Should You Update To El Capitan?


Apple certainly can be a noodge about updating to its latest OS (operating system), El Capitan, X.11. Whether it’s the annoying red number that is part of the App Store icon or the notification that constantly appears in the upper right corner of your screen, Apple certainly isn’t shy about hectoring you to upgrade. But should you?

Anybody who has worked with me for any length of time knows I’m the last one to tell clients to upgrade for the sake of upgrading. I upgrade as soon as a new version is released, but that’s my job. By using newly updated software on a regular basis, I get a pretty good feel for the advantages as well as any flaws of the update.

First of all, you should check that you have enough RAM. Simply pull down on the apple in the upper left corner of the screen and select ABOUT THIS MAC. You’ll quickly be able to tell the amount of installed RAM on this pane. (See below.)

About This Mac

A minimum of 4GB is recommended; I say double that, if possible. RAM is extremely inexpensive as compared to prices in the past, so consider maxing out your computer. (See my blog post from July 2013 here.) In addition, a minimum of 6GB of hard drive space is also required.

On the plus side, El Capitan gives you a bunch of remedies that you probably won’t notice on a daily basis. These include fixing a WiFi glitch that plagued Yosemite (OS X.10) users, an automatic permissions repair process and a bunch of security patches. Bottom line – it’s mostly stuff that’s important behind the scenes but helps your Mac run more effectively. Between the download and installation process, plan on it taking around an hour.

Liabilities of installing El Capitan:

If you’re still using iPhoto to store your pictures, then you should avoid upgrading until you’re ready to deal with Apple’s Photos application. (See my blog post from April 2015 for more information on Photos.) Furthermore, I would advise against installing on computers from 2011 and earlier, despite what Apple says.

Bottom line: Not necessary, but if you’re into keeping up to date and having the latest and greatest software installed, go for it. If you don’t plan on upgrading and everything is working well, then no harm, no foul.

* Needless to say, never perform ANY upgrade without confirming you have a recent backup of all of the data on your computer.