Digital spring cleaning

I had the somewhat brilliant idea late last week to reformat my personal machine and reinstall everything. I haven’t done anything like this in quite a while–ever since I got my first Mac!–although I used to do it around twice a year or so on my Windows machine. Of course, one says you should never have to do it on a Mac, but I wanted to, for two reasons:

  1. Data all over the place. It’s quite unwieldy and confusing! This isn’t just personal data, but machine/application data, too. I have an app sweeper, but sadly I know there will be stuff that one can’t really get out because of ini files and such in wildly different places.
  2. Psychological trickery! ;) By reformatting my machine, and needing to set it back up, I’m tricking myself into feeling like I have a new Mac! I’ve been meaning to get myself an iMac over a year ago, but due to financial reasons, I’ve had to push it back again and again. I mean, I can’t even persuade myself to get a new S$200 Macbook battery! (I am currently permanently connected to the power socket now haha.)

As such it made a lot of sense to finally do this.

The process

I have a 1TB backup external drive, half of which (Largo) is my Time Machine backup, and the other half (Piro) is my general data drive. Piro still had a LOT of available space, so I decided I’d just dump all of my personal files on it and sort it all out back later.

Now we come to the OMG YOU MUST DO THIS OR SUFFER THE SAME FATE AS I tip: Back up with Time Machine JUST BEFORE you reformat. Or, OMG BACKUP THE DOCUMENTS DIRECTORY! Yes, I forgot to back up my Documents directory. I copied over whole folders–Sites, Pictures, Music, Resources, Downloads, Library, even majority of my applications, and even remembered to dump my MySQL data. BUT I FORGOT THE DOCUMENTS DIRECTORY. YAY. </sarcasm>

So after doing some backup (heh), and making sure Dropbox had finished all the syncing and is fully up to date, I fished out my trusty Mac OS X install disc, stuck it in the optical drive, and went ahead and wiped my drive and reinstalled OS X. It didn’t take very long–I took a shower in the meantime–and when I came back I was back to setting things up.

I decided here, that I would not let anything back on my hard drive unless I was going to use it. Cleaning up by deleting things is a very long, time-consuming process, and I’m prone to think, “eh, it’s not too bad to keep it there, that’s fine” and end up not doing a lot of cleaning at all. This time though, since nothing is on my machine, it’s clean by default. I’ve copied over/installed quite a few things already, but for the rest, it won’t get back on my machine unless I started looking for it.

The first application back on was Dropbox, especially since I keep quite a few things on there such as Adium logs and Firefox bookmarks, as well as various settings that I could sync up. That took quite a while to update, and I left it to run overnight, along with running Software Update to make sure I’m caught up with OS X updates and whatnot.

This was also a great time to do a lot more syncing to the cloud, and discovering new applications. I already have my .bash_profile and .vimrc files symlinked and synced with Dropbox, but now I also do the same for httpd.conf and php.ini. I also discovered GeekTool, which is absolutely fantastic and geek-squee worthy. It’s also quite a time sink, to be honest–there’s so much you can do with it, from testing things out yourself to researching what’s possible.

Desktop: work in progress

A reboot, quite properly

Having a clean machine feels quite invigorating, to be honest! I was having office machine woes last week, which ended up with my machine crashing and actually needing a reformat–but while it was frustrating during the event, it felt quite liberating afterward. And the new year is just the right time to do a bit of digital spring cleaning ;)

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