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The Right Time to Upgrade Your Mac OS

double monitor mac computer dark room little desk light

Contrary to popular belief, sometimes your Mac still needs IT support. Hear us out. The maintenance and support needed might be different than other computers but let’s take a look at a recent example that affected our clients and many others. When Apple released the new macOS major release, Big Sur, there were incompatibilities with the popular video conferencing application, Zoom. These incompatibilities created a situation where some people using Zoom couldn’t effectively present their screens or, in essence, complete their job functions. This was a major problem for some companies who are working remotely; many at this point. 

While many of us want the latest technology with the most updated operating system, we would caution against rushing into the major releases of new operating systems because they can cause these types of issues if implemented too soon. Remember that the operating system manages memory, processes, all software and hardware on your machine so you could say it has a pretty important job. So instead of rushing to install the latest and greatest when there is a major release, we offer these options to help navigate when is the right time to upgrade your Mac OS vs. wait it out.

  1. Understand if the release is a major release or security patch. We still highly recommend keeping the setting that allows for automatic updates. This setting will keep the security patches and smaller releases up to date. Generally, those are safe and important in keeping your computer safe and running. However, for major releases, like Big Sur, Apple will ensure you approve the release before updating. This is when we need to take a pause and evaluate.
  2. Test it out. It is always a best practice to have one or two of your users test out the new release before rolling out to your entire employee base. This will give visibility into how the operating system functions with the applications your teams use. 
  3. Wait until the next minor version is released. When a first release comes out, Apple will recognize if there are any significant challenges pretty quickly. When they have released the XX.1 version, they will have caught some of the first bugs. This is a safer choice than installing immediately. 
  4. Increase control over installations. As your business grows, at some point, you’ll want to consider implementing a remote management policy across your employee base. This will ensure that machines will rollout the new versions after it has been tested and verified by you or an administrator. When employees can upgrade on their own schedule, this could cause challenges if there are incompatibility issues. Risk increases without some controls in place. 
  5. Ask for help. When you’re not sure if you should be upgrading, it is always a good idea to ask an expert whether it is recommended or not yet. Rely on your internal IT staff or your managed service provider (MSP), like Firefly, to make sure that there aren’t any major red flags. A partner like this will have the benefit of observing many users across organizations and applications to spot anything alarming that you might not see within your own organization only. We, at Firefly, are looking across 170+ clients and love answering all of our clients’ questions, especially when they are looking for proactive advice. In addition, a partner will be able to alert you of an issue before you even know there could be a problem. 

Overall, it is important to recognize that a major release of the macOS should not be taken lightly. When one is released, take pause, test and determine the right time to upgrade your Mac OS for your organization specifically. While Mac systems can be lower maintenance, there are some occasions where careful attention is needed and upgrading on a major release is one of them.

If you need help with your macOS upgrades or other system needs, we’d welcome the chance to discuss and see how we can help.

Author avatar
Adam Jones