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Archive for the ‘Troubleshooting’ Category

by Tom Nelson

After installing macOS Mojave, does your Mac feel a bit sluggish? Perhaps it’s taking longer to boot, taking longer to save or open files, and launching apps seems to take more time than it used to. Or perhaps your Mac is just experiencing an overall listlessness.

No matter what type of slowdown you’re experiencing, there’s a good chance one of these tips will help get your Mac back on its feet and running the way you remember.

If you’re experiencing slow startups after installing macOS Mojave, you may find one of the tips below will get you back up to speed.

Of course, your Mac may just be at its performance limit. Each new version of the macOS seems to need just a bit more processing, graphics, or disk performance than the last one. To cover that possibility, I’ll include a few upgrade tips that can help you get your Mac back into tip-top shape.

Before you start, make sure you have a recent backup. Some of these tips involve removing files or performing actions that can result in data being removed.

Startup Time Seems Slow
Have you noticed that after installing Mojave, the time it takes for your Mac to start up seems to have taken a nosedive? Surprisingly, this isn’t all that unusual and happens to a small percentage of users after a major macOS upgrade.

There are multiple possible causes, and we’ll look at how to fix them. The problems and fixes are in no particular order, and you don’t need to do every one, but it also won’t hurt to start with the first one and work your way through.

Login Items: Sometimes called the Startup List, this is a list of apps or services that will start up automatically when you log into your Mac. Apps can add items to the list when they’re installed, or you can manually add apps or services you use all the time to the list.

What can happen is the new OS no longer supports one or more items in the list. This results in a delay when you log in as each item tries to launch and then times out. Or the app could still work but takes a long time to launch. The fix is to clean out old unsupported apps and services from the Login Items list.

Removing old or unsupported Login Items can help fix slow startup issues. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

You can find instructions on removing items from the list in the Rocket Yard Guide: macOS 101: What Mojave Broke and How to Fix It.

Reset SMC, NVRAM: The SMC (System Management Controller) takes care of a number of basic functions, including controlling fan speed, power, and a good deal more. During startup, an SMC that is misbehaving or has corrupt information can delay the startup process.

Likewise, the NVRAM (non-volatile random-access memory), which stores configuration information, such as mouse or trackpad settings, keyboard settings, which disk is the startup disk, and a bit more, can slow down the startup process if the stored data is incorrect.

You can reset both the SMC and NVRAM using the Rocket Yard Guide: How to Reset NVRAM, PRAM, SMC on your Mac.

Safe Mode: Safe Mode is primarily a diagnostic startup mode that prevents most third-party items from loading. But it also verifies and repairs, if needed, any issues with the startup drive. In addition, Safe Mode will delete all font caches, kernel caches, and system caches, which are likely candidates for startup slowdowns.

Just starting up in Safe Mode can fix many common slowdown issues. To find out how to use Safe Mode, read: Safe Mode & Single-User Mode: What They Are, How to Use Them.

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by Tom Nelson

One of the first steps in installing macOS Mojave is acquiring the Mojave installer from the App Store. While this is generally an easy process, it can have a few twists and turns that can leave you frustrated.

In this guide, we take a look at:

  • How to download the macOS Mojave installer
  • Problems you may encounter, including how to convert from beta testing to using the release version
  • Other issues you may experience

Before you start downloading, you should check to see if your Mac is able to run Mojave. You will find all the information you need in the Rocket Yard Guide: How to Get Ready for macOS Mojave.

How to Download Mojave

The Mac App Store is the primary host for macOS Mojave, and it’s likely that the new OS will be prominently displayed under the Featured tab. But finding the macOS Mojave tile at the top of the Mac App Store window isn’t guaranteed, especially immediately after Mojave is launched or down the road, when the release of macOS Mojave is yesterday’s news.

You’re much more likely to find macOS Mojave listed in the Quick Links area of the Featured section, either with its own link to the download page, or by using the Apps Made by Apple link. And of course, you can always use the App Store’s Search field if Mojave isn’t showing up in the expected places.

To find macOS Mojave, launch the Mac App Store by selecting the App Store icon in the Dock, or by selecting it from the /Applications folder.

