just?!) and for me it's all
      good.

      Yeah, I DO run my office on Mac OS X, but I guess having Time Machine
      (and having used it to do a restore - rehearsal, didn't need it but wanted
      to test it if I was going to start relying on it) makes you feel much more
      confident.
      jeremychappell
    • funny but sad

      Seems the way of the world now, lie enough and people buy into it.

      Now about those "death panels"...
      ktw.zd.net
    • But but but... you "just don't care". So why reply?

      Microsoft won't get the money in place of Apple. Microsoft is a lying, cheating, stealing, predatory monopolist company.
      No More Microsoft Software Ever!
      • All Companies Want to Be Described That Way

        Microsoft just succeeded.

        That's the job of all companies. Comes with the territory.

        Grow up someday. Get a job.
        PMC-CON
  • Those reason

    Those reason applied if you upgrade to any OS.

    I don't want to upgrade to Windows 7 because my Thinkpad X30 is using P3-800.
    I don't want to upgrade my OS if I'm in the critical project.
    I don't think my Outlook Express (XP) can read Windows Mail (Vista) data.
    Everytime you change your OS you need to set your printer, scanner, etc.

    Don't upgrade your OS, unless you have to upgrade or have time to spare.
    Voltus
    • Yes, and?

      (given his posting history) I really don't
      think Robin was knocking Snow Leopard or
      comparing in unfavorably to another OS.

      Robin simply offered a few pieces of sound
      advice.

      Snow Leopard offers a few advantages over
      Leopard (and Tiger). The "under the hood"
      improvements will not be realized until SL runs
      on new hardware <i>and</i> with new software
      which can take advantage of it.

      If you are strained for disk space or
      <i>really</i> like the Expose' integration with
      the dock, by all means go for it.

      What Robin says is that if your business depend
      on it, those reasons may not be enough,
      <i>yet</i>.
      honeymonster
      • What do you mean by new hardware?

        I purchased the very latest iMac top of the line model including the
        better video option and 8 gigs of ram. is that considered new hardware
        or are we talking about something in the future?

        Pagan jim
        James Quinn
        • You are covered.

          Maybe I should post on this, but the basics are that Snow Leopard
          adds some long-term important technology that makes it easier for
          developers to use the incredible processing power of multi-core and
          graphics processors.

          Naturally, the developers have to tweak the programs to use the Snow
          Leopard additions, so this won't happen overnight. But I expect Good
          Things from compute, video and graphics intensive apps, starting in a
          few months.

          Stay tuned.

          Robin
          R Harris
  • Now if this was a MS release...

    So 20% of Mac users cannot upgrade due to old hardware. Of the 80% that can what percentage will have an issue as a result of old software, hardware, drivers etc? Let's be generous and say 5%. So 24% of all Mac users can not upgrade to the latest OS. If this was a MS release, ala Vista, the uproar would be quite significant. I am an Apple fan but I think this shows how far ahead MS is in the OS business.
    Nihon8888
    • On the other hand...

      less than 20% of Windows users have migrated to Vista [b]3 years[/b]
      after its release to volume licensing.

      Users of PowerPC Macs can make their own decision as to whether it's
      worth their while to upgrade both hardware and software. They aren't
      forced to, there's nothing particularly compelling for them in OS X 10.6
      anyway so they may as well wait a little while and pick up a cheap copy of
      10.5 on eBay for maybe $50.
      Fred Fredrickson
      • There's a difference between "can" and "do"

        I'm not a Mac guy, so I've always been a little confused by the .x upgrades. It seems to me that if a upgrade to the OS is so different as to eliminate support for a long time support CPU, that it should have been a x. version increment. That would however then make is OSXI, which still could be marketable with the I being Intel.
        Realvdude
        • I can see the logic in that...

          Think of this as version 7, with the .1 as a service pack.

          10.[b]0[/b] Cheetah
          10.[b]1[/b] Puma
          10.[b]2[/b] Jaguar
          10.[b]3[/b] Panther et c.
          UsernameRequired