Chores to consider before and after upgrading to OS X Mountain Lion

Chores to consider before and after upgrading to OS X Mountain Lion

Summary: A prominent Mac storage developer recently pitched its software as the path to "a smooth upgrade to Apple's Mountain Lion." Whether or not one buys the program, the recommended list of chores — both before and after the OS upgrade — make sense, especially for the new SSD-only MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs.


The vendor in question is Prosoft Engineering, a longtime developer of storage and data recovery utilities for the Macintosh. The company offers Drive Genius, now in Version 3.0, a popular program for Mac storage professionals (along with the company's Data Rescue 3 for Mac). The package offers a number of modules to repartition, scan and monitor Mac storage volumes. The defragmentation module has been used for years at the Apple Store for the annual ProCare Tune Up, the company says. 

New in Version 3.0 are enhancements to defragmentation and partitioning routines; DrivePulse, a new drive monitoring and alert system; 64-bit and RAID volume support; e-mail notifications after long scans are completed; and new real-time bad-block scanning and extended read/write block verification.

Here are the steps suggested by Prosoft (and which are, of course, supported by Drive Genius:

Before installing Mountain Lion: Make a clone of your existing system; and then create a new partition to hold Mountain Lion, letting you boot into either OS.

After Installation: Remove unwanted and unnecessary files and duplicates; and then defragment the system. Of course, Prosoft suggests that users would want to use the new DrivePulse to set up notifications in case something starts to go south on the drive.

Now, it's best practice to create a clone of your entire system before installing any major piece of software in your workflow and especially before a systemware upgrade. I have a cron task running that makes a clone of my primary system on my MacBook Pro twice a day, mid-day and in the evening. This is to my external Thunderbolt RAID box. I also run Time Machine on the MBP's primary SSD (solid-state drive) and the internal hard drive.

Creating a new partition on the fly and installing Mountain Lion into it is also a good idea, if you have the extra capacity for it. Not all applications are ready for Mountain Lion, and I've found that no matter how much planning is done in advance, we really won't be sure of which application is critical to our workflows until we start working and discover the incompatible app.

I was intrigued by Prosoft's suggestion to use the DriveSlim tool, which provides a range of different scans, to search for and identify files you don't need. This would be especially useful for SSD users. The tool identifies very large files such as videos and tutorials for GarageBand or other programs; and it can search for duplicates, as well.

The tool also offers Language Slimming, which is a somewhat controversial subject. It is possible to remove a language that is used by the system or a program that you use. I asked Brian Bergstrand, Prosoft's lead engineer for Drive Genius, about this issue.

"DriveSlim tries to be smart about this [languages in localizations], it will never delete your primary language and it will never delete an app that only has a single language. In addition, you can configure DriveSlim to keep more than your primary language in the Options pane. Finally, there are some apps that break if their localizations are removed (for example, Microsoft and Adobe), so those are skipped," he said.

Next, Prosoft recommends defragging the drive with Drive Genius. OS X has its own routines for defragging as you use your drive and as you add files. The system tries to put files in places with more contiguous space, rather than the next available block. When you open a file that is very fragmented, OS X defragments it.

In addition, OS X employs "Hot File Adaptive Clustering," which tracks read-only files that are frequently requested and then moves them to a "Hot Zone." In the process of moving, the "hot" files are defragmented.

However, Bergstrand said that the Hot Zone in the file system is limited. "To be a "Hot File" candidate, the file has to be below 20MB and also be accessed frequently." Hence, his recommendation for the more-powerful defragging utility.

Take a look at the list of cautions offered by my colleague Jason O'Grady in his post Don't upgrade to OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion before reading this

As I've advised for every OS X (or Mac OS X and MacOS before it) over the past dozen or so years: what's the hurry? There's no reason to race into an upgrade and only trouble to your workflow without careful planning. Understanding all of the requirements of your software investment and its compatibility with the upgrade is essential.

And it's often best to wait for the dot maintenance update.