The App Store window will open. Click or tap the Featured button in the toolbar if it isn’t already highlighted.

There’s a good chance that macOS Mojave will be the featured item, displaying prominently at the top of the window. You may also see a button labeled Download directly on the tile; if so, clicking or tapping the button will start the download process.

If you don’t see the download link on the tile featuring macOS Mojave, click or tap the tile to bring up the description page. You’ll find the Download button near the top left. Click or tap the button to start the download process.

When the downloading process is complete, a file called Install macOS Mojave will be present in your /Applications folder. The Mojave installer will also automatically start up once the download is completed. At this point, we suggest you quit the installer in order to perform some housekeeping chores before you start the installation of macOS Mojave.

macOS Mojave may be the featured item, showing up as soon as you launch the App Store. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

How to Download From the New Mac App Store

If you’ve been testing the Mojave beta on your Mac, you’ve probably already discovered the Mac App Store has undergone a substantial update. If you haven’t peeked at the Mac App Store lately, go ahead and launch it, just to get your feet wet.

Because you’re already running macOS Mojave (in the beta form), you won’t see the new OS as a download option in the new Mac App Store. Instead, you’ll be able to update your beta copy to the Gold Master (GM) version using System Preferences. We’ll touch on how to download the GM version in a bit, but first a bit more about the new App Store.

The App Store interface may have changed in macOS Mojave, but the sidebar and its categories are very easy to work with. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The new App Store uses a two-pane interface, with a sidebar on the left and a larger pane on the right. The sidebar contains seven primary categories into which all apps in the store are sorted. When a new macOS version becomes available, you’ll see it promoted in the Discover category. This also happens to be the default category that’s displayed when you launch the App Store.

When you see an app such as a new version of macOS displayed, you can click or tap on its tile to bring up the description page. The Download button has been replaced with one that either shows the price for the app or, if it’s a free app such as the macOS, displays the word Get. Clicking or tapping the price button will change the button text to Buy App; clicking or tapping the Get button will change the button text to Install.

You’ll need to click or tap the Buy App or Install button to start the download process.

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by Tom Nelson

With every new release of the Mac operating system, there always seems to be a few installation errors that are encountered by enough people to make us wonder how the OS managed to get through the beta process. The answer can usually be attributed to the difference in the relatively small number of beta users versus the large number of users downloading and installing a new official release of the macOS. When all those new users start to install the OS, the sheer number of Mac hardware, peripherals, and software makes it very likely that some bug that managed to sneak through the beta process will rear its ugly head in the release version.

No matter which version of the macOS you’re installing, including 10.14 Mojave, there’s a slight chance you may run into one of the problems in this guide.

In this guide, we’re going to look at some of the installation problems that tend to occur with new releases of the Mac operating system. With any luck, you may be able to either correct the issue, allowing you to finish the installation, or prevent the issue from occurring in the first place.

Installation Issues Commonly Seen with macOS
Before we get too far along, I want to point out the obvious: don’t install a new version of the Mac operating system without having a current backup. Some of the installation issues we’re going to mention can cause loss of data. Having a Time Machine backup or a clone of your current system can be a lifesaver. If you don’t have a backup system in place, I highly recommend investing in one before you install a new version of macOS.

You can find a large number of external enclosures, drives, and SSDs, as well as a portable and easily-carried-with-you Envoy Pro EX high performance USB 3 or Thunderbolt bus-powered SSD storage.

With the backup recommendation out of the way, let’s get started with the error messages.

Could Not Write Installation Information to Disk
This message usually shows up as a sheet that drops down from the macOS or OS X installer shortly after you start the install process. It may seem odd but the usual cause is a corrupt installer, and simply deleting the installer app and downloading a new copy will likely fix the issue. The error message seems to occur most often when the Mac installer is downloaded from a third-party site. This is a good reason to download the official copy from the Mac App Store, or join the free public beta program if you want to try out a new version of the Mac OS early.

You can use Disk Utility to repair common boot drive errors that may be keeping you from successfully finishing an installation. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Other possible causes include a damaged boot drive. Try using Disk Utility’s First Aid capabilities to test and repair your disk, as outlined in: First Aid: Verify and Repair HFS+, APFS Drives with Disk Utility.

