What’s next with APFS? We’ve got answers.

The Apple File System (APFS) is replacing HFS+ as the Mac file system. Learn about the future of imaging and how to prepare for the switch to APFS.

September 7 2017 by

Daniel Weber

After nearly 20 years, the Apple File System (APFS) is replacing HFS+ as the Mac file system. This is exciting stuff, but may be the cause of sleepless nights and added anxiety for IT organizations tasked with preparing their environment for the change that comes with macOS High Sierra this fall.

Take a deep breath. This move to APFS is a good thing, and you’re not alone during this transition. We’re here to help.

First off, why you should be pumped for APFS:

  • Macs running macOS High Sierra will use less total space due to new cloning options; end users can store up to nine quintillion files on a single volume.
  • A new snapshot feature is available to make backups work more efficiently and provide a better way to revert changes back to a given point in time.
  • You’re probably already using APFS, if you’re using iOS 10.3, tvOS 10.2 or watchOS 3.2 in your environment. Now, you’ll be able to enjoy a standard file system across all of your Apple devices.

Cut to the chase: Is imaging dead?
The ecosystem of imaging technologies (a set of technologies used in a variety of deployment scenarios to prepare machines for end users) are impacted by the advent of APFS. Traditional system imaging is being replaced with Device Enrollment Program (DEP) workflows, which automatically configure systems by loading a mobile device management (MDM) profile on to the computers.

Let’s look at the ways IT has used imaging up until this point and how each will be impacted:

  • Monolithic imaging: Erasing an entire hard drive or volume and re-writing with entirely new data, including the operating system, customizations and applications. With macOS High Sierra, Apple does not recommend or support monolithic imaging for upgrades or updates.
  • Modular imaging: Similar to monolithic imaging, the entire hard drive is erased. However, a known good operating system is applied first, then components such as configurations and applications are applied on top of it.
  • Thin imaging: While technically not imaging, this method assumes the shipping version of macOS is good and simply applies settings, configurations and applications on top of the shipping OS via a management tool. This is often called “user-initiated enrollment,” since it requires a user or IT to manually install an enrollment package. This method is great for scenarios where DEP is not available.

A new era with APFS and DEP
It’s clear to see that Apple is pushing IT admins away from imaging and towards the more automated and secure process of DEP workflows. And, with the shift to APFS, DEP offers a solution to standardize certain settings (Wi-Fi), meet security compliance (enforce a passcode) and further enable end users (customized app set). It’s time to imagine (or re-imagine) the possibilities for your environment.

To walk you through the primary workflows to consider and adopt, and discuss best practices you’ll want to follow during your upgrade to macOS High Sierra and APFS, we’ve put together a detailed guide that provides much more information on APFS.

While blog posts are great, the true value is in the paper.

Download now to make your OS upgrade and APFS transition a smooth one.

Read our APFS White Paper

Subscribe to the Jamf Blog

Have market trends, Apple updates and Jamf news delivered directly to your inbox.

To learn more about how we collect, use, disclose, transfer, and store your information, please visit our Privacy Policy.