So, everyone wants to know if it’s safe to upgrade to Apple’s latest Mac OS called High Sierra. The quick answer is: NO.
A few have been tempted due to updates to other software stated they were compatible with High Sierra. However, just being compatible doesn’t mean it requires it.
High Sierra offers some nice promises, especially regarding speed improvements for Finder. They even show a video of a file being copied that takes seconds instead of minutes on older systems. The key to this is a new format for the drives used in Macs. Since the 1990’s, Apple has used HFS+ for their drives. High Sierra now uses the Apple File System (APFS) which is designed for the larger drives and is optimized for speed and stability.
The hype is great and it is real, but there’s something lurking around the corner that should keep you from being tempted to upgrade. If you were to upgrade and your hard drive were to experience any problems, we currently have very few tools to fix those problems. We’re talking about the possibility of losing files permanently, so we’re not taking this lightly. One of the main tools we use cannot help at all. Many of the utilities that would be useful in these instances aren’t ready for High Sierra.
You would think that after over four (4) months of High Sierra’s debut that the utilities would have caught up by now. Usually they are caught up within days or weeks, not months. So what makes this update different and why are the utilities so far behind? Blame Apple. While APFS is great when it works, Apple hasn’t released the final specifications for the new format. Utility companies rely on those specifications to make sure they don’t do something that could actually screw the drive up. Losing your files or making your drive unusable isn’t an option, but without the final specs from Apple, they are flying blind. MicroMat has recently updated their TechTool Pro utility, but even they mention that it has preliminary support for APFS, not full support. They say they will add more features to the utility as they are given more information from Apple.
What’s frustrating here is that Apple has released something that is essential to the Mac without telling everyone how it really works. We have the basics, but the devil here is in the details. You miss a detail or make an improper assumption and you just did the opposite of what you intended to do. This is just unacceptable. There is also the worry that since Apple is apparently in no hurry to release the specs, that we might not have a viable option for repairing High Sierra/APFS drives until after Apple’s next Mac OS update, sometime in September of this year.
So, what are the options here?
Well, the first one is to stay at Sierra. Apple is still supporting Sierra with security updates and the like. Just about every piece of software out there supports Sierra as well. While you might not get the same speed punch from the drive as High Sierra, this seems to be a very small percentage of use that’s even noticeable by the average user. I haven’t had a single person complain about Sierra’s speed in Finder and that’s the only place it really get’s affected.
The second option is to upgrade and protect yourself with Time Machine. This is something recommend anyways, but Time Machine is your best friend, period. If High Sierra were to start acting up, you could simply recover to a point in time when the problem wasn’t happening and let Time Machine restore it for you. If the drive itself was damaged and needed to be replaced, Time Machine would have all your files protected already, so you wouldn’t lose anything.
Either option works, but even if you choose the first option, I’m still going to suggest you have a Time Machine backup working on your computer anyways. It’s saved more than one client and it’s always the most inconvenient times when the computer acts up. It never seems to happen when there are no deadlines and plenty of time to deal with it.
As always, if you have any questions at all, call us at 469.9091190. It’s free and we can save you thousands.
specializing in integration and troubleshooting for printers, ad agencies and designers on the Macintosh platform.