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by Tom Nelson

Your Mac is probably pretty trouble free, at least most of the time. But occasionally you may experience a system, process, or app crash that stops you in your tracks, and prevents you from continuing to work. These crashes are usually fleeting in nature, and resolved by simply relaunching the app or restarting your Mac.

And while an occasional crash can be frustrating, it’s generally not something to worry too much about. Stuff happens, and you can think of it as one of the many reasons you have a good backup system in place. (You do, don’t you?)

Now, when a crash starts occurring on a more regular basis, or you notice it always happens when x event occurs, it may be time to start delving into the crash and discover what may be causing the problem.

In this Rocket Yard Guide, we’re going to take a look at using the Console app to track down the cause of a system or app crash. With any luck, the Console app will be able to help you resolve the problem that’s causing the crash, or at least give you a good idea of what’s going on.

What is the Console App?
Back in the early years of computing, the console was a terminal that was attached to a computer to monitor the status of the system. If you go back even further, the console may have been a bank of meters, lights, and switches that indicated how well the computer was operating.

The Console app from macOS High Sierra. The sidebar shows devices reporting to the Console, as well as reports organized by category. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Console app included with the Mac is a modern-day version of the old computer console; its primary job is to help you monitor how well your Mac is operating. It can do this because of its ability to display logs, status, and error files your Mac’s operating system and individual apps generate as they’re running.

Log Files
There are a number of different types of files that apps, processes, and the system generate as they work; you can think of them as a journal or diary of what’s going on at any point in time. While there are diagnostic files, crash files, log files, and a few other types, we’re going to refer to them collectively as log files. And for the most part, they can all be read by the Console app.

OS X Yosemite’s Console app displaying the crash log from when a system preference terminated unexpectedly. Turns out the preference pane is from an old version of an app, and is no longer supported. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

The Console app can also look at process messages, and a few other real-time events, but we’re going to concentrate on looking at log files to discover what happened in the past, such as when the system or an app crashed.

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by Tom Nelson

If your Mac seems to suddenly be running hot, with the fans making more noise than usual, your battery runtime has taken a nosedive, or you’ve noticed that your Mac seems to be slowing down, you may be experiencing the effects of cryptojacking.

Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why your Mac could be misbehaving as outlined above; hot summer days can make your Mac run its fans at a higher rate, battery runtime can be affected by the type of processes you’re running, such as video or audio processing, and the Mac’s processors may simply be engaged in running multiple threads from multiple apps, keeping things a bit tied up.

But you could also be a victim of cryptojacking. In this Rocket Yard Guide, we’re going to take a look at cryptocurrency, how it’s mined, and how it may be affecting your Mac.

What Is Cryptojacking? The New, Friendlier Malware
Cryptojacking is a somewhat new way for nefarious individuals to make use of your Mac’s processing power for their own gain. With cryptojacking, the gain is in the acquisition of cryptocurrency coins by having your Mac solve complex mathematical problems. Each solved problem is worth some number of coins or fractions of coins in the cryptocurrency being mined.

Mining for money using your Mac’s hardware without your consent is commonly referred to as cryptojacking. Coin mining is probably best known as the way to acquire Bitcoins, a popular cryptocurrency that has been in use for a number of years. In the early days of coin mining, the tasks a computer had to perform to generate a coin were easy enough that a moderately outfitted personal computer could perform the tasks in a reasonable amount of time. As cryptocurrency become more popular, the difficulty of the problems that needed to be solved increased dramatically, to the point where multiple specially designed computer rigs were being used together to solve the problems and generate cryptocoins in a reasonable timeframe.

As the various cryptocurrencies gained support, the mining of the coins became more and more difficult, so that the days of someone using an average personal computer to solve problems and generate coins went by the wayside. Nowadays, the mining, a common term for solving the problems and generating the coins, is being performed by highly advanced, dedicated mining rigs, or through distributed computing systems that use a large number of individual computers, each working on a piece of the puzzle.

It’s this last mining rig type that has spawned the growth of cryptojacking, using computers that have had mining software installed without the consent of the owner to hijack the computer’s processing power to mine for coins.

