Best way to migrate personal data from El Cap to Mountain Lion?

Discussion in 'OS X El Capitan (10.11)' started by AVR2, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. AVR2 macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    I've just downgraded my 2009 mini from 10.11.3 to a fresh install of 10.8.5 on a new SSD, as El Capitan was slowing it down way too much. Is there any way to automatically migrate my personal data from the old El Cap drive? Obviously Migration Assistant refuses to transfer from a newer OS to an older one.
  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    There is no way to do it automatically. You will need to move everything over manually.
  3. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009

    Before you go through the hassle of a manual migration, have you considered putting El Capitan onto the SSD?
  4. NoBoMac macrumors 68000

    Jul 1, 2014
    When copying over personal data, imo, DON'T copy the Library folder. Might be a configuration file/preference/etc. that might be incompatible with 10.8, and that might cause some extra grief trying to get things setup and or running.

    Have an old TimeMachine copy of ~/Library for 10.8? Can restore the last backup of that to at least get some baseline back for the old configuration.
  5. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    It would help to have more information, such as:

    1. Amount of RAM.
    2. Did the slowdown happen in all software or few of them?

    Clean installing El Capitan might help in some cases but not if the problem is incompatible software.

    There is no way to to automatically to migrate your data but it could be worth doing it manually.

    I did similar downgrade to Mavericks a few months ago and whole process was about 3 hours. It was certainly worth it in my case.
  6. AVR2, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    AVR2 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    The mini is maxed out at 8GB RAM, and the slowdown was across the board, but most maddeningly in the Finder. Things started to slow down with Mavericks, and El Capitan was really the last straw. Almost every click in the Finder would lead to beachballing. I'm exaggerating, but that's what it felt like.

    I've had others tell me to stick with El Cap but on the SSD, but I'm not convinced that it was purely (or even mostly) the HD that was responsible for the progressive speed hit over 10.9, 10.10 and now 10.11. Inevitably, new iterations of the OS will make bigger demands of the hardware.

    I don't use any software that requires El Cap, and I'm hardly a power user of the OS anyway, so ML will be fine.

    However... I'm in a situation where I can give El Cap a try. I've had to order a new SSD because the one I've installed has the speed negotiation issue. Sometimes I get 3 gigabit, sometimes 1.5. I've got 30 days to return the original SSD to Amazon, so I might as well install El Cap on the new one first, and see how that runs. If it doesn't feel significantly faster than El Cap on the HD, then I can clone the ML SSD onto it and I'm good to go.

    Question: if I do a clean install of El Cap onto the new SSD, and then use Migration Assistant to get my personal data off the old El Cap HD, will all the unwanted crud that the system picks up over time come with it? Or will I still get all the benefits of a completely clean OS install?
  7. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005

    I understand everybody's magic answer to all Mac troubles is to throw an SSD at it, and an SSD is definitely faster than a hard drive... but in no way is an SSD required to run El Capitan and using a hard drive with El Capitan would not cause the issue you described.

    If you were successfully running a previous OS X version, then installed El Capitan and things went downhill, what is much more likely is you have some utility or driver that is incompatible with El Capitan and is causing troubles.

    Just as a test when you install El Capitan, just install El Capitan on a cleanly erased drive then create a new account and install absolutely nothing. No drivers, no apps.... nothing. Just run El Capitan stripped like that a couple days. If that fixes it, that tells you it was some utility or driver you had installed that was causing the issue.
  8. AVR2, Mar 11, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016

    AVR2 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    El Capitan was just the culmination of a slowdown that started when I went from ML to Mavericks, and then Yosemite. After each OS upgrade the mini felt less responsive than previously. My assumption is that each new iteration of the OS was making bigger demands on the hardware.

    I've lived with El Cap for about 4 months now, but last week I just thought "Screw this, it's not fun to use the mini any more".
  9. AVR2 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jan 16, 2006
    OK, so maybe you were right :)

    One clean install of El Cap on a replacement SSD later, and the mini is significantly more responsive than it was with the HD. It's not quite as fast as under Mountain Lion, but it's fast enough for me to be happy to stick with El Cap.

    I suspect that it's the clean install that's made more difference than the SSD. On my HD, over the course of 6 years I'd gone through every OS update from Snow Leopard all the way to El Cap without a clean install.
  10. Ebenezum macrumors 6502a

    Mar 31, 2015
    OP: I'm glad it worked.

    I however suspect the SSD helped more than clean install in this case, in my experience El Capitan is very slow on HD even when clean installed.

    Only way to know for sure would be clean install El Capitan on 2.5 inch HD and compare it to clean installed SSD. I doubt you are going to bother because its quite a lot of work... :D
  11. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I'd like to offer a few additional suggestions to speed things up.

    You have 8gb of installed RAM, right?
    I'd suggest TURNING OFF Virtual Memory disk swapping, to see if that changes anything.
    To turn it off, use this terminal command:
    sudo launchctl unload -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/

    Your administrative password will be required.
    Then, reboot, and enter this command:
    rm /var/vm/swapfile*
    (to see if it's actually off).

    Run this way for 4-5 days.
    Do things speed up?
    Are things stable, i.e., no crashes?
    If so, I'd "leave it be".
    You -do- have to be mindful that if you start opening app after app after app, you COULD start pushing against your Mac's "upper limits" for RAM (since it won't be "paging out" and "paging in" any more).

    If you want to re-enable VM disk swaps, enter this in terminal:
    sudo launchctl load -wF /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/
    (and reboot).

    I'd also suggest you KILL Spotlight.
    You can turn it off with this command:
    sudo mdutil -a -i off

    Password is required.
    If you've been getting a lot of beachballs after startup, this may definitely help.

    To re-enable Spotlight, enter:
    sudo mdutil -a -i on
    (I -think- that's the right command, I've ALWAYS disabled Spotlight first thing on ALL my Macs, I NEVER re-enable it and don't miss it at all)

    Other folks are going to jump in and say, "don't do these things".
    I say, give them a try and see if it helps, you can always reverse things if you don't like it.

    Personal experience:
    I've been running my late 2012 Mac Mini (10gb of RAM) with VM disabled for months and months, NO CRASHES AT ALL. Your mileage may vary...
  12. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    I heard clearing caches also does wonders! o_O

    @OP: Transferring data to an older system is not that extensive. You can copy your personal files from your home folder without any problems. Forget about the library folder and see whether you can install your applications from source, just to make sure that you have the correct versions. If you use iCloud, you should be able to use it as regular IMAP account for syncing contacts and calendars, if the general login does not work (I don’t know). You can export a copy of your keychain from your user library (keychains folder) and import it using the Keychain Access application. Other than that, there is not that much more to transfer. Preferences and account settings are generally not transferable.

    The only real problem I faced was Photos. There is no way to go back to iPhoto, other than by exporting all your pictures out of the library and importing them into iPhoto. The library data and your organisation will be lost, however.

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