It's all Mountain Lion-palooza up in here on the tech webs today, as Apple's latest OS X release leaps onto the scene. And as exciting as it can be to upgrade your system to a sexy new OS version, you don't want to rush into anything without taking the proper precautions.

Any geek worth his or her salt knows the three blood-chilling words that can come into play here: Borked update process. Don't let it happen to you. Cult of Mac published a guide to preparing your Mac for Mountain Lion, so let it be a handy reminder on what to do before the big cat pounces.

1) Check that your system meets the minimum requirements. In order to update to 10.8, your computer must be one of the following:

• MacBook (Late 2008 Aluminum, or Early 2009 or newer)
• MacBook Pro (Mid/Late 2007 or newer)
• MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
• iMac (Mid 2007 or newer)
• Mac mini (Early 2009 or newer)
• Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer) • Xserve (Early 2009)

It also needs to have at least 2GB RAM (4GB or more preferred) and at least 8GB of free hard drive space. (To check this, go into the Apple menu, choose "About This Mac" and click the "More Info" button.)

2) Make sure your Mac is updated to the latest version of Lion (10.7). It's easy with Software Update (in System Preferences or in the Apple menu). Note: Users with the latest Snow Leopard 10.6.8 will also be able to install Mountain Lion, but the same model restrictions and system requirements apply.

3) Vet your essential third-party software for compatibility. Obviously applications from Apple will do just fine with Mountain Lion, but what about the others? You don't want to update to 10.8, only to discover that it broke the crucial software you need for your job/business/passion project. This goes for programs, plug-ins or any other bits that you rely on. To help make easier work of this tedious task, check out Roaring Apps, which has a running compatibility list for many, many popular applications. (Adobe Photoshop, for example, can be kind of dicey, depending on which version you use. Same goes for the rest of the Creative Suite.)

4) Back-up, back-up, back-up. Frankly, given that Time Machine is baked into OS X, there's just no good excuse for not backing up your system. That's true in any case, but especially during an OS upgrade. So use Time Machine with that connected external hard drive or Time Capsule, a cloud back-up or another solution — whatever you're comfortable with. But just back that sucker up.

5) Optional step: Clean up around the joint, why don't ya? There's no better time to make sure your system is clean and optimized than when it's about to get a snazzy new OS X version, so trash those random files, perform a disk permissions check/repair and update all your software (not just the native Apple programs).

Final reminder for new Mac owners: If you bought your system on June 11, 2012, or after, you can get Mountain Lion for free, so don't get ahead of yourself and rush in to pay for it. While $19.99 isn't an enormous sum of money, wouldn't you rather blow it on some cool new software for your new Mountain Lion system instead? To claim your freebie, be sure to hit up this page within 30 days of OS 10.8's launch.

[via Cult of Mac]

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