Types of Cryptojacking
Cryptojackers use two common methods of manipulating a computer to run mining software. The first, and somewhat less common at the moment, is the old standard malware approach of using a Trojan app to install the mining app on an unsuspecting system. This usually takes the form of a mining app masquerading as another, more popular application. Once the app is downloaded and the installer run, the crypto miner is installed and starts mining for coins.

However, the most likely way for a Mac to run into cryptojacking is through a web browser. The software for mining cryptocurrency has been developed using JavaScript, which every web browser can run. Cryptojackers can insert the JavaScript code into a hacked website, or they can embed the JavaScript mining code within ads which are then placed on many websites.

All you need to do is visit one of these websites, and your Mac will start happily running the cryptocurrency mining code.

For the cryptojacker, using web-based infection has many advantages. It’s easy to do; while they can hack a website and insert the code, they can also just create an ad and place it with an ad service to have it distributed to many websites. Web-based cryptojacking also doesn’t require any type of enticement to get you to download and install a cryptojacking app; instead, the browser runs the mining code for as long as the webpage is open; no installation of code required.

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by Tom Nelson

Disk First Aid, currently part of Disk Utility, has long been the go-to utility for verifying and repairing a Mac’s storage system. Included as a standalone app with the original Mac OS, it was later folded into Disk Utility when OS X was released.

Disk Utility, and its First Aid system remains the first line of defense for drives that are experiencing a number of issues, including:

  • System crashes
  • Files disappearing
  • File sizes changing on their own
  • Inability to copy files
  • Inability to open or save files
  • Startup issues
  • Drives unmounting or ejecting on their own
  • And a host of other errors and issues

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at using Disk Utility’s First Aid tool in macOS High Sierra to repair APFS and HFS+ file systems. First Aid can actually be used on any file system that macOS supports, but APFS and HFS+ are the most popular, and the ones you’re most likely to encounter.

We’ll start by going through the actual process of using First Aid, and then take a more in-depth look at the process; we’ll also provide a few troubleshooting tips.

Before you use First Aid, make sure you have a current backup of the drive or volume you’re having issues with. If you’re using First Aid as part of a routine maintenance program, you should still have a working backup of any volume that you’ll be checking.

The Disk Utility app underwent a few updates with the release of macOS High Sierra to support the APFS file system. If you’re working with OS X El Capitan through macOS Sierra, you may find the instructions in How to Use macOS Sierra Disk Utility to Verify or Repair Disks a better fit.

Disk Utility’s Sidebar in macOS High Sierra and Later
Launch Disk Utility, located at /Applications/Utilities.

Disk Utility’s default settings use a sidebar that only displays storage volumes. Since you may need to use the First Aid tool on volumes as well as partitions, catalogs, and physical devices, it’s a good idea to change the sidebar settings to display all devices.

The View button in Disk Utility’s toolbar will expand the sidebar to show all devices. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Click the View button in the Disk Utility toolbar and select Show All Devices from the popup menu, or select Show All Devices from the View menu.

The sidebar will now display all devices, including the physical drive and any APFS containers it may have, as well as any APFS or HFS volumes associated with the physical drive.

The organization of the devices is hierarchical, with the physical drive listed first, using the manufacturer’s name, or the model name or number, or both. At the next level under the physical drive is the Container (APFS file system), followed by the volumes. If this is an HFS-formatted drive, there won’t be any containers under the drive level, just volumes.

Each item can be selected and repaired using the First Aid tool.

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by Coyote Moon, Inc.

If you’ll forgive us for bragging a little, our resident Mac expert, Tom Nelson, recently took the top spot in MacSales.com’s Year in Review: The 10 Most Popular Rocket Yard Posts of 2017. As a matter of fact, he nabbed the 3rd, 4th, and 5th spots, too.

Tom was also awarded two of the five Editor’s Picks. We may have to enlarge our offices, so his swelled head can fit through the doors and halls. Actually, Tom is the modest type, so we have to toot his horn for him, and we’re happy to do it.

Here’s the original article:

Year in Review: The 10 Most Popular Rocket Yard Posts of 2017
Author:

The year 2017 was a big one for tech enthusiasts. New gear and software news – both good and not-so-good – dominated the headlines.

