Considering updating to the latest Mac OS version? Apple is releasing the public version of macOS High Sierra on this week. This is Apple’s brand new Mac operating system that’s been in Beta since June. Although the new macOS features improvements like Safari, Photos, HEVC & HEIF formats, the highlight of this update is Apple’s new file system (APFS). This is the same file system launched in iOS 10.3 earlier this year for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches.
What is the Apple File System (APFS)?
According to Apple, its Apple File System (APFS) features strong encryption, space sharing, snapshots, fast directory sizing, and improved file system fundamentals and is slated as the default file system for Macs with all-flash based hard drive storage (aka solid state drives.)
That last bit about “all-flash storage” raises a lot of questions for MacBook, iMac, and Mac users who have older models that use fusion drives as opposed to Solid state/flash storage.
- How To Setup Safari Features on the New macOS High Sierra
- 5 Ways macOS High Sierra Makes Your Mac Better
- Apple File System—the BIG update never heard of
Can upgrade to macOS High Sierra on your older Mac?
The answer is YES.
The older machines supporting fusion drives are not scheduled to automatically converted to APFS when you upgrade to macOS High Sierra. It’s possible that Apple releases a subsequent update of HIgh Sierra or later macOS versions that allows for auto-APFS updating on fusion drives.
Note to High Sierra Beta Testers
If you were a macOS High Sierra Beta Tester on a fusion drive, you will probably need to reconvert your drive before you update to the non beta version. The process laid out by Apple to do this is unfortunately long and takes time. You can read about it in Apple’s Whitepaper here.
What About External Drives? Can I convert them to APFS?
Yes, if you are running macOS High Sierra. You Must use Disk Utility to format the external drive to APFS. Please do remember that when you format your external drive from Journaled to APFS, you no longer able to read the drive from ANY Mac running older macOS Sierra or ANY version of OS X.
How-To Convert External Drive to APFS
- Start up the Disk Utility on your Macbook once you have connected the external drive.
- Click on the External Drive Folder
- Click on Edit and Choose “Convert to APFS..”
- Confirm by Clicking on Convert to Begin
Should I Consider Upgrading To macOS High Sierra?
If you are on a MacBook that has the solid state drives/flash storage, there is no reason for you to not consider the upgrade. macOS High Sierra has a robust performance. This is particularly noticeable on a MacBook Pro when you are working with large files (copying, moving or editing video files etc).
Since the new OS supports HEVC and HEIF format for videos and photos, they will consume way less storage on your MacBook. iOS 11 also supports these new formats making the interoperability of these images pretty good.
The new Safari features, Notes features and new editing features in Photos make this upgrade a worthwhile effort.
The decision to upgrade to macOS High Sierra, if you are running an older MacBook is not that straight forward. We think it may be better to wait for a little longer if you are purely interested in performance reasons. That’s why we suggest sticking with macOS 10.12 Sierra for a bit more time until Apple works out the kinks for fusion drives.
Once Apple supports auto-conversion of APFS on fusion drives, choose to upgrade then.
However, updating now ensures that you are able to use the new features of this macOS release along with security updates.
Either way, Please remember to backup your machine and preferably use Carbon Cloner to clone it so that you can restore if there are any issues. We have not experienced any major issues with the upgrade.
We hope that these tips were helpful in answering questions around upgrading to macOS High Sierra. Keep us posted on your experiences.
Obsessed with tech since the early arrival of A/UX on Apple, Sudz (SK) is responsible for the editorial direction of AppleToolBox. He is based out of Los Angeles, CA.
Sudz specializes in covering all things macOS, having reviewed dozens of OS X and macOS developments over the years.
In a former life, Sudz worked helping Fortune 100 companies with their technology and business transformation aspirations.