Written by Nick Heer.

Modern MacOS Upgrades Require Significant Free Disk Space

Charles Edge (via Michael Tsai):

The net result is that when doing the last few upgrades, they have required 12+GB for the installer itself (which can be run from a USB drive) and up to 44GB for the installer to do the work it needs to do, so a total of up to about 56GB. Therefore, scoping policies to run an updater without causing undo issues to end users it’s entirely appropriate to make sure they have the amounts of free space indicated per version. Given that drives can be a terabyte in size, this doesn’t seem wildly inappropriate; however, many organizations still buy devices with 256GB drives (thus going from an eighth in the 64GB drive era to a quarter of common drive space required to be free for certain upgrades on smaller drives today). […]

If users upgrade to each version in sequence rather than skipping over versions, they will have a lower disk space requirement.

Even so, these space requirements make my eyes pop. In just a few years and with broadly incremental updates for users between versions, the MacOS installer is about twice as large and needs about twice as much space to do its job. MacOS is not alone: the iPhone X shipped with iOS 11 — released in 2017, the same year as the oldest MacOS version in Edge’s comparison — which had a 3 GB installer, about half the size of the current iOS 16 installer for the same iPhone model.

This is not limited to operating systems, either. Users are disrespected by increasing and surprising bloat in applications. For work, I need to run the Microsoft OneDrive client on one of my Macs, and I was surprised to see that it recently crossed the 1 GB threshold. This is a file syncing utility. For comparison — and you can check this for yourself — it was 70 MB just four years ago. I am not being dramatic when I call this sort of behaviour disrespectful; it shows contempt for users to eat up a full gigabyte of disk space for a background application that uploads and downloads files. OneDrive is obviously not the only offender — all Electron apps are needlessly bloated by bundling a discrete copy of Chromium, of course, and Adobe’s creative applications are several gigabytes each. But OneDrive is a grotesque example of needless bytes.

It is sort of miraculous that modern video codecs like H.265 have made it possible to fit videos of increasing quality and resolution into shrinking amounts of space. But when it comes to software, the pattern is exactly backwards.