So which news articles and tech tips most caught the interest of Rocket Yard readers? These are the top 10 most read articles of the year!

1) Common Problems During and After macOS High Sierra Installation

The beautiful default wallpaper of High Sierra
Despite going through the typical beta process, macOS 10.13 High Sierra didn’t quite have all the kinks worked out upon release. We outlined some of the most common issues that users faced during and after macOS High Sierra installation.


2) Translating Apple’s New High Sierra & APFS Compatibility Document

Apple File System
With macOS High Sierra came the much-hyped Apple File System, or simply APFS. But this confused both beginner and some seasoned Mac users alike. The Rocket Yard took the opportunity to translate Apple’s High Sierra & APFS compatibility document.


3) Tech Tip: How to Use Boot Camp on an External Drive

Three available tasks for Boot Camp Assistant
As author Tom Nelson wrote “Installing Windows on an external drive would be a great solution to the problem of available space, but as we said, Boot Camp and Windows impose a restriction on installing to an external drive – or do they?” Check out the article to find out more!


4) How to Combine Multiple Photos Libraries Into a Single Library


Managing multiple Photos libraries is a common problem among Mac users. We wanted to create a single guide to help users combine all of those libraries into a single library. See how it’s done inside.


5) macOS 101: What High Sierra Broke and How to Fix It


With almost any new operating system, new problems seem to crop up upon install and things just don’t work like they used to. We outlined some of the most reported issues caused by High Sierra and how to fix them. Our readers also commented with problems of their own.


The Rest of the Best:

6) Understanding macOS Server Part 1: Background and Setup

7) Create a Bootable macOS High Sierra Install Drive with DiskMaker X 7

8) Apps With Known High Sierra Compatibility Issues

9) Unboxing and Teardown of the 2017 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K

10) Three Ways to Remotely Access and Control a Mac


Editor’s Picks: 

 OWC Tears Down the iMac Pro, Announces Future Memory Upgrade Programs

 Commentary: Mac Pro Users Spoke and Apple Listened

 Rocket Yard Testing Lab: Battle of the Mac Browsers (And One Beta)

 Data Privacy Day: Keep Your Data Safe From Prying Eyes with FileVault

• Quick Tip: View All Mac OS Terminal Commands and What They Do

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by Tom Nelson

You just turned on your Mac and all you see is a dark display. That’s OK; you know it can sometimes take a little while for your Mac to boot up. But after a minute or two, you start to think something is dreadfully wrong with your Mac. Let’s take a look at the possible causes of a moribund Mac, and what we can do to fix them.

Check the Basics
We’ll start our troubleshooting by checking a few basics. I suppose this step is a bit out of order from a logically flowing troubleshooting process, but hey, it’s the simple stuff that most often causes these types of problems, so let’s start there.

If you’re using an external display, check to make sure it’s turned on: While you’re at it, make sure the video cable is seated properly at both the display and the Mac ends of the cable. Check the power cable as well. If either cable is loose or unplugged, the dog did it; at least that’s what the cat always says. Regardless of who was responsible, if it’s loose, you need to reconnect the cable firmly at both ends.

Check that the display’s brightness is turned up to a reasonable level: This applies to both external displays, which will usually have one or more buttons on the monitor to adjust the display (check the monitor’s manual for instructions), and those built in to your Mac. On an Apple-supplied keyboard, including those built in to a MacBook, the F1 (decrease) and F2 (increase) keys are used to adjust the brightness. On non-Apple keyboards, the F14 (decrease) and F15 (increase) keys will adjust the brightness.

Is the power turned on?: You already verified that the display is turned on, but you should also make sure that both your Mac and its display actually have power. Check to see if the power cables are plugged in, and make sure that any power strip or UPS that the display or your Mac is plugged into is also turned on. If you’re not sure if the power is on, try plugging a known good device, such as a lamp, into the same plug that your Mac or display uses.

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Once you’re sure your Mac and its display are connected properly to a power source, the appropriate cables are connected, and the display’s brightness is at a reasonable level, it’s time to move on to more detailed troubleshooting.

