Backblaze’s Upgrade Guide for macOS High Sierra

By | September 14th, 2017

High Sierra

Apple introduced macOS 10.13 “High Sierra” at its 2017 Worldwide Developers Conference in June. On Tuesday, we learned we don’t have long to wait — the new OS will be available on September 25. It’s a free upgrade, and millions of Mac users around the world will rush to install it.

We understand. A new OS from Apple is exciting, But please, before you upgrade, we want to remind you to back up your Mac. You want your data to be safe from unexpected problems that could happen in the upgrade. We do, too. To make that easier, Backblaze offers this macOS High Sierra upgrade guide.

Why Upgrade to macOS 10.13 High Sierra?

High Sierra, as the name suggests, is a follow-on to the previous macOS, Sierra. Its major focus is on improving the base OS with significant improvements that will support new capabilities in the future in the file system, video, graphics, and virtual/augmented reality.

But don’t despair; there also are outward improvements that will be readily apparent to everyone when they boot the OS for the first time. We’ll cover both the inner and outer improvements coming in this new OS.

Under the Hood of High Sierra

APFS (Apple File System)

Apple has been rolling out its first file system upgrade for a while now. It’s already in iOS: now High Sierra brings APFS to the Mac. Apple touts APFS as a new file system optimized for Flash/SSD storage and featuring strong encryption, better and faster file handling, safer copying and moving of files, and other improved file system fundamentals.

We went into detail about the enhancements and improvements that APFS has over the previous file system, HFS+, in an earlier post. Many of these improvements, including enhanced performance, security and reliability of data, will provide immediate benefits to users, while others provide a foundation for future storage innovations and will require work by Apple and third parties to support in their products and services.

Most of us won’t notice these improvements, but we’ll benefit from better, faster, and safer file handling, which I think all of us can appreciate.

Video

High Sierra includes High Efficiency Video Encoding (HEVC, aka H.265), which preserves better detail and color while also introducing improved compression over H.264 (MPEG-4 AVC). Even existing Macs will benefit from the HEVC software encoding in High Sierra, but newer Mac models include HEVC hardware acceleration for even better performance.

MacBook Pro

Metal 2

macOS High Sierra introduces Metal 2, the next-generation of Apple’s Metal graphics API that was launched three years ago. Apple claims that Metal 2 provides up to 10x better performance in key areas. It provides near-direct access to the graphics processor (GPU), enabling the GPU to take control over key aspects of the rendering pipeline. Metal 2 will enhance the Mac’s capability for machine learning, and is the technology driving the new virtual reality platform on Macs.

audio video editor screenshot

Virtual Reality

We’re about to see an explosion of virtual reality experiences on both the Mac and iOS thanks to High Sierra and iOS 11. Content creators will be able to use apps like Final Cut Pro X, Epic Unreal 4 Editor, and Unity Editor to create fully immersive worlds that will revolutionize entertainment and education and have many professional uses, as well.

Users will want the new iMac with Retina 5K display or the upcoming iMac Pro to enjoy them, or any supported Mac paired with the latest external GPU and VR headset.

iMac and HTC virtual reality player

Outward Improvements

Siri

Siri logo

Expect a more nature voice from Siri in High Sierra. She or he will be less robotic, with greater expression and use of intonation in speech. Siri will also learn more about your preferences in things like music, helping you choose music that fits your taste and putting together playlists expressly for you. Expect Siri to be able to answer your questions about music-related trivia, as well.

Siri:  what does “scaramouche” refer to in the song Bohemian Rhapsody?

Photos

HD MacBook Pro screenshot

Photos has been redesigned with a new layout and new tools. A redesigned Edit view includes new tools for fine-tuning color and contrast and making adjustments within a defined color range. Some fun elements for creating special effects and memories also have been added. Photos now works with external apps such as Photoshop and Pixelmator. Compatibility with third-party extension adds printing and publishing services to help get your photos out into the world.

Safari

Safari logo

Apple claims that Safari in High Sierra is the world’s fastest desktop browser, outperforming Chrome and other browsers in a range of benchmark tests. They’ve also added autoplay blocking for those pesky videos that play without your permission and tracking blocking to help protect your privacy.

Can My Mac Run macOS High Sierra 10.13?

All Macs introduced in mid 2010 or later are compatible. MacBook and iMac computers introduced in late 2009 are also compatible. You’ll need OS X 10.7.5 “Lion” or later installed, along with at least 2 GB RAM and 8.8 GB of available storage to manage the upgrade.
Some features of High Sierra require an internet connection or an Apple ID. You can check to see if your Mac is compatible with High Sierra on Apple’s website.

Conquering High Sierra — What Do I Do Before I Upgrade?

Back Up That Mac!

It’s always smart to back up before you upgrade the operating system or make any other crucial changes to your computer. Upgrading your OS is a major change to your computer, and if anything goes wrong…well, you don’t want that to happen.

iMac backup screenshot

We recommend the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy to make sure your data is safe. What does that mean? Have three copies of your data. There’s the “live” version on your Mac, a local backup (Time Machine, another copy on a local drive or other computer), and an offsite backup like Backblaze. No matter what happens to your computer, you’ll have a way to restore the files if anything goes wrong. Need help understanding how to back up your Mac? We have you covered with a handy Mac backup guide.

