OSX Lion: Upgrade vs. Fresh Install

When it comes to operating system upgrades, I’m usually the guy that waits a month or so until everything gets sorted out before I jump in. Not a ‘wait-for-service-pack-1′ wait, more like ‘wait-for-the-first-updates’ wait. As much as I would like to be an early adopter on that stuff, there are still apps and other pieces that I rely on day-to-day to actually produce stuff, for which people give me money. So a short wait doesn’t usually kill me.

When it does come to upgrade, I’m also the guy that does the full install, from scratch. Format the hard drive, install the OS, reinstall all apps and restore all documents. After working technical support for a few years and watching Windows upgrades completely bork PC’s, I think it’s the way to go.

Until Apple released Lion.

Again, I waited the requisite time until the first update was released. Then I got my iPhone 4s and really wanted to use the iCloud features, only available on Lion. And, since Lion was in the App store and cheap, I figured I’d go against the norm and upgrade my operating system instead of installing from scratch. What a huge mistake that was.

My iMac was running about as fast as Windows XP on an old Celeron (with only 256MB of RAM) and almost everything I did would trigger a crash to the ol’ Finder. All of my apps, appropriately updated to the correct version to actually work with Lion, were also unstable and very slow. Finally, I didn’t notice a change and I think some of the key features of Lion weren’t on.

So I decided to do it right, erase the hard drive, install Lion, reinstall my apps and restore my documents from backups. Slight problem with that however; as soon as the Lion upgrade is completed, the installer magically deletes itself from your drive. And, re-downloading from the app store didn’t seem possible. So I fired up the Goog.

Installing Lion from Scratch

Why do the research when your old pal db has already done it for you?

If you haven’t installed Lion yet, and you want to do a clean install, you are going to need to get the installer on a USB thumb drive (8GB works best) or a DVD. Instructions for that can be found here. Once you are done getting the installer on your media of choice, run the installer just like always, including making a pit stop at the Disk Utility on the installer media to erase your hard drive. Easy.

Now, if you, like me, upgraded to Lion already but want to do it again (or want to have a copy of Lion should you need it), the boys at OSXDaily have you covered again with this, explaining how to re-download OSX Lion after you already have. Once it’s downloaded again, follow the steps above to get the installer to bootable media and get to it.

Of course it’s assumed that before any of this starts you have a reliable backup to restore from, right? Remember, you have to back it up to get it back!

Comments are open if you have any questions!