I’m sort of used to reinstalling my OS. At least I’m used to reinstalling Windows, because as you probably know Windows gets slower and slower the more things you install and the longer you have a running install. So, I tend to just start over at least 2x a year. There are some ways to make this simpler. The first is having an external HDD. This just needs to be big enough to hold all of the documents and media files that you don’t want to lose in the switch. I don’t have a ton of stuff so mine is only 120GB. I could certainly use a bigger one, though. I think that 250GB should suffice but 500GB is probably safer. If you do video editing then you probably need more than that.
Another way to keep things safe and make a transition easier is using cloud storage. One service I cannot recommend enough is Dropbox. I have used this service for about a year and I love it. It’s free for 2GB of storage and they have other options if you are willing to pay monthly. Dropbox is a program that lets you pick one folder on your computer that you would like to keep synced to the cloud. Dropbox runs in the background and keeps track of any changes you makes to files in that folder and its subfolders. 2GB is plenty for all of my documents. I keep all of my school and work documents in my dropbox. What’s really nice about dropbox is that you can install it on multiple computers and it keeps everything in sync on all of the computers. You can also access your documents from a web interface and they have mobile applications like this one for iPhone. I’m telling you; it’s great.
If you aren’t using some sort of service to keep all of your email, contacts and calendar stuff in the cloud, then you really should. I recommend Google sync since it does a great job and works with everything. Google has tutorials on how to set up their services on a variety of platforms here. Mobileme is another service that keeps everything in the cloud, but it costs $99 a year. Why do that when you can get all of those services for free from Google? I don’t know either.
Pictures are pretty easy to take from a PC to a Mac. Just put your photo folder onto an external harddrive and then import them into iPhoto on your Mac. Simple enough; be prepared for iPhoto to completely rearrange your photo folders, though. This doesn’t really bother me. I gave up on keeping my photos neatly organized years ago, so iPhoto actually helps. If you have a meticulous method for organizing your picture folders then you should probably stay away from iPhoto until you change some settings in there.
Music is another animal for me. I spend hours keeping the metadata for my music in order and I hate to see it all go to crap when I transition to another OS. If you are already using iTunes, then thankfully it is pretty easy to switch to a Mac and not lose all of that stuff. If you don’t then my advice would be to install iTunes on your PC before moving to the Mac. There are some tutorials for doing this. I found this one incredibly helpful. Since iTunes 9 came out you don’t have to use a hex editor on your itunes.xml file anymore. It is extremely easy to move an itunes library from Windows to Mac these days. Be thankful, it wasn’t so easy even a year ago.
Next blog will be about my transition to actually using my MacBook for daily tasks at work and at home.