Check for App and Driver Updates

This is when it helps to do your homework. Check with app developers or device manufacturers to find if their apps and devices have updates to work with High Sierra. Visit their websites or use the Check for Updates feature built into most apps (often found in the File or Help menus).

If you’ve downloaded apps through the Mac App Store, make sure to open them and click on the Updates button to download the latest updates.

Updating can be hit or miss when you’ve installed apps that didn’t come from the Mac App Store. To make it easier, visit the MacUpdate website. MacUpdate tracks changes to thousands of Mac apps.


Will Backblaze work with macOS High Sierra?

Yes. We’ve taken care to ensure that Backblaze works with High Sierra. We’ve already enhanced our Macintosh client to report the space available on an APFS container and we plan to add additional support for APFS capabilities that enhance Backblaze’s capabilities in the future.

Of course, we’ll watch Apple’s release carefully for any last minute surprises. We’ll officially offer support for High Sierra once we’ve had a chance to thoroughly test the release version.


Set Aside Time for the Upgrade

Depending on the speed of your Internet connection and your computer, upgrading to High Sierra will take some time. You’ll be able to use your Mac straightaway after answering a few questions at the end of the upgrade process.

If you’re going to install High Sierra on multiple Macs, a time-and-bandwidth-saving tip came from a Backblaze customer who suggested copying the installer from your Mac’s Applications folder to a USB Flash drive (or an external drive) before you run it. The installer routinely deletes itself once the upgrade process is completed, but if you grab it before that happens you can use it on other computers.

Where Do I get High Sierra?

Apple says that High Sierra will be available on September 25. Like other Mac operating system releases, Apple offers macOS 10.13 High Sierra for download from the Mac App Store, which is included on the Mac. As long as your Mac is supported and running OS X 10.7.5 “Lion” (released in 2012) or later, you can download and run the installer. It’s free. Thank you, Apple.

Better to be Safe than Sorry

Back up your Mac before doing anything to it, and make Backblaze part of your 3-2-1 backup strategy. That way your data is secure. Even if you have to roll back after an upgrade, or if you run into other problems, your data will be safe and sound in your backup.

Tell us How it Went

Are you getting ready to install High Sierra? Still have questions? Let us know in the comments. Tell us how your upgrade went and what you like about the new release of macOS.

And While You’re Waiting for High Sierra…

While you’re waiting for Apple to release High Sierra on September 25, you might want to check out these other posts about using your Mac and Backblaze.

Roderick Bauer

Roderick Bauer

Content Director at Backblaze
Roderick enjoys sailing on San Francisco Bay, motorcycling, cooking, reading, and writing about tech and culture. He is Content Director for Backblaze.

Follow Roderick on:
Twitter: @rodbauer | LinkedIn | Google+ | Medium | Flickr | SmugMug
Category:  Backing Up · Mac Love
  • Tasty Geezer

    DO NOT upgrade if you have an imac with a FUSION drive. . . Apple failed to tell people that High Sierra will not work with Fusion Drives. . . Yet.

    • bwrichard

      I upgraded from 10.10.5 to High Sierra (public release version) on 29th September: my iMac has a Fusion drive, and there were no issues at all apart from 10.13 changing my Yahoo IMAP settings, but I’ve resolved that. It’s still working fine for me …

      • Herr_Horst

        Yeah, the only thing not working with Fusion drives should be the new file system which Apple said they will make available with a later update. So there should be no worries.

  • dfp

    I’ve been using BackBlaze for a number of years now, generally without any problems. Over the last month however, two of our machines, on on Sierra and now one on High Sierra, became corrupted such that even the Preferences pane displayed gibberish (variable names rather than actual values). Following directions, in both cases we uninstalled BackBlaze, installed the new version, and selected the option to inherit a backup state. In both cases, either we mishandled the process or BB did, as our machine states were renamed and listed as trial versions. When trying to get everything back to normal, the backup state was lost, so now we are reinitializing two 80GB-ish archives. If this was pilot error, then, being an experienced software dev and interaction analyst, I’d have to say the process needs clarity. If this was BB error, well, I suppose I’d argue the same.

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  • Paul Jackson

    I’m not a paid up developer, so don’t have access to the Golden Master – i.e. the same code as the forthcoming public non-beta release of 10.13.0.

    However, I have experiences to report upgrading two Macs – the first to 10.13 Public Beta 8; the second to 10.13 Public Beta 9 (the last public beta).

    Upgrade to 10.13 Public Beta 8

    Installation on MacBook Air Late 2010 with 4GB RAM & 128 GB SSD VERY slow – at least three times the originally indicated 41 minutes – but worth the tedious wait. To be fair, I only had about 10GB SSD spare and forgot to disconnect a USB 2.0 drive used for Time Machine backups, external screen via Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter, external keyboard and mouse via Buffalo USB3.0 hub.

