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Mac Pro Sierra OS Update - A Nightmare with a Happy Ending!

For the first time in several years I had no on-going/overlapping client video projects. Amazing! I'm also about to start several big client projects that will run for many months. So I took the opportunity to try to update my main editing system (of 4), the new Mac Pro (3Ghz, 8-Core, 32GB RAM with twin D700s) that was running Adobe Creative Cloud 2014 with Mavericks (10.9.5). I decided to go to Sierra (10.12.4) and Adobe CC2017. Upgrading the OS would also finally allow me to try the latest version of FCPX (10.3.2), as I was stuck at FCPX 10.2 with the Mavericks my nMP was running since it arrived in August 2014. Adobe CC2017 has a number of new, useful features that have been added incrementally over the last 2-3 years that I've also been interested to try. And now that the subscription price has gone up I thought I might as well get my moneys worth!

Note: I was reluctant to upgrade whilst in the middle of important and on-going client projects for reasons any video professional will understand - I always "lock down" my editing Mac Pros once I've got everything working how I want, often for a period of 2-3 years. In fact my old ("Classic") Mac Pro is still running Mountain Lion and Adobe CS6 Production Premium (as well as old style Final Cut Studio, FCP 6.0.6 etc. - although I never use that now).

Anyway, I finally had my chance to update! So I did one more Time Machine backup and, as I regularly do, created a bootable disc image on an external USB3 HDD (in an Icy Dock) of the nMP's 512GB SSD - using Carbon Copy Cloner.

Then, last Saturday, I downloaded Sierra 10.12.4 from the App Store and went to install it. All seemed to be progressing well. My nMP re-booted itself during the fairly lengthy process and after a period of about 30 minutes then shut down. I thought that was odd…so I rebooted it. All I got was a Mac OS installation screen which started at 29 minutes, ran to 28 minutes and then froze - eventually going to a grey or black screen - it just would not install! Tried numerous times, PRAM resets etc. etc. Looked on the web and saw quite a few people with Sierra installation issues but nothing they suggested worked for me. Occasionally, I'd get a black screen with the Apple logo and a stuck progress bar - but nothing else.

Feeling worried (but only a little as I had those external back-ups, remember) I then tried booting into the recovery screen - but there was no way I could locate the SSD. Spent quite a few hours during last Sunday trying to find out what was wrong but I finally accepted defeat/that I was out of my depth.

So I made an online appointment and took the nMP to the Apple Genius Bar in Cambridge on Monday morning. They soon discovered that my SSD had completely failed at some point during the Sierra installation process. Fortunately, because this nMP was 30 months old it was still covered by the AppleCare warranty I bought with it. Just as well as it would have cost £714 for Apple to replace the 512GB SSD otherwise! I have to say the Genius Bar were brilliantly helpful and I got my nMP back within 24hrs, all working as it should with a fresh install of Sierra OS 10.12.4. Phew!

Helped by all the back-ups I had, this last week I've spent a couple of days re-loading/updating all my NLE and other software, drivers etc. - and so far so good. Also, because of careful project and media management on all my studio's external G-Tech G-RAID systems, I was especially pleased to be able to open any Adobe CC2014 Premier Pro projects within CC2017. This was the result I had hoped for, obviously, but until you try it you never really know! All it does is tell you that it needs to convert the file and then offers to save it with a new name - Perfect! By the way, I have many dozens of Terabytes of drives with media on - I back up all media in triplicate, with just the projects I'm currently working on loaded onto a G-Tech G-Speed Studio R RAID5 Thunderbolt 2 unit.

So I'm back up and running with Sierra and Adobe CC2017 and ready for my new projects - the first of which starts next week! I also now have an inclination to experiment with FCPX (and I may even try Resolve too as and when I get the time).

Finally, it wasn't until I experienced this SSD failure that I found out that they are no more reliable than spinning HDDs
. Fortunately, for me it happened at a non-critical time/not mid-project. So, if you've just read the above, when was the last time you created an external back-up of your Mac? Maybe now would be a very good time to do it!