I've been using my G5 for almost 2 years now, and while it's still humming along great, I'm finding way too many crashes and too much instability. I really want to wipe my drives and start over, but I'm afraid I'm going to get stuck in a situation where I have my whole system down. Is there a way to make a perfect disk image that I could revert to before I do this opperation? I don't want to ruin all my authorizations I've worked so hard to get!!!
You shouldn't have to reformat the hard drive in OSX. Make sure you are repairing disks permissions anytime you update your OS and it is good idea to do it once a week anyway. Also get a copy of macjanitor at versiontracker.com and run that once in a while. It does what OSX does at 2:30 am every morning if it's running then. That's when unix cleans itself and it also cleans things up when it boots. If you think your apps are messed up then a reinstall should work.
Soundsmith is right that a disk image of a system that's not working isn't much use. However, you definitely want to make an image before you start over, so at the very worst you can go back to what you have now. To be safe, start up from the image to make sure it's good before you turn the corner.
Now, you *shouldn't* have to do anything drastic in OS X, but nonetheless I had to copy over my back-up disk image one time. For some reason one of my monitors, the one connected by DVI, wasn't working properly. Boy was I glad I had the image.
There are two programs that make disk images: Carbon Copy Cloner (www.bombich.com) and SuperDuper (www.shirtpocket.com). The former is free, the latter pretty cheap shareware. I use SuperDuper for writing incremental back-ups to a Firewire drive I have online only for that purpose.
Oh, and the Apple Disk Utility in your Utilities folder can make an image too, but if I remember right you can't boot from it. I could remember wrong, though, so don't listen to me.
However, these disk images aren't bit-for-bit backups of the entire drive or partition - there are still sectors that some copy protection lurks in. In OS 9 you could make exact images, but I don't know of a utility that does this in OS X.
Also, if you reinstall the OS, you will have to reauthorize some software such as Native Instruments. It doesn't mind if you copy over a back-up disk image, though, since that stuff is in those secret sectors.
So the trick is to get your system working and then make disk images! It usually takes between five and 15 minutes to make an incremental image of my 160GB system drive (i.e. just the files that have changed get copied over), it's unattended once you start it, and that means you never have to troubleshoot if things get really bad - you just copy over the image and go back to work.
I know the image will include the flaws, but I want some insurance to insure I won't be completely down. I've got to make sure I've got all my install disks, and I can get all my authorizations back. This is the only reason I didn't do this months ago. I know I've got to do it though because i've got too many weird things happening.
Here's my question, if I trash everything on my main drive but I don't reformat, will all my authorizations stay on the drive?
Another question, if I make a disk image and have to revert, will my authorizations revert too? Or will I have lost them? That's what I can't risk. I can't risk everything being GONE GONE!!
Your auths won't be part of the disk image at all - they're simply not copied over - but if you replace your OS then at least some of your auths are going to want to be done over. But if you just revert, your auths should remain intact. *Should* - they did when I had to do it.
By the way, I was absolutely suggesting you make a disk image before doing this even though it contains the flaws. You're right to want insurance to ensure (not insure) that you're not totally out of luck.