2011 iMac SSD upgrade and TM restore Q's.

Apple Fan 21

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 29, 2012
Soon I will be having a 500GB SSD drive put in to my 2011 iMac. I will be keeping the original 1 TB HD in there for media storage and using the SSD for my apps. I will NOT be making a fusion drive at this time (maybe later) since I have not used Terminal before. I know to make a recent Time Machine back up to my external drive right before I take my iMac in. My question is what are the steps to restore my system onto the SSD from TM when I get it back? I am running most current version of Yosemite. Will I have to also nuke and pave the original HD also to use purely as media storage?


macrumors member
Mar 3, 2011
Dagobah System
Right ok, so once you get the Mac back lets assume you have the SSD with a fresh install of OSX, the internal drive has all the data still on it and you also have an external drive with your most recent backup before the change.

Boot the Mac up and ensure you you have booted off the correct disc, if you are unsure go to System Preferences and check the startup disc, ( also boot time should tell you without doing this )

If you are still using the old HD choose the other disc and restart machine, once booted to SSD create a user account , ideally NOT the same as the account on your old HD, call it Admin or whatever. ( Your migration will pull in your user account so that is why I recommend using a different name, once finished you can remove this account account )

Once logged in, wipe the internal HD so you now only have the SSD as the only bootable option.

Next connect the external with your backup and go to Migration assistant , run it and point back to your External drive with the data on.

I think you may be able to actually use setup assistant and use the backup to migrate instead of creating an account, if you want some info on both see here:


Hope this helps, I'm sure others will chime in too!


macrumors 6502a
Jan 23, 2015
Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't "restore from Time Machine back-up" literally copy everything onto the new drive..? From what I know, I can just boot into Recovery Mode, and then format the new drive, and then select "restore from Time Machine back-up." This will copy everything including apps, files and OS... Is this correct...?

Bomb Bloke

macrumors regular
Feb 12, 2015
Tasmania (AU)
By default, Time Machine backs up nearly everything on your system - the OS, your apps, your personal data, and so on. There are some baked-in exceptions, but these files are considered "unneeded" (eg, your Outlook database (which Outlook will attempt to rebuild if it finds it missing), the contents of your trash, and so on).

So when replacing HDDs, it should indeed be as simple as using Time Machine to perform a complete restore onto the new drive.

However, if the machine comes back with a fresh new OS already installed on the SSD and up to date, then as Adz76 suggests it would indeed be just as easy to use Migration Assistant to copy the data - though I'd take it straight from the 1TB drive, not the backup.

In practise, I'd likely find myself going with a full Time Machine restore either way.


Staff member
Jan 23, 2005
My question is what are the steps to restore my system onto the SSD from TM when I get it back?
Attach the Time Machine backup then option key boot to it. That will get you to a recovery screen running off the backup disk. The use Disk Util to erase the new drive to Mac OS Extended (Journaled). Then quit Disk Util and click restore and point it to the SSD as the destination.

Once it is done reboot and hold the option key again and select the SSD to boot from. Then go to System Preferences and in the Startup Disk pane select the SSD as the boot drive.