    First boot screen after restart, following a distinctly disturbing “DOOOD” sound, looks like a very dumbed-down, low resolution Apple boot screen with a fat sausage style progress bar. Don’t worry, you’ll get the original sleeker one back later. (This may have been due to my use of an external display throughout the upgrade, or perhaps all the USB peripherals still attached.) Also, don’t be tempted to give up at several stages where the same time to completion is indicated for up to 20 minutes. It gets you there in the end. Maybe best to leave it all going unattended so you don’t stress out over these bugbears and holdups.

    Practically all prior software – including surprisingly (given some contrary rumours) Aperture and Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac – seems to load and enable me to load and save changes, though I haven’t touched more than 1% of features and functionality. Time Machine backups to USB 2.0 disk and Synology DS213j work fine, though I have not tried restorations!

    Some fairly / very old Adobe software (2010-2011) reported that I needed to install a relatively old Java for Mac. Other than that, no software was reported as being incompatible.

    Safari is indeed subjectively faster, I seem to have gained 1 to 2GB of SSD space and after letting Finder / Spotlight do its indexing, all seems OK with temperatures and fan speed (I use Macs Fan Control with Exhaust – Auto setting).

    Only remaining – trivial – annoyance is the three-broken-chopstick App Store icon / logo, which looks like it belongs with the fat sausage style progress bar at the beginning of the upgrade process!

    Upgrade to 10.13 Public Beta 9

    I performed this both as an update to the previous upgrade and latterly (mistakenly) as effectively an in-place re-installation of 10.13 Public Beta 9 on the same MacBook Air Late 2010. (I thought it was the Golden Master installer.)

    Much smoother and closer to estimated time first indicated than the first time around, except for very unnerving few minutes where MacBook Air screen went black and stayed black, with furious fanning.

    In both cases I ensured I had plenty more free SSD space than strictly required AND unplugged ALL peripherals, but I don’t know which if either of these factors made the difference.

    I also performed this upgrade on an iMac 27″ Late 2009 with 12GB RAM and 1TB Samsung Evo 850 SSD. Unlike the first try on the MacBook Air, this one had about 150GB free space on the SSD.

    Similar slightly unnerving experience to the first (Public Beta 8) upgrade on the MacBook Air, including the “DOOOD” sound and low-resolution fat sausage like progress bar. I had forgotten to unplug Ethernet from router (onwards connected to Synology DS231j NAS), and local USB 2.0 backup drive, if that made any difference.

    However, at least the reported wait time of 41 minutes was accurate this time.

    At the end of the process, just one application was reported to be incompatible – an old version of Gutenprint (formerly known as GIMP Print).

    Warning – unlike previous upgrades, where such software was retained, but kept in a separate sub-folder (called something like Incompatible Software), this seemed to disappear completely, at least from the Applications folder. The only options given were to Continue or go Back. I continued in this case, knowing that the software is free. I simply downloaded the latest version which IS compatible with MacOS 10.13 High Sierra.

    Conclusion

    1. Having multiple backups will give you peace of mind when weird things happen (black screens for several minutes, “DOOOD” sounds, weird low-resolution Apple logos and progress bars, much longer waits than expected!

    2. Free up quite a bit more than the minimum 8.8GB SSD (or HDD) space strictly required and unplug ALL peripherals before starting the upgrade application (Install MacOS High Sierra).

    3. If you have more than one Mac, just upgrade one to begin with, but remember first to save the Install MacOS High Sierra application somewhere first, so you won’t have another 5GB download to wait for / waste data allowance on.

    4. Hang in there and don’t try to power down or panic if/when weird things happen.

    5. Rest assured if you did 1. that you can revert / recover anything from an entire previous installation to an application that may have mysteriously been lost in the upgrade.

    (Whether an old application or version of application will be of any use to you is another matter, as it may not run on High Sierra. But people do publish fixes and workarounds for more popular software that enable old versions or applications to run on new OS’s, so you might be in luck if you are willing / able to be patient.)

    • Thanks for the details of your experiences, Paul.

      • Paul Jackson

        Thanks Roderick. I thought this might encourage and help anyone who has older Macs to upgrade theirs.
        Both the MacBook Air and the iMac were the earliest / oldest models that Apple supports for High Sierra (and Sierra for that matter).
        Yesterday, I installed the High Sierra Golden Master “Version 10.13 Beta (17A362a)” on the same two machines.
        It took about 35 minutes for each and was a little less dramatic than described above, but there was still in both cases quite a long period of totally blank screen after the restart, when I DID begin to wonder / get nervous. Just be patient!

  • IanHowlett

    Thanks for a very useful guide. I don’t think I’ll upgrade though. So much hassle for seemingly no real benefit.

    • Jonathan Payne

      Wait a bit but definitely upgrade. Always important to be up to date and this release is going to be like the Snow Leopard release: performance improvements.

      Just my opinion.

      Meanwhile, I hope backblaze can figure out ways to be more efficient with this new file system. It might be possible for it to know at any given time how many files need to be updated, whereas now there seems to be a delay of up to a couple hours because it’s #1 concern seems to be “No impact in system” except when actually uploading. Which is good. All other backup services I used had huge memory footprints. This one never shows up on the radar. Love it!

      • We are looking at ways to take advantage of APFS. Stay tuned.