Sticking With an Older Version of OS X By Josh Blagden | JB - Mac Help | JBlagden

Sticking With an Older Version of OS X              By Josh Blagden

Some people will stick with an older version of OS X because their Mac is not supported by a newer version. Others will stick with an older version because they’re afraid that upgrading might cause problems like software incompatibility or strange behavior, or that it might slow their Mac down. Until recently, I didn’t understand the concern of strange behavior  Since upgrading from Mavericks to Yosemite and then from Yosemite to El Capitan, I understand. 

At least in terms of speed, Yosemite and El Capitan seem to be intended for Solid State Drives. Both Yosemite and El Capitan take longer to boot than Mavericks, and the progress bar for the boot process also seems rather discouraging for those who still use hard drives. Also, apps seem to take longer to launch. El Capitan is supposed to launch apps 1.4 times faster than Yosemite, though I mainly only noticed a change in speed because my MacBook can once again use the flash portion of my solid state hybrid drive. Update 9/7/16: Some time after upgrading to El Capitan, I upgraded to a Solid State Drive and my MacBook’s hard drive died a couple days later. I suspect the slowness I experienced with El Capitan was due to my MacBook’s hard drive failing.

Another issue is that if you’re using a third-party Solid State Drive, you can’t upgrade to Yosemite. You might be able to upgrade to El Capitan, but not Yosemite. That’s because Yosemite dropped TRIM support for third-party Solid State Drives. Also, if you have a solid-state hybrid, you won’t get any speed from the flash portion of the drive. A couple years ago, I upgraded from my MacBook’s stock 5400 RPM 500 gigabyte hard drive to a 7200 RPM 750 gigabyte Seagate Momentus XT because I wanted a faster hard drive, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on a Solid State Drive. Both then and now, it has been a great way to speed up my MacBook without spending a lot of money, and while having a good amount of internal storage. However, when I upgraded to OS X Yosemite last year, my Mac slowed down because Yosemite was not able to make use of the flash portion of my Seagate Momentus XT. However, once I upgraded to OS X El Capitan, I immediately noticed the difference. 

There is something to be said about sticking with an older version of OS X, or at least not upgrading to a newer version immediately. If I had known that Yosemite would not be able to make use of the flash portion of my solid state hybrid drive, I would have thought twice about installing it. Also, if you have a third-party Solid State Drive (which has TRIM enabled), you won’t be able to successfully upgrade to Yosemite, though you might be able to upgrade to El Capitan. Given Yosemite’s inability to work with third-party Solid State Drives, or even solid state hybrids, and El Capitan’s occasional slowdowns, I would have been better off sticking with Mavericks. Also, when I upgraded from Lion to Mountain Lion, my MacBook slowed down, which is why I upgraded to the Momentus XT as well as upgrading from 4 gigabytes of RAM to 8. The trend I’ve noticed with all operating systems (Mac, Windows & Linux) is that over time, they start to require more resources when it’s assumed that more resources should be available. For example, Lubuntu, which is supposed to be a low-resource Linux distribution, requires half a gigabyte of RAM, while a version from two years earlier only requires a quarter of a gigabyte of RAM. The other reason to not upgrade immediately is to avoid any issues with the operating system itself or its compatibility with applications. 

If you’re going to upgrade to a new version of OS X, you should wait a month or two to find out about issues people are having with it. 

© Joshua Blagden & Justin Barczak 2013-2015
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