The Struggle of Managing a Laptop and Local Data

After weeks of debating whether to upgrade my OS (operating system), I’ve finally decided to take the leap and upgrade from Snow Leopard to Mountain Lion. (For those of you who don’t have Mac’s, their operating systems are named after kitties). Snow Leopard is the Mac operating system introduced in 2009. In late 2011, Lion was introduced, and this past summer, Mountain Lion was introduced.

Last year, I upgraded from Snow Leopard to Lion on my Mid-2010 MacBook Pro, but I made the fatal mistake of not backing up my hard drive and wiping it clean before the upgrade. I enjoyed the nifty new features that were included in the new OS but was very disappointed that roughly a quarter of my apps didn’t work anymore (because they ran on PowerPc instead of Intel :[ ). Shortly after the upgrade, I started experiencing frequent system crashes; the spinning beach ball of death would appear on my screen and my Macbook Pro would come to a screeching halt, completely paralyzed . To my surprise, I found threads upon threads of users with my same model of Macbook Pro, experiencing the same issue and no support from Apple. So, eventually I got fed up and decided to try to backup all my local files, wipe my hard drive, and go back to Snow Leopard. However, my computer would crash before I could finish backing up my local files, so I resorted to backing up 30GBs at a time, which ultimately was successful. Even though I was happy with my success, I still wondered what I would’ve done if I were not tech savvy. How could Apple offer no support when so many people were having the same problem?

After wiping my hard drive, I reinstalled Snow Leopard, and my Macbook Pro has been a happy cat ever since. But I’ve really missed the awesome features that came with Lion, so today, I decided to upgrade to Mountain Lion because users with my model of Macbook Pro have reported few problems.

So, this time I’m not going to take any chances. I’m creating a bootable backup, wiping my hard drive, and installing Mountain Lion from USB. Unfortunately, figuring this whole process out took a few hours, and I’m also really sad that Firewire never became the standard over USB. After 2 hours, I have 122GBs to my hard drive, which is roughly 17Mb/s and 1GB per minute. If I were using Firewire 800, 247GB could have been copied by now.

Data Movement

Above is a chart that displays the speed of USB 2.0 vs. Firewire 400 vs. Firewire 800 (Courtesy of

I know this post has seemed like I’ve been rambling on, but my main point is to simply demonstrate how much of a pain it is to manage a personal computer and its local data. I’m simply baffled that Apple still hasn’t released a Lion update that fixes their incompatibility problem on Mid-2010 MBP caused by Nvidia drivers, and I can’t imagine how the average computer user would fix the problem other than bringing their laptop to the Genius bar and paying an arm and leg to have it repaired. Further, with the rate at which the amount of data we own on our personal computers is increasing, I’m baffled that we still use a technology for data transfer invented in the 90’s when much faster options are out there. Soon, I hope the cost of Solid State Hard Drives drops, and we adopt some other method of transferring data.

Wish me luck on my installation of Mountain Lion, and feel free to ask me any questions about it if you’re curious! (I’m also very willing to listen to any tips if you have them!)

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4 Responses to The Struggle of Managing a Laptop and Local Data

  1. samargolis says:

    This is partly why I’m hoping to teach myself the Unix command line over break. Linux seems to be the best option because the people build distributions because they need to use it themselves. The Apple people only need to worry about their OS’s when they stop selling, and people aren’t going to stop buying Apple products any time soon. Heck, it’s taken Microsoft years to ruin their market share.

    Anyway, I could be wished luck on teaching myself the command line, it’s something I always say I’m going to do but never get around to it.

  2. hustonsa says:

    Thanks! I recently updated to Mountain Lion and have been experiencing the wheel of death and frequent lags and crashes. Much to my dismay, I could find no help from apple. Especially a shame as well because I love the new os itself and the new programs it has. I have always held apple products to a high standard, and they have always met my standards. Halfway through my update, I realized that I did not back up my HD on my external. However, I was glad to see that all of my filed remained in tact. I will definitely backup and wipe my HD over break and then reinstall mountain lion! Hopefully I will have the same results.

  3. dkoleanb says:

    I’m sorry to hear that you’re experiencing the spinning wheel of death! That’s quite unfortunate. I do want to warn you that if you perform the wipe and clean install, you will lose all your apps, and you can’t simply copy them onto your new machine (be careful with anything requiring a product key). Also, I prefer Carbon Copy Cloner [] to Time Machine. You should do a search for the machine you’re using to see if anyone else is experiencing problems similar to you. I’m running it on a Macbook Pro Mid 2010 13″.

    Update: So far, Mountain Lion is running quite well after the clean install. It maintained the same snappiness I experienced in Snow Leopard, and I really enjoy its new features. The biggest surprise in terms of features was Safari. I almost chose it over Google Chrome/Firefox because it’s so fast, and it’s implemented many of the same features as you’ll find on the iTouch/iPhone (tap with two fingers to smart-zoom, etc.). I decided to go to use Chrome though because it doesn’t have view page source or inspect element features. I highly recommend the upgrade if you’re willing to take the leap.

  4. julianami says:

    For anyone who’s just reading this now and interested in upgrading to Mountain Lion, I did a clean install over the past summer on my Macbook Pro 15 from 2010 and managed to maintain all of my settings, etc without using Time Machine/back-up. Basically, what I did was create a new partition, install Mountain Lion in that partition, then when it asked where to import settings/apps from, I clicked my original partition. Then it gets tricky, because you need to change the default partition, then move the bottom partition up, delete the original partition, and re-size it to your full hard drive. You’re right though, taking care of a personal computer and its local data is an insane amount of work! It took me almost two entire days to complete the process. I really do recommend the upgrade to Mountain Lion though. It works flawlessly on my computer!

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