Apple High Sierra – Halt! Stop!

Don’t be seduced by the picturesque North American Autumn vista, promising wide-open spaces to roam, and create.  As with all major operating system (OS) releases it is better to be among the safer wait-and-see crowd than to take your chances on the bleeding edge with those who click ‘upgrade’ straight away.

Your Upgrade Timetable

A sensible approach might be to wait six to nine months before upgrading a production machine, or a home computer used for important personal tasks. A home machine that is just used for light web surfing and email perhaps waiting two or three months may be appropriate.  Certainly, the only computer that should get an upgrade before then, is one that is a spare test machine.  So if you have a compatible computer that you can erase, and which has no data you want to keep, you might like to use it to test High Sierra sooner.

Why be So Cautious?

The MacOS has matured to now with more than twelve major iterations since the initial release of Mac OS X 10.0 on March 24, 2001. The just superseded version is MacOS Sierra 10.12.6. With so many upgrades under Apple’s belt, why proceed cautiously with this one?  Well, this OS release focuses on ‘under the hood’ improvements rather than visible features, and one of the fundamental changes with High Sierra is the way that data is stored on your disk. Whether your computer has spinning hard drive or a solid-state flash drive the aim with High Sierra is that your data will be stored in a new, modern format called APFS (Apple File System), this contrasts with the older HFS+ (Hierarchical Files System plus) storage format currently on your Mac (Note that initially High Sierra only supports APFS on SSD storage, but eventually both hard drives and fusion configurations will be supported and moved to APFS).

Disk Format Change Implications

Yes, you could lose all your data!  Should major problems with APFS emerge, early after the release of High Sierra, you could have big data problems. While this is a very small and only remote possibility, the chances are not zero.  Apple with both their internal development teams and their wider developer community have been working with the pre-release of High Sierra for about three months now, so be assured significant testing has been completed already. Still, with a storage format change to APFS being so fundamental to the function of your computer, the prudent course would be to wait, at least a bit, before upgrading.

How to Upgrade

Should you decide, at the right time, to upgrade to High Sierra there are some great, detailed upgrade guides on the internet.  Just use your favourite search engine to locate one that suits you. However, here is a brief list of tasks you should consider when upgrading:

1) Make Two backups of both your startup disk and data

2) Check your disk for errors (Apple’s Disk Utility at the minimum can help here)

3) Upgrade All your Software to the latest versions and

4) Check compatibility of your essential productivity software

For example, if you use Office 2011 then it might be worth noting that it is ‘unsupported’ on MacOS High Sierra.

High Sierra promises some great upgrades both under the hood and to some of the most popular included Apple Apps.  While it promises to provide a great platform for the future with new and enhanced technologies like APFS, a cautious approach to the timing of your upgrade is prudent.  

Alternatively, if you’d like some help from Team Digital we can offer Tech Support services to help you in the transition to High Sierra, when the time is right.

So, resist the urge to click on that lovey MacOS High Sierra banner, teasing you in the App Store, and instead plan your upgrades, at least on production computers.  Delay them for a later time, when others have endured the pain of blazing the trail and your experience can be like travelling a highway.

Talk to one of our Apple specialists for advice about your needs.