Home Mac When it’s Time to do a Full System Erase and Install

When it’s Time to do a Full System Erase and Install

by Kerry Dawson

Optical drive erase and install

When it comes to a clean install I don’t talk about this lightly. They’re a lot of work but sometimes a necessary evil with great fruit on the other side. Getting there is a bit of another thing.

When I talk about doing a clean or fresh install I’m not talking about reinstalling the operating system. I’m talking about doing first a clean erase of the current Operating System and replacing it.

To add to this, it might be necessary to do this where you are only migrating your data back and that’s it. All of the applications you re-install from scratch. If the apps are from the iTunes store this is a piece of cake. If the applications are say from a vendor they’re not. You’ll have to find the location of every install application and your license.

You’re probably asking about this point what would possess me to do such a thing. It doesn’t sound like fun and it isn’t except if the results are worth it and in my case they were absolutely worth it.

The Day I upgraded to Mavericks


After I upgraded to Mavericks, something I was very much looking forward to doing, my system started acting funny. I had developed a latency affect. I would click on something; anything and it might take 3 to 5 seconds for the item to respond. This did not occur all the time but every so often. So if I was clicking through Safari or Chrome tabs every so often one just wouldn’t respond for a while.

This was the case with many other things. Fields in a contacts database or end of line clicks in which you’d want the cursor to instantly appear. It just wasn’t happening.

Opening a Case File

Cold case

At this point I knew it was time I called Apple. Through many interventions by Apple tech support and the upgrade to 0SX 9.1 nothing cured the ailment. Finally, even after the upgrade, I was instructed to do a full system reinstall. This in no way affects anything. All your data and applications remain in tact.

Even after doing all the above the problem persisted. I was finally told by Apple they were noticing this themselves. Recently, on a Friday night, I decided to call Apple tech support as I was pretty sure I knew what had to be done. It was the only thing left and the only thing that hadn’t been done.

I got this tech rep who was a bit like me. She just wanted her machine to work right. She told me she had a test machine that she reinstalled Mavericks on from scratch and she didn’t see the problem afterwards.

We reflected on everything that had been done and then I said I think I only have one option left and that’s to do a clean erase and install. She fully agreed and as tough as it is we both felt it was the only way to get the machine operating properly again.

Two Different Types of Clean Erase and installs Later and Voila

I knew what had to be done but I decided to watch Don McAllisters tutorial at Screencasts Online on doing a clean erase and install. I proceeded with this version of the installation knowing this was not the type I was going to have to do.

Although this probably works for most people, it failed for me. I spent quite a bit of time doing it only to still have the same problem. I knew what was needed and I wasn’t looking forward to it.

The Heavy Duty Clean Erase and Install

Cartoon desk clean

This erase and install fairly well ensures that you will start with a clean system. Using Disk Utility you first Erase your drive. Then you install Mavericks which may take a while as it has to download.

Once installed at the Data Migration option point you only migrate your data back to your system and not your programs or anything else.

Upon boot, you have basically a new system except your data is there. Begin loading your applications and watch for any unusual operating system behaviour. If there is that’s the program that was likely causing the problem.

I was lucky as my Problem was in The First Program I went to Install

I started installing my programs and I noticed something odd on the very first program I installed. Testing things I was getting my strange behaviour.

I pulled the application out and the problem went away. My computer not only was working without the latency problem but it was working faster as this was a clean install.

The End Result is Worth It

Sheldon smiing

Although I spent many hours reinstalling applications the end result has been well worth it. I now have a computer that works as it should. It’s fast due to the clean install and the latency problem, which was annoying, is completely gone.

Although this isn’t something I’d wish on anyone, if you do have a problem that just won’t go away with all the regular maintenance treatment, it’s better to bite the bullet and get it over with to solve your problem. Likely you will but be prepared for work at the end of the process as you go about reinstalling your programs. However, the end result is worth every minute of time spent.

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