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This is... significant.

Upgrading a Mac to macOS Big Sur without enough space can result in data loss

After noticing several reports from users on the web, Mr. Macintoshfound out that the macOS Big Sur installer isn’t checking whether the Mac’s internal storage has enough free space. As the system initiates the update process, the Mac becomes unresponsive, and data can be permanently corrupted.​
Apple says upgrading to macOS Big Sur for the first time requires at least 35.5 GB of available storage — and this doesn’t include the 13 GB macOS Big Sur installer. Unfortunately, even if your Mac does not have 35.5 GB of storage available, macOS will try to install the Big Sur update, and that’s when users may lose all their data.​
(9to5mac)​
 

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As the system initiates the update process, the Mac becomes unresponsive, and data can be permanently corrupted.
That's a pretty bad sloppy mistake on apple's behalf, but as all well-experienced Mac users say, don't even think of doing any major OS upgrade without a current working backup or clone.

I hope apple still includes the warning to do so, but then so many seem to like skipping the important installation read me as well.

It's almost like leading your horse to the watering hole, but you can't always make it drink...


- Patrick
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Worst thing that ever happened to me was a corrupt OS update that took a long time to complete. When I stepped away, the update completed and Carbon Copy Cloner then dutifully backed up the corrupt update, obliterating my good backup.
 

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Worst thing that ever happened to me was a corrupt OS update that took a long time to complete. When I stepped away, the update completed and Carbon Copy Cloner then dutifully backed up the corrupt update, obliterating my good backup.
To hopefully avoid such situations, I keep 2 current CarbonCopy bootable clones, but the backup drives are seldom mounted and each one is updated on alternate weeks. Some Mac users would say that two it's not enough and I would tend to agree, especially if it is critical information or stuff one really wants to keep.

That's a bummer that you lost your good backup, but I'll bet that was the last time that will ever happen!!! 😉 😉



- Patrick
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Worst thing that ever happened to me was a corrupt OS update that took a long time to complete. When I stepped away, the update completed and Carbon Copy Cloner then dutifully backed up the corrupt update, obliterating my good backup.
I never ever use automated back-ups for that very reason. OS back-ups are to disc image rather than clone. Slower to create, but several can be stored on the same partition and if needed I can go back further than the most recent disc image. By Keeping the OS on its own partition, separate from everyday files, I can do a complete OS erase and restore in about 15 minutes with no risk to my routine file structure.

May be old school but it works well for me. File back-ups are simple drag and drop as needed.
 
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