Don't Upgrade to Yosemite or iOS 8.1 Before You Read This Column

Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves
Episode #94


This has been a big week for Apple operating system upgrades: Mac OS X 10.10 Yosemite arrived last Thursday and iOS 8.1 came out yesterday. But as eager as you may be to sample their improvements, don’t install either until you read what I have to say.

First things first: Apple hates when I write a column like this one, but I write one like it pretty much every year for some operating system upgrade, or in this case, two operating system upgrades. Why? Because I work for you, gentle reader, not for Apple.

Here’s the thing: Upgrading your operating system is like performing brain surgery without anesthetic. Worse, OS upgrades are often a one-way street. While it’s possible to revert to Mavericks (OS X 10.9) after installing Yosemite (OS X 10.10), it’s not trivial. iOS is worse — there’s just no turning back. If an iOS upgrade breaks your favorite app, you’re stuck until Apple or the developer push out an update.

So I encourage you to wait a week or two before you pull the trigger on any operating system upgrade. Do you really have to be the first one on your block running a new OS release? While most such upgrades go smoothly most of the time, you’re much more likely to encounter unpleasant surprises when you install the first release (also known as the “point zero” release) of a new operating system. Yes, I know iOS is up to version 8.1, and while I think it’s less likely to break stuff than the short-lived 8.0 and 8.01 releases, I still think you’d be better off waiting since there’s no going back after an iOS upgrade.

With Mac OS X it’s a little better, since you can revert to the previous version as long as you’ve made a bootable clone (duplicate) of your startup disk before you upgraded. I’ve been very happy with the new Carbon Copy Cloner 4 (; $39.99), which works with Yosemite and, in addition to creating bootable clones, it can also recreate the Recovery HD partition on the clone. While you’ll need a second hard disk for cloning, it’s worth it to know that in the event of something going haywire, you can just plug in the clone, reboot from it, and be back at work in 5 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that Apple’s quality control is lacking. Considering the massive numbers of users Apple has, I think they generally do an excellent job and most users have no issues after an OS X or iOS upgrade. That being said, my experience has been that some people have some issues with every single point zero release I can recall. If you depend on your Macs (or iDevices) to earn a living, a post-upgrade snafu could cost you hours or days of productivity.

That's My Job

I installed Yosemite and iOS 8.1 within minutes of their release, ‘cause that’s my job. And while I haven’t encountered any deal-breakers in iOS 8 so far, my upgrade to Yosemite has been a little sketchy. For example, Dropbox has always been well-behaved, but it crashes regularly under Yosemite. And many other apps that never crashed in Mavericks are crashing for no apparent reason in Yosemite.

Here are just some of the error messages I’ve seen since installing Yosemite last Thursday
(Click for a larger image)

I actually like OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1. A lot. But if I didn’t do what I do for a living, I’d still be running Mavericks and iOS 8.0.2, scouring the web for information that would help me determine the right time to pull the trigger. One site I you should definitely visit is RoaringApps, where you’ll find a crowd-sourced application compatibility database with information on over 6,000 apps with OS X versions 10.6 (Snow Leopard) to 10.10 (Yosemite) as well as iOS 5, 6, 7, and 8. It’s not infallible but it’s a good place to start if you have an app (or apps) you rely on and want to know if they’ll work after you upgrade. It’s especially important to search the web for problems with iOS apps you depend on, since iOS updates occasionally break third-party apps.

Anyway, I hope you’ll do as I say and not as I do. I installed both OS upgrades within minutes of their release, and suffered no grave consequences (at least not this time). But it’s my job, and even if it weren’t, I’m a geek and I’d probably do it anyway, just for the thrill of it.

You, on the other hand, should probably think about whether you really need that iOS or OS X upgrade today. And if you do, make sure you have time to troubleshoot if something goes wrong.

And that’s all he wrote…