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Dealing with macOS HighSierra: Don’t Use It

See the MPG Mac wish list and MPG wishlists for computer gear at OWC.

At, I’ve stressed for a few months now to not install macOS HighSierra, but I went through a day of software hell yesterday when I installed it.

Why install it when I recommend against it? Well, I wanted to install macOS High Sierra like I want a double root canal and IRS audit on the same day, but to compare the new iMac Pro (coming very soon) against the 2017 iMac 5K, both will have to be on macOS HighSierra for comparative tests to be valid.

I’m on my 5th install of macOS HighSierra, working around bug after bug and unwanted behavior. Apple’s software manure cost me an entire day so far.

This time, I’m installing on an external SSD, which I will clone back onto the internal SSD Boot volume, which I’ve formatted as HFS Plus, thus avoiding the APFS headache—Apple forcibly converts any internal SSD to APFS, partitioned or not—don’t 'go there'.

As for APFS... it is a disaster to avoid at all costs, if only for performance (100X slower for folder copies sound good to you?), but also for the nil possibility of data recovery should something go wrong. I recommend NOT installing macOS HighSierra for at least 6 months.

Recommended reading:

David C writes:

File system performance: an area you probably don’t exercise much is deletion of a large number of files. I had occasion to compare times deleting a large tree of source code and build products on winblows and linux (tens of thousands of files). of course the products aren’t identical, but the *number* of files was very close and the files initially fetched from source code control were exactly the same. Part of testing involved building that big tree, running automated regression tests then deleting, checking out and building, ad nauseum. starting from scratch ensured you knew what you were building from. duh. Deleting that tree of tens of thousands of files took a few seconds on linux and 5 minutes or more with ntfs on winblows. It felt as if you had time to go out for that root canal with room to spare. ntfs is classic microbloat: “we’ll do it ourselves!” then start pumping hot air into it. mind you this was more than a decade ago, but the scars remain.

Apple drives me crazy, but all I have to do to remind myself to stay with them is recall all the years of painful multi-platform builds and support that involved winblows as one of the platforms. it’s like that old joke about our form of government: the worst on the planet except for all the rest of them.

But couldn’t they have done better than APFS? a long time ago I thought ZFS was promising, but after spending some years on the port (10 years ago now) apple decided not to go there, whether due to ego, performance or the weight of history I don’t know.Torvalds once said “HFS+ is probably the worst file-system ever.”, but apparently he didn’t consider the FAT file system when he was sorting them, maybe too far in the antediluvian.


I likewise have not had problems with HFS+. I don’t really push it at home, but for my last employer we were building nightly on winblows/linux/osx; the build system was huge, complex, and ridiculous, but HFS+ was not one of the issues.

I now am in the pleasant position of having zero winblows machines in the house or in possession of people for whom I am tech support. for me any product that requires winblows to run is a non-starter. I guess apple could drive me away, but until there is a viable replacement for lightroom running on something besides winblows and osx I don’t see it happening. it’s a little uncomfortable being married to adobe, but there it is.

From your experience APFS is going to be a problem with my next machine, but unlike you my livelihood doesn’t depend upon it. it is astounding that a company with nearly infinite resources like apple could put out junk, but of course we have M$ as a warmup. now that they have, what are the prospects for fixing it? it seems unlikely that a 10 line patch somewhere is going to make everything all better. Couldn’t they afford to do performance testing? Two orders of magnitude slower copying isn’t exactly a nit you wouldn’t notice. simple stuff like basic ordinary raw copy performance is easy to test down to way less than 2 orders of magnitude.

After a bit of reading…APFS *still* defaults to case insensitive? *I* am case insensitive when typing and reading, but as I remember it ‘A’ and ‘a’ have different ascii values. I guess insensitivity is a bow to generations of lazy programmers, another fun little tidbit you run into occasionally with cross-platform software development.

DIGLLOYD: I actually delete large numbers of files fairly often. The Finder is awful at it; my own program can wipe and delete small files as fast as the Finder can delete them (without wiping). So HFS Plus is actually quite fast at deletion but crap-software like the Finder makes the file system look bad.

100X file copy slowdown presumably not the usual, but file copying way slower for sure. I don't know why it was so slow in that case, and I’m not going to look into it further, since I’ve wiped out APFS and reverted to HFS Plus on my new 2017 iMac 5K.

I actually am pretty happy with HFS Plus; it has served me well for many years.

As for case-sensitivity, I’d prefer that, but all hell would break loose in 3rd-party apps, and probably some Apple applications as well. So it is best avoided.

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