Is it recommended to migrate time machine backup to brand new mac?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by cdwheel, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2009
    I have an old Macbook (about 3 year old), with the OS X Lion, and I'm planning to get a new Macbook Pro. I know that with time and usage, our computers collects junk files that make it run slower. So, when I get the new Macbook Pro and migrate my time machine back up from the old one, will it also migrate the junk files?

    What is it best to do in this case?

    1. Transfer files manually with an external hard drive to the new Mac?, or
    2. Migrate all my backup to the new Mac with time machine?

    Which one??

  2. macrumors 68000


    May 11, 2009
    If you set up from the time machine backup it will copy everything and make the new Mac exactly like your old one. If you have things that you do not want to transfer, then just copy the files over manually and don't restore via time machine.

    If you want, you could do the time machine restore, and just go through and delete the files you do not want after the transfer is complete.

    What you do is your choice
  3. TyroneShoes2, Jun 20, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2012

    macrumors regular

    Aug 17, 2011
    I think that is mostly a myth. A file that is not currently being accessed at the time that you are trying to access another file will have absolutely no bearing on speed, so it really does not matter how many files you have on your HDD, with one exception (see #1):

    Generally speaking there are 2 things that can make a computer slower over time, as far as the HDD goes (many more not related to the HDD):

    1) file fragmentation. This can only cause a minor slowdown, and it will not really become a factor unless you fill the drive more than 85%. It does not really become problematic until 90 or 95%, but then, exponentially so. It is much worse on Windows than on Mac HFS+.

    2) slow consistent failure of the HDD in its ability to read and write. This will happen gradually over time to all HDDs that do not fail for some other, catastrophic reason, such as a failed HBA card, bearings wearing out, a head crash from a blow to the HDD while spinning, etc. The media becomes less reliable over time, and the HDD sometimes tries to read sectors many times in a row to get the data off, which is where the slowdown comes from.
    But then migration to a new Mac is the perfect time for spring cleaning and creating a good backup strategy. Here is what I do (and what I did when I migrated from a 2003 PB to a 2011 MBA, which had a smaller 256 SSD HDD).

    First I went through the old Mac's HDD and deleted all files that I know for sure that I really don't care about. Then I made a TM backup to an external HDD. Then I went through the old Mac's HDD and moved files that I wanted to save but probably would not need on the MBA, and just saved those in a folder to that HDD. That way I can browse for those files without the hassle of going into TM. Then I put that x drive on the shelf.

    Then I connected a second external HDD, and moved another copy of those same files there. Then I went through the old Mac's HDD and deleted all of the files that I was "pretty sure" that I would not need (and remember, those are now backed up) including a lot of "Rosetta" files that would not run under Lion anyway, and made a TM backup of that to the second x HDD, which became my working, incremental backup. Then I restored those files from TM to the new MBA.

    This meant I had only relevant files on the MBA, with two backups of those files (actually 2 backups on each x drive), and a single copy of the "junk" files on the first x drive.

    Now, since I also had virtually all of those files resident on 2 other older Macs, including those "junk" files, I was covered pretty good. But if you don't have that, it is probably a good idea to then make a duplicate of the first x drive using Carbon Copy Cloner and move that off site, which then gives you full backup to the full backup.

    And to be really safe, buy yet another external and alternate TM backups to those two x drives, which means you have 2 backup copies of everything from 2 backups ago, and one backup copy of everything from 1 backup ago.

    But that may not really make that much sense for questionable files; 2 or even 1 backup might make more sense. After all, if you have a HDD cluttered by files you really don't need, then you are a candidate for the TV show "Hoarders", and there is a point where spending lots of time making lots of backups of irrelevant files is much the same thing. Just like in real life, you have to eventually jettison stuff you no longer need, and this is the perfect time to stress that sort of self-discipline.

    On the other hand, HDDs are cheap, you can make backups easily, and it is a chore/timesuck to pick through all the files on your HDD and toss what does not matter and keep what does; it is much easier to keep everything. Spotlight will still find what you are looking for, although having it search through irrelevant files will indeed slow things down.

    The strategy you pick is all dependent on how much storage space you have, how good of a backup plan you want to implement, and how much time you want to invest (personally, I find tossing outdated files liberating). You could also just clone the HDD and reimage the new Mac with that image.

    Bottom line, I recommend TM for the migration, although it used to be so much easier with firewire. I had two identical PBs, and when I bought the second one I just hooked it up to the other one using firewire target mode, clicked OK and walked away. Later I came back and I had two nearly virtual clones. The data on both was exactly the same, and the new one had no fragmentation.
  4. thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 25, 2009
    Thanks!! I think I'll use then Time Machine, it's my easiest option. My only concern was that I would make my new Macbook Pro run less efficient.

  5. macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Olympia, WA
    One thing here. Are you getting a Retina Macbook pro? If so, it's using a special build of Lion to accommodate its Retina graphics. Don't migrate the entire system over in this case; just your needed files.
  6. macrumors member


    Apr 18, 2011

    I have a similar situation. I just purchased a new MBA-13 (2013) for my wife and she is using an old MBA-11 (2010). Both are using Mountain Lion. My question is. What about the drivers?

    If I restore from Time Machine will this install the drivers of the MBA-11 in the new MBA-13 or it will restore user info only?


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