Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Apple has started to push MacOS Sonoma to compatible Macs and MacBooks, and there's a massive temptation to throw caution to the wind and smash that Upgrade Now button.
While this is exactly what most people will do, I like to take a more cautious approach because I've come across people who have lost data, or who have been frustrated by crashes, instabilities, and other hassles following an upgrade.
Here are the things I'll be doing before hitting that oh-so-tempting Upgrade Now button!
1. Update all the applications
And I mean everything.
From the stuff that I've downloaded from the Apple App Store (to do this, click on the Apple icon in the menu bar, then App Store, and then click on Updates), to things like Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud suite (these will have their own update procedures).
The number one cause of crashes and instabilities following a MacOS upgrade is running outdated apps.
2. Back it up!
Make sure you have a backup or two, just in case things go wrong.
My preference is to have a local backup using Time Machine (click on System Settings and then General, followed by Time Machine), or a third-party app like Carbon Copy Cloner, and an off-site cloud backup using a service like Backblaze.
Think you don't need to do this? I want you to imagine that all the data on your Mac is gone. If that feeling gives you chills, you need a backup.
And if you really don't care about what's on your Mac, then a way to give your Mac a full refresh might be to wipe it and reload MacOS from scratch, getting rid of all the detritus that's accumulated over the months and years.
3. Gather your passwords
You'll need your iCloud password, and having the password for your Time Machine backup (if you make an encrypted backup) or your online cloud backup provider is a really good idea.
4. Charge your Mac
If you have a MacBook, make sure that the battery is charged up and the system is also on AC power while carrying out the update.
For Macs, don't update if the power seems flakey, or make sure you have backup power in the form of a power station or UPS (uninterruptible power supply) that can keep your system powered during the update.
5. Ensure you have a good internet connection
MacOS Sonoma is about 6.5GB so you need to have a decent internet connection to handle this sort of download.
6. Set aside enough time
Don't update if you're short on time, or you're heading out the door. You need a good couple of hours, and possibly more if things go wrong.