I’ve been using Mac’s since 2003 when I bought my first Mac when living in Australia – it was an eMac (link) and through this time I’ve upgraded between releases over many different devices (iMac, iBook, PowerBook, eMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro) and the one thing to keep in mind is that, no matter how much the chorus online like to repeat it as if it were a natural law or something, the software Apple is shipping is no worse than they shipped in the past (in fact, I would argue in some cases it is actually better in some areas).
Lets go for a walk down member late, anyone remember the 10.2.x days where if a SMB mount would disappear off the network resulting in the whole Finder hanging resulting a ‘force quit’? Anyone remember when in 10.2.8 the ethernet support was broken where they had to quickly pull the update? Then there was 10.3.x where a bug resulted in file system corruption on external devices that used the Oxford chipset – anyone remember that? Then there was 10.4.x with fast switching bugs, poor optimisation for the transition from PowerPC to x86 – remember those? Anyone remember when 10.5 was released and on Macrumors there were numerous people claiming that 10.4.11 was the most rock solid version ever? Anyone remember discoveryd in 10.10.x? As someone who has gone through all this before, for the loud voices on the internet to scream about how ‘the software is worse than ever’ either are looking at the past with rose tinted classes or are large ignorant of Apple and macOS from the past because they’ve only just started to own a Mac.
Long story short there is far too much time spent by too many people claiming each year that “Apple’s software has gone down hill…back in [x date] the software was far superior but now they’re ignoring [product category] for the sake of [conspiracy theory]”. Put ‘apple declining software quality’ into Google and you’ll see the same articles going back over a decade – each year another journalist (or even the same one) declaring that this year software has declined whilst looking back at the prior year with “but last year things were good” but ignore the fact that the prior year the author made the same claim about the software for that year.
With all that being said, how does one reduce the problems one might experience when upgrading ones operating system (between major releases vs. incremental updates which are bug fix up dates (going from 10.15.0 to 10.15.1)?
1) Wait at least 1-2 weeks after the release of a new version of macOS – many times Apple will release a supplementary update and then ‘slip stream’ (to borrow an old Microsoft term) those changes back into the the installer from the store. For example, if you have a look under ‘Version History’ on the macOS Catalina page where the oroginal 10.15 release 3 weeks ago then the 10.15.0 release was updated 1 week ago. When you see that it means that Apple has updated it since the original version was released.
2) Always do a clean install – back up your files (not applications, just your files) then download, create a bootable USB stick so that you can do a clean install, reboot and reset PRAM and SMC, boot off the USB stick then run the installer, format the drive and then install it. Will that result in a perfect system? No but what it will do is remove all possible variables that might influence the outcome – if you start with a clean slate with nothing carried over for the last installation means that if there are issues then you know that since you started with a clean slate it is solely down to macOS and not because of something carried over from what existed on the system before. Yes, in theory all upgrades should be smooth but going back to my Linux and Windows days I never trusted upgrades – I always did a clean install between major releases which is how I’ve avoided so many of the problems that people are facing today. When in doubt clean it out.
Side note: macOS 10.15.1 was released today and installed – it was a huge update weighing it at 4.59GB. I had a check through ‘System Information’ and it appears that pretty much everything, from kernel extensions through to frameworks, has been updated which explains the large size. I haven’t noticed any major changes other than things appear to be snappier especially Safari, Finder etc. there have been big under the hood changes the have come with this release but I’d say that as things calm down and there is probably another update released just before Christmas – 10.4.2 was released 5 December 2018 so I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a release around the same time.