While I know it's a good idea to have a backup regardless, should I expect my user files to still be on the hard drive after a full non-upgrade install?

I'm currently on Tiger, and one of my motivations for upgrade is get rid of an occasional crash, which makes a clean install a little more attractive.


Did I understand correctly that you do not want to delete user files really, you just want to get rid of the occasional crash?

I'd suggest that you first upgrade to Snow Leopard normally (user files will be kept intact, of course), and use it for a while to see if it works better. If not, then consider other options to fix the problem, perhaps even a clean re-install if nothing else helps.

Further general reading on OS X upgrades: How Will Mac OS X Snow Leopard Upgrade Work?

  • @Justin, so did you upgrade to SL already? Did it seem to help?
    – Jonik
    Sep 13 '09 at 13:45
  • So far, but I want to reintroduce a few more variables before I call it certain. Sep 26 '09 at 21:36

When you do a clean install you format the hard drive. So yes your user files will go away.


I would suggest using Carbon Copy Cloner to create a disk image of your Tiger disk on another drive. Then do a fresh install of Snow Leopard, but when you're setting up the first user, create a dummy user. Once you've done that and are logged in, mount the disk image by double clicking on it and start the Migration Assistant in /Applications/Utilities/. The Migration Assistant will recognize the mounted disk image as your previous system and pull in whatever you want from it. Or you can just copy back what you want from the disk image without using Migration Assistant, if it's just your documents from your old profile. Lots of options. :)


There is no clean install. The closest thing is erasing the disk then installing a brand new copy, which will, of course, leave no remnants of your previous files.

  • So if I just install, my only option (short of wiping the drive) is to upgrade the current installation in place? Sorry, I'm used to windows, where a full re-install just moves the windows folder aside and leaves the rest of the HD intact (if unregistered, in the case of programs) Sep 12 '09 at 1:33
  • 1
    @Justin Love: An "Archive and Install" which is an option on 10.5 and earlier discs does what you are used to.
    – Chealion
    Sep 12 '09 at 1:53

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