We've seen the benchmarks. We've heard from the techno-geeks. According to Apple, Snow Leopard should result in some impressive speed gains, and hefty hard drive space recapture. But does this speed bump actually result in tangible benefits for the average user? Do you really get back a functional amount of hard drive space? I undertook an intentionally low-tech approach to find out, looking at the space on the drive, and using my iPhone's stopwatch function to time various functions before and after upgrade. I took measurements on two computers: a low-end, bare bones white MacBook used lightly as a secondary computer, and a higher-end MacBook Pro used heavily as a primary computer. The white MacBook was generally speedy and efficient before the upgrade, due to the fact that it had very little installed on it. However, the MacBook Pro was bloated and slow due to lots of programs, with problems magnified by years of hard drive image flashes over various computer upgrades, typical of the non-technical business user.
All start up times are true start up times. In other words, I didn't deem the computer to have "started up" until I had full, no-lag control of a fully-propagated desktop. Same went for the programs whose start up times I tested -- none were deemed started up until the program was responding to input and usable. I picked some common programs that I felt reflected typical use. I turned on auto-login to the primary account on both computers to gain timing accuracy. Not all the results are comparable between computers; certain programs were on one computer but not the other. But, in general, the task was instructive.