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by Tom Nelson

You just upgraded to macOS High Sierra and you’re amazed at the overall performance improvement you’re experiencing on your Mac.

OK, I just made that up. Most of the time, upgrading to a new version of the Mac operating system doesn’t bring performance increases. In most cases, performance remains about the same, with any efficiencies in the new OS offset by new features that take more than their fair share of your Mac’s resources.

But sometimes after installing a new OS, your Mac may seem to have had its performance rug pulled out from under it. Luckily, such problems are usually temporary or easy to fix. If you’re experiencing speed issues after installing macOS High Sierra, give these tips a try.

Spotlight Slowing Things Down
One of the perennial performance hits that occurs after a Mac operating system upgrade is Spotlight indexing the startup drive, or for that matter, any new drive(s) you may have added recently. The indexing process can really slow things down after an upgrade since the startup drive had a lot of information changed on it.

Adding a drive to Spotlight’s Privacy tab prevents it from indexing the volume. Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Spotlight needs to build an accurate index of the files on your Mac so that search results are fast and correct. Thankfully, this is only a temporary problem. Once the indexing is finished, your Mac’s performance should return to normal.

If you can’t wait for the indexing to be done, you can disable indexing using these instructions:

Launch System Preferences, and select the Spotlight Preference Pane.

In the Spotlight window, select the Privacy tab.

Click the plus (+) button in the bottom left corner of the window.

In the list that opens, use the sidebar to select your Mac (it will be listed under Devices), and then select the startup drive, usually named Macintosh HD. Click the Choose button.

You’ll be asked if you really want to prevent Spotlight from searching in Macintosh HD. Click the OK button.

The startup drive will be added to the Spotlight privacy list and indexing for the drive will stop.

You should only add the startup drive to the privacy list as a temporary measure. I highly recommend that you remove the startup drive from the privacy list as soon as possible to ensure that all of the Mac’s search functions will work correctly.

To remove the startup drive and allow indexing to continue, select it from the Privacy tab and click the minus (-) button.

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by Tom Nelson

It’s almost become a tradition; one we wish we didn’t have to put up with. It seems with each new release of the Mac operating system, there are some features that just don’t seem to work the way they used to. The tradition lives on with macOS High Sierra, so we’re gathering a list of what High Sierra broke and how to fix it (when you can).

Screen shot © Coyote Moon, Inc.

Drive Encryption Can Change Formatting
Encrypting an entire drive to add a level of security has been an easy task in the Mac OS ever since FileVault 2 was released as part of OS X Lion. Full disk encryption has been a boon for Mac users who worry about their personal data being easily accessible on their Macs or external drives. This is especially true for portable Mac users, who need to worry about their Macs being lost or stolen.

macOS High Sierra continues to support full disk encryption, but Mike Bombich, who created Carbon Copy Cloner, has verified a bug in High Sierra that will cause an external drive to have its format changed from HFS+ to APFS when the drive is encrypted in High Sierra.

Enabling encryption on a drive should not alter the underlying drive format. If the drive was HFS+ (Hierarchical File System) before you chose to encrypt it, it should remain an HFS+ drive afterwards. The same is true for APFS (Apple File System) formatted drives; choosing the encryption option shouldn’t change the APFS format of the drive.

Related: A Note On High Sierra Compatibility with Third Party SSDs

Under certain conditions, encrypting a drive will modify the format to APFS without the user being aware of the changes.

The specific conditions are:

  • Must be an external drive
  • Must not have a Mac operating system installed on the drive

If these two conditions are met, and you select the option to encrypt the drive, by right-clicking the drive icon and selecting Encrypt from the popup menu, the drive will be converted to APFS format and then encrypted.

Even though the drive has been converted to APFS and encrypted, it will continue to work just fine with your Mac running macOS High Sierra. The problem comes about should you ever connect the drive to a Mac running an earlier version of the Mac operating system, or if you boot your Mac to an earlier version of the OS. In either case, the external drive won’t be recognizable by the older operating system.

Our recommendation is not to encrypt your external drive, unless converting to APFS is acceptable to you, and you have no plans to use the drive with earlier versions of the Mac operating system.

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