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Question: Help with backup and upgrade plan for old imac

I have an imac 2011 and I need some advice before I start overhauling the whole thing. Please don't give me grief about this but right now it's still running Lion. For years everything ran perfect until recently I started getting signs of problems- mostly my apps were quitting unexpectedly or freezing. Adobe apps, apple mail, you name it. I hadn't updated or installed anything new so I don't know why things changed. Also, the finder has some issues like will not find files in spotlight anymore. I'm not seeing total signs that the drive is failing, and usually a restart will get things working again. But something is surely wrong. I'm hoping I can fix whatever it is with some repair and OS upgrade. I bought a new external drive and tried making a time machine backup. The backup fails every time and says it can't copy files. I'm going to try reformatting that drive and trying again. If I can't get time machine to work, I may just try manually copying my user folder to another drive. At this point, I know I'm not going to want to go back to this old OS so I'm not sure what the point is of backing it all up. I plan to update my subscription based apps as well. Will saving the User folder allow me to migrate data from mail, iphoto, etc. to the new OS? After I get a backup, I plan to run disk utility to check everything. After that I want to install new memory and begin the update which has to go first to El Capitan. Not sure if I should just stop there or if there's any benefit for Sierra or High Sierra. Should I just do the normal upgrade process and hope for the best, or should I actually erase/clean install the new OS? Any advice on this is greatly appreciated.

iMac, Mac OS X (10.7.5)

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Mar 9, 2018 2:03 PM in response to livininfl In response to livininfl

Another option is cloning the Internal Drive to the External Drive using Disk Utility-Restore, CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.


That way, not only do you have a bootable clone to startup from, but you also have all of your data.


Also noting that, you will want to pre-format the External Drive "GUID Partition Mac" and "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" before you use Time Machine, Disk Utility-Restore, CarbonCopyCloner or Super Duper to create a backup.

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Mar 9, 2018 2:04 PM in response to livininfl In response to livininfl

The reason I suggest trying it with a clean install of the OS, is to see if it is related to any third party software, extensions, or other corruption on your hard drive. Cloning the OS is another way to make a backup. You can use a cloning software like SuperDuper! or CarbonCopy Cloner. But cloning the entire drive to an external will also clone over any corruption in your internal drive, so that wouldn't be a good test.

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Mar 9, 2018 10:51 AM in response to macjack In response to macjack

Thanks for the tip, but I'm not having issues booting up or anything like that. The problems with the apps quitting happen at random times, so it's hard to replicate the situation. But, if things go haywire after the upgrade I will try that. Would installing a new OS "fix" issues with bad permissions, preferences, etc? Any reason to totally erase my HD before doing so or is that a bad idea?

Mar 9, 2018 10:51 AM

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Mar 9, 2018 2:03 PM in response to livininfl In response to livininfl

Another option is cloning the Internal Drive to the External Drive using Disk Utility-Restore, CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper.


That way, not only do you have a bootable clone to startup from, but you also have all of your data.


Also noting that, you will want to pre-format the External Drive "GUID Partition Mac" and "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" before you use Time Machine, Disk Utility-Restore, CarbonCopyCloner or Super Duper to create a backup.

Mar 9, 2018 2:03 PM

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Mar 9, 2018 2:04 PM in response to livininfl In response to livininfl

The reason I suggest trying it with a clean install of the OS, is to see if it is related to any third party software, extensions, or other corruption on your hard drive. Cloning the OS is another way to make a backup. You can use a cloning software like SuperDuper! or CarbonCopy Cloner. But cloning the entire drive to an external will also clone over any corruption in your internal drive, so that wouldn't be a good test.

Mar 9, 2018 2:04 PM

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Mar 9, 2018 2:21 PM in response to macjack In response to macjack

Yes, I want to avoid carrying over any corruption to the new OS. Is there any real benefit to using Time Machine to make the backup vs. say SuperDuper? Mostly I want to be able to recover my personal data files in the event something goes wrong, I'm not as concerned about my system software and apps since they need to be updated anyway.

Mar 9, 2018 2:21 PM

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Mar 9, 2018 2:29 PM in response to livininfl In response to livininfl

Cloning is an excellent backup. Unlike Time Machine, you can drag and drop files with the clone because it is the identical file structure on your primary drive. The files you'll want are those inside your Home folder (Desktop, Documents, Movies, Pictures, etc) I would avoid the Library folder as that could have corrupt data.

Mar 9, 2018 2:29 PM

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Question: Help with backup and upgrade plan for old imac