I’m documenting this because that’s what all my fellow nerds seem to be doing.
I’ve been meaning to install Boot Camp on my Mac for a while so that I could play some games on Steam without worrying about Crossover compatibility issues, but every time I ran the Boot Camp Assistant it would give me errors during the partitioning step. I tried to defrag and remove large files from my hard drive, but for whatever reason things were too fragmented and it just refused to let me install Windows.
So I decided to copy everything I wanted to keep to an external drive when installing Snow Leopard, which came out last month while I was in Alaska. I did it on a weekend when I was coming into town on Friday night and leaving again on Sunday, which left only Saturday to do the big file copying, the install, and the copying back, which was probably a bad idea, but it actually turned out pretty well. This is in large part because almost everything I want is stored within either /Users/casey or /Applications.
Formatting my drive went fine, and the install itself happened in ~25 minutes, which was awesome. There were only two mistakes in the backup process:
- The iLife 09 apps install pieces of themselves in /Library, necessitating a clean install of iLife, and
- I copied things from my external drive back via drag-and-drop with Finder, meaning that I lost my intricately built (and stupidly not-backed-up-online-anywhere) .gvimrc.
Still, that’s pretty good. The last thing that I should mention is that I got Boot Camp set up properly, and installing a copy of Vista I got just before leaving college only took ~30 minutes. I found that part especially remarkable since it literally took 8 hours to install on my PC in college (although now I guess that points to my old PC just being in really bad shape even at that point). At that point I had invested maybe 11 hours into the whole process of copying files to my drive, installing two operating systems, and copying files back in place. Minimal mistakes were made, and overall compatibility with Snow Leopard has been good for the set of apps I use (and some of the tweaks to the OS have been really nice to have). Plus I can theoretically play some of my old PC games, if I find the time.