Reinstalling* the OS preserves the contents of user homes in /Users but is /Users/Shared also preserved untouched?

Is my data stored in /Users/Shared safe? (I do have backups.)

* via Recovery or standalone installer on top of an existing installation without erasing the disk or partition. Does it make a difference whether it's via Recovery or standalone installer?

  • 2
    What steps do you take when you reinstall?
    – bmike
    Dec 20, 2020 at 21:09
  • @bmike, see my edited answer. thanks.
    – lhf
    Dec 21, 2020 at 10:21

2 Answers 2


If you are updating the OS to a newer version, either a point upgrade or 'major version' (e.g. from Catalina to Big Sur), then yes, files in /Users/Shared are left untouched.

I have lots of files in /Users/Shared and have never had them wiped by an OS upgrade.

I haven't use Recovery on a working system, but suspect the results would be the same. An OS installer does not wipe the disk by itself.


As far as I know, when you install OS from TimeMachine or Startup Disk, OSinstaller ask you what info you want to install, this include

  • Apps
  • Users
  • Settings and
  • Other Data

And calculates size of each section, giving you the option of checkmark each one individually. The Users/Shared data are included in Other Data, so if you check this, you will preserve Shared data, if not, you don't.

Hope is clear, english is not my native language

  • 1
    I think you're describing what the Migration Assistant can transfer from another Mac or a Time Machine backup. This is different from what's (automatically) preserved during a reinstallation. Dec 21, 2020 at 10:51
  • Yes, I’m describing Migration Assistant, I’ve done myself a couple of times recently. When reinstalling, I think is just OS what is installed and later give you the option to migrate, although I haven’t done myself this way, and I cannot confirm.
    – isolMAC
    Dec 24, 2020 at 10:01

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