Tuesday, October 2, 2018

How Do I Create Multiple MacOS Volumes or Partitions on an SSD or Hard Drive with APFS?

Generally, when you have an SSD or hard drive formatted with the new Apple File System (APFS), you only want a single partition on it. You can then create multiple "volumes" within that partition. These volumes act just like partitions, except they share a single partition's space among themselves as needed. This avoids the kind of wasted space you always get with multiple drive partitions and their rigid size allocations.

The problem comes when you want to place more than one copy of a recent MacOS version on the drive -- say, both High Sierra and Mojave, or even duplicates of either one for testing or easy backup. An APFS volume with MacOS installed is accompanied in that same partition by three hidden, associated volumes, including the Recovery volume. Place another MacOS volume in that partition, and your system and utilities can become confused.

So, in this case, you do have to partition the drive instead of adding volumes. But on trying to, you may run into quirks and bugs in MacOS and Disk Utility, and possibly in your cloning app.

I'm no expert on this, but after trying several schemes and finally succeeding, I'll tell you the way things look to me. Keep in mind, though, that some conclusions may apply only to my own hardware and software setup. I was using Disk Utility and SuperDuper in High Sierra on a 2010 Mac Pro, and one of the SSDs was years old, branded by Apple itself.

-- If an APFS partition has multiple volumes, you can't use Disk Utility functions on ANY of them unless you're booted from a volume in that partition. If you're not, Disk Utility can't unmount them.

-- Because of the hidden volumes, you cannot reliably place a second MacOS volume within an APFS partition. Though you can boot from either one, this caused a freeze for me when running Disk Utility First Aid on the second one.

-- Again because of the hidden volumes, you cannot reliably create a second APFS partition by splitting one that already hosts a MacOS volume. This too caused a freeze during Disk Utility First Aid.

-- You cannot copy MacOS between one volume and another in the same partition if it contains the boot volume, because the Recovery volume is locked. (Thanks to Dave Ninian of Shirt Pocket for the explanation.)

-- At least in some cases, APFS partitions have minimum sizes -- a fact I have not seen mentioned anywhere. A partition with a MacOS volume must be at least 240GB, even in the absense of backup snapshots. How this minimum is affected by other types and numbers of volumes in the partition, I haven't tested.

So, after all that, what CAN you count on doing? I believe the most reliable plan is to set up the drive with one APFS partition for each MacOS copy you'll need, and to do it BEFORE you clone MacOS into any of them. Make each partition at least 240GB.

And if the drive already hosts a MacOS volume? Boot into that volume, then try to partition the disk with one or more new, NON-APFS volumes. For instance, for Format on the new partitions, tell Disk Utility to use MacOS Extended (Journaled), the format of Apple's old file system, HFS+. Then once those partitions are created, use Disk Utility again to erase each of them with the APFS format instead.

Either of these methods will create APFS partitions with NO hidden volumes to start with. Then, when you clone MacOS into them, the hidden volumes will be created correctly, and you should have no trouble at all.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

What Do I Do Since My Adobe Creative Cloud Desktop Failed to Update on my Mac?

Adobe installers and updaters and authorization schemes have always been the pits, and I recently had another major run-in with them. I'd read about another round of updates for the Creative Cloud apps, and I fired up the CC desktop app to collect them. What I got instead was the desktop app itself trying and failing to update itself, with this message:

"Creative Cloud desktop failed to update (Error code: 1001)."

There was a Cancel button, which led to another screen allowing me to retry the installation or quit. So, I tried again . . . and again . . . and again. Each time I got the same error message, and always at the 43% mark. And unfortunately, the "install or quit" screen gave no other option. In other words, there was no way to bypass the desktop update and go on to updating the other apps. If I couldn't update the desktop, I couldn't update anything.

Following Adobe's instructions, I then uninstalled the desktop app and reinstalled with the downloaded installer found at

https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/desktop-app.html

No dice. Same error, still at around 43% -- though this time the progress was shown as being divided between download and installation. The error occurred right at the beginning of installation.

So, I went to Adobe's next level of instructions. I removed the app again, but this time with the CC Cleaner Tool. Well, maybe I did something wrong, and maybe I didn't, but it removed ALL my CC apps -- and the desktop app STILL wouldn't install. So, with no way of downloading the apps again through the CC desktop, I wound up restoring everything with Time Machine. And that included the outdated desktop app itself, since without it, the apps' authorization scheme would eventually shut them all down.

OK, time to start surfing the Web. I spent hours over a period of weeks. I tried nuking a multitude of files and folders mentioned as possibly related to the problem, and others I found on my own. I even tried repairing permissions -- something not easy to do in recent versions of Mac OS. Still failing at 43%.

At one point, I figured maybe I could bypass the desktop app entirely, and sure enough, I learned I could download the individual CC apps from Adobe's Web site. So, I downloaded Photoshop and installed it -- and discovered they'd given me a version that was half a year old. That was older than the version I'd replaced! Again, I had to go to Time Machine to restore.

At last I found an Adobe forum participant, Brucgovn, who had posted about reinstalling the desktop app and turned out to know what he was talking about. Actually, his recommended procedure included more than was needed -- including using the CC Cleaner Tool -- but his post did identify possible problem folders that I hadn't seen mentioned anywhere else.

Removing all his specified folders -- nothing more -- finally made it possible to reinstall the desktop app with the downloaded installer. And then the desktop app updated all the rest. (Including Camera Raw, to a buggy version I wound up having to revert.)

So, here they are -- the folders I removed from my boot volume to fix the error. Keep in mind that your problem might not be identical, so this list might not be enough for you. But at least it will give you a better starting point than I had. (The Adobe Sync folder was not in Brucgovn's instructions -- and I didn't remove it this final time -- but it's another one replaced by the desktop installer, so it probably belongs on the list.)

/Applications/Adobe Creative Cloud
/Applications/Utilities/Adobe Creative Cloud
/Applications/Utilities/Adobe Application Manager
/Applications/Utilities/Adobe Sync
/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AAMUpdater
/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AdobeApplicationManager
/Library/Application Support/Adobe/OOBE
/Users/[Your Username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AAMUpdater
/Users/[Your Username]/Library/Application Support/Adobe/OOBE

You should also remove Applications and Utilities folders with names like "Adobe Creative Cloud 8.55.06 AM." These are just useless leftovers from failed installations.

Since there's no guarantee this list will work in your case, be sure to retain a copy of each folder, so you can restore it if something goes wrong. That includes preserving all folder and file permissions, because the files might not work otherwise! Ways that will preserve them include backing up to Time Machine, leaving the folders in place but renaming them, and even dragging to the Trash, where you can later use the right-click menu command "Put Back" -- unless, of course, you've emptied the Trash in the meantime.

Good luck!