Topics: Apple, Laptops, Operating Systems, Software, Storage

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  • For crying out loud

    A full time machine backup IS a clone of your system that stays current by the hour.
    • So, you can boot up

      a Time machine drive? Can you then use it to create a new installation of the drives contents on your primary drive. I haven't ever bothered with Time Machine as it is impractical with large data files like VMs that change frequently.

      I do have Prosoft's Drive Genius and occasionally use it for defrag purposes but Apple's own Drive Utility works great for cloning your disk, which I do frequently to swap in new drives and back up working systems that can be pulled, booted and used in an emergency.
  • "Fat Binaries"

    If they recommend getting rid of libraries you don't need, then why not prune libraries and binaries of architectures you don't need as well?
  • 5 ways to skip Mountain Lion

    1. Stick with Lion but I really hope you made a backup of the install image because Apple decided that the installer should be deleted once you install it and they also decided that since Mountain Lion is now available, you shouldn't be allowed to download Lion any more.

    2. Go with desktop Linux. Certain people stake their reputation on Linux being much safer than OS X.

    3. Go with Windows. Windows 7 is the best selling OS of all time because it is the best OS of all time. Don't believe it is the best OS of all time? It must be, just look at the sales figures. Also, it costs more so that also proves it is better.

    4. Cloud based computing. Chromium looks great on a Mac.

    5. Windows 8 tablet. Take your Mac to the dump for a tablet that can do everything your Mac can do but better.

    * Thanks to SJVN for being the inspiration behind this post:
    • Another useless and boring diatribe brought

      to you from the bottom of the gene pool...

      So a non-existent tablet running Windows 7.1 can do more than my MacBook Pro running OS X and(simultaneously)/or(bootcamp) Win7? Really?

      I just hope that some one, some day gives me a Surface tablet. I'll bet it fetches upwards to $100 on ebay.
      • Apparently you missed where he wrote

        * Thanks to SJVN for being the inspiration behind this post:

        If you feel his post was useless and boring diatribe then his post did exactly what it was intended to do.
      • I figure I'll wait until, as with Lion, there won't BE any chores to do

        except download and install, make a bootable DVD back-up and do my usual clone back-up.
        Laraine Anne Barker
    • LOL!

      "Windows 7 is the best selling OS of all time because it is the best OS of all time. Don't believe it is the best OS of all time? It must be, just look at the sales figures"

      By this logic McDonald's has the best hamburgers because they've sold the most. Red Robin must be terrible.
    • useless

      i often read zdnet and EVERY time they say sth. about apple I see you commenting something useless criticizing apple. This is pointless and clogging the commentary section.

      Your post has nothing to do with the article....its just a sidekick against another article which has nothing to do with this article. Why are you doing this? There is really no broad criticism in this article against apple....and you are starting again.
  • 5 ways ---

    Hopefully satire .. Lemmings have rarely been right althugh there are a lot of them.

    And, no doubt most of the "kids" with their nose in their "smart" phone have little need for a "Production"machine. Man, like that means work!! Maybe even intelligence.
  • I won't be updating to Mountain Lion

    any time in the foreseeable future. I upgraded my secondary (slightly older) MBP to Lion and the only notable difference was the loss of several legacy apps that were important to my workflow. These apps have no path forward as their developers sold out to a larger company that wanted only to squelch competition.

    I can understand the motives to streamline an OS by removing legacy support but I don't necessarily need to follow along until there are visible and measurable performance/production gains to justify doing so. Ditto for W8...
    • Remember: It just works

      All your problems are in your mind. :-)
      • Remember the other meme too

        When an OS company releases an upgrade, everyone is forced to purchase that upgrade due to something called "being on a treadmill". This is especially noticeable with Microsoft that is known to release OS upgrades that force you to upgrade your 6 year old hardware because it is suddenly not compatible and they also stop supporting 2 year old versions of the OS.

        Oh wait, that isn't Microsoft that does that. Oops.
        • also useless

          like your point above this answer is useless and wrong. You are not forced. I am writing this in snow leopard. The features of Lion didn´t convinced me, so why should I? Everything just works...Probably I will upgrade to Mountain Lion, but because of the great features.
        • Whats about office 2013?

          Many depend on office...2013 only supports 7 and 8? Isn´t that some kind of forcing?