The past three weeks have been a flurry of activity as I take steps to enter the world of freelance video editing. I’m not going to quit my job (my goal for now is only supplemental income, not a full-fledged career) and I haven’t been hired for any projects (yet), but over the last few weeks I’ve tried to prepare a foundation for freelancing. Part of the process was setting up a website and getting on Twitter (I’ll post about both in the future), but another big part of it was getting a good computer on which to work. At first I considered buying a new computer and Final Cut Studio 3, but a friend mentioned that all I really needed to do was upgrade my current iMac from Tiger to Snow Leopard and reinstall FCS 2. What a revolutionary idea! Not to mention it’ll save me $2,000. So here’s how I did it.
Step 1: Learn how to upgrade. There are scores of walkthrough tutorials online on how to upgrade. I read a few and did my homework, trying to find one that explained things clearly and seemed the most logical. The one I followed and liked the best was from Cult of Mac.
Step 2: Remove Final Cut Studio. The most important step of installing a new OS is backing up your hard drive. I started to do so, but then realized that I was copying over FCS, something I was going to reinstall anyway. So instead of copying all of that over (about 60 GB worth), I downloaded FCS Remover and was done in about five minutes.
Step 3: Clean the hard drive. Following the steps from Cult of Mac, I used OmniSweeper to eliminate any hidden big files. I found a lot of Final Cut Pro documents I could delete (no use backing up 9 GB of render files). The biggest files were my music (a lot of podcasts) at 42 GB; movies (my own videos, movie and game trailers I’ve saved, etc) at 24.5 GB; and pictures at 20 GB. (I wanted to burn some of these items to DVDs for permanent backup, but since I was out of DVDs, that went on the to-do list.)
Step 4: Backup your local hard drive to an external drive. Carbon Copy Cloner is an excellent, easy-to-use program that backs up your hard drive. It’s also free! One important thing that Cult of Mac noted was to “remember [that] to make your backup drive bootable, you will have to completely wipe your destination drive.” This meant that I had to juggle around some files on the two external hard drives I own. My budget unfortunately restricted me from purchasing a new hard drive, even though today’s hard drives are ridiculously cheap. (My first external hard drive was purchased in 2004 off of Ebay. 250 GB for a grand total of $192.)
Step 5: Erase and install. This is of course the scariest step. Did I back everything right? Will the computer explode? At some point, you have to set the fears aside and just go for it. As one article I read said, “Cover your eyes with one hand and click install.”
You actually have to specifically choose to erase and install. I waited through the whole install process before I discovered that I had merely upgraded. To do erase and install, put the OS disc in and reboot the computer. As soon as the startup note sounds, hold down “C”. This will cause the computer to boot from the disc instead of the local HD. A screen will eventually load up, and you choose Utility from the menu bar. Once Disk Utility opens, select the local HD and choose Erase. (Format the drive as Mac OS X (Journaled).)
(One thing to note is, doing an Erase and Install won’t install iLife applications, since the Snow Leopard disk doesn’t have those. They are easily added, though. Just get the original OS disc for your computer and choose to install only those applications. For a more in-depth look at the erase and install process, see this article from Bright Hub.
Final Step: Transfer old files and reinstall programs back onto the computer. I’m a person who likes to do things manually, so instead of letting Snow Leopard’s migration application move my documents and music back onto the Local HD from my backup drive, I just moved over the specific files I wanted. I also reinstalled Microsoft Office and FCS 2. (I’ll write a quick post about that in the future.)
Upgrading a computer is like rearranging a room. Every time I rearrange my room (which I famously do every few months; just ask my friends), I find things I no longer need or want, and I throw out a lot of random papers and odds-and-ends. Same goes for rearranging your computer. Take advantage of it.