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Preparing for a Leopard Installation

TMO Quick Tip - Preparing for a Leopard Installation

by , 7:30 AM EDT, October 24th, 2007

The official release of Mac OS X 10.5, or Leopard, is only a couple of days away, so it's time to start thinking about what to do before installing Apple's latest operating system. Here is a quick checklist of things to keep in mind when you are getting ready to perform your own installation.

Mac OS X 10.5

System Specifications
Before running out and buying your own copy of Leopard, make sure your Mac meets the minimum system requirements. Here's what Apple says you need:

  • A Mac with a 867MHz G4 processor, G5 processor, or Intel processor
  • At least 512MB RAM
  • 9GB of free hard drive space
  • A DVD drive for installation

Time Machine
If you plan on using Leopard's Time Machine feature to backup the data on your Mac, be sure you have an extra hard drive -- it's a requirement. Apple states you'll need an external drive, or you can backup to another Mac running Leopard. If you go with an external drive, keep in mind that FireWire tends to be much faster than USB at transferring data.

Backup Before You Begin
Make sure you have a good backup of your important data before installing Leopard just in case something goes wrong. If you already have a solid backup system in place, great. If not, Carbon Copy Cloner can make an exact copy of your Mac's hard drive on another disk.

Cloning your hard drive before installing Leopard isn't a bad idea because you never know when something might go horribly wrong. Not that anything is likely to go wrong during your installation, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

With a clone of your drive, you can restore back to the state your drive was in before the upgrade -- a handy bonus if you need to roll back to a pre-Leopard state for some reason.

Choose Your Upgrade Method
Apple states that you can simply install Mac OS X 10.5 on top of your current system, restart, and go on your merry way. If your Mac OS X installation is already having problems, or you have installed lots of hacks, you might want to consider a different installation method.

  • Archive and Install This method archives your current operating system installation and replaces it with a fresh version. All of your users and applications are left intact. Applications that add components at the system level, however, may need to be reinstalled.
  • Erase and Install This method completely erases your hard drive including all of your files and applications. When if finishes, you have a fresh operating system, but not much else. You will have to reinstall your applications and data files. If you cloned your original hard drive, you can use Apple's Migration Assistant application to restore your users, data, and applications.

Check for Application Compatibility
Upgrading to Leopard won't do you much good if your applications won't be able to run on the new operating system. Several companies have already confirmed that their applications are Leopard compatible, or will be soon. Check TMO's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Special Report, or contact the software developer to see if your critical apps will still work.

Leopard promises to offer some great new features to Mac users. It looks like Apple planned ahead when developing its new operating system, and a little planning on your part will make the upgrade go a lot smoother.

Jeff Gamet is TMO's Morning Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

if you have tips or tricks to share, or Mac-related questions you want answered.

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