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dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
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I currently have a 2014 1.4/4GB Mac Mini with a 240 GB SSD drive that I installed myself when I got it a few years ago. No real issues with the Mac Mini, but I've been using it more as a browsing/productivity machine lately instead of just a media server (like when I got it).

I ordered up a 2014 2.6/8GB Mac Mini that is on it's way. I intend to transplant that same SSD drive into the newer Mac Mini. Can I just move the SSD while leaving all the content as-is and since they are both 2014 vintage, be up and running right away? Or do I need to go through the process of backing up to an external USB via Time Machine, wipe the SSD, install into the new Mac Mini, and perform the Time Machine restore?

Thanks!
 

treekram

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2015
1,849
411
Honolulu HI
You might want to call Apple on this one ... let me explain.

My guess is that it's going to work OK. However, there are issues of computer identity that are murky (at least to me). I think that some of the Apple iCloud services use the WiFi or Ethernet MAC (media access control) address to identify the computer. That will change with your new computer. I don't use any of the iCloud services so this is something I haven't researched much. (One thing - you should be sure that you don't have both Mini's running on the same network with the same name - one will get temporarily renamed.)

I just recently did a pure copy of files using rsync from one SSD in a 2014 Mac Mini (High Sierra) to another SSD. The Mini worked fine - except when connecting my iPad, it didn't recognize it. There are well-known steps to fix this problem but they didn't work. The iPad was recognized when booting from the other SSD. Basically, there's some process in the OS which looks at various components and forms an identity for the computer. If you change some component that is used in that identity without reforming the identity, the iOS device recognition fails. I did spend some time trying to figure it out but I didn't think it was worth the additional time so I just did a Time Machine backup of one SSD onto the other and that fixed the iOS device recognition issue.

Because it was a new Time Machine backup, for about 90GB of data, it wasn't that bad in terms of the time it took. Obviously, there's stuff that's done in the Time Machine restore to adjust the identity of the computer properly.

Now, I think that taking a SSD from one computer to another is actually going to be more successful than what I did because it looks like one component they may use for identity (at least for iOS device recognition) is a UID for the OS volume on the SSD which won't change. But there might be other things that should be adjusted with the new computer. So I would say to do the Time Machine restore unless somebody who's familiar with all of the identity issues (like Apple) says it can be done in your particular situation.
 
Last edited:

saulinpa

macrumors 65816
Jun 15, 2008
1,255
712
I've done it between 2014 minis and worked fine. Only issues I remember were it asking for authentication to re-authorize the computer in iTunes and a few other things for which it wanted the password confirmed. Might have had to re-pair the Bluetooth mouse and keyboard but not sure as it has been a while.
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,783
4,655
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I think it will work. I cloned the internal SSD on my 2013 MacBook Air (with Mountain Lion) to an external drive and plugged it into my 2012 quad Mini when I first got it. Booted right up. So I cloned it to the internal SSD on the Mini and everything worked perfectly. Then I just deleted the stuff I didn't want on the Mini. I was rather surprised that this worked actually. I think I had to enter some software serial numbers and passwords, but that was trivial.
 

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,409
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Thanks for the replies. I did find a spare SSD drive on the shelf that is the same size (240gb) as the one in my current Mini. I suppose since it's easier to perform surgery on 1 machine instead of 2, I may just do the Time Machine method and then put the spare SSD into the Mini that arrives in a day or two.

I keep an external USB 3.0 2 TB drive attached to the Mini for all of my media, so 240gb is plenty for programs.

As far as the SSD drives go, they seem pretty close in speed, but spec-wise the one that is on the shelf is a hair slower. I doubt I'd notice any performance decrease, right?

Current SSD:
PNY CS1311 240gb (spec write/read: 520/550)

Shelf SSD:
Crucial BX200 240gb (spec write/read: 490/540)
 

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
7,783
4,655
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I may just do the Time Machine method and then put the spare SSD into the Mini that arrives in a day or two.

I would use Carbon Copy Cloner instead of Time Machine, assuming that you want the new computer to be exactly like the old one. There's a free trial that will give you plenty of time to get this done. It's a lot faster than Time Machine.

However, a Time Machine backup works nicely with a new computer if you just plug it in and let the Migration Assistant do its thing. This is nice if you have different versions of the operating system on the new and old machine, it's smart enough to know which files to keep and which to replace.
 

dmk1974

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Sep 16, 2008
2,409
469
I would use Carbon Copy Cloner instead of Time Machine, assuming that you want the new computer to be exactly like the old one. There's a free trial that will give you plenty of time to get this done. It's a lot faster than Time Machine.

However, a Time Machine backup works nicely with a new computer if you just plug it in and let the Migration Assistant do its thing. This is nice if you have different versions of the operating system on the new and old machine, it's smart enough to know which files to keep and which to replace.

I actually do have CCC and use it for making a redundant backup of my attached USB 2TB drive to another USB drive each week. But I've just never used it for the system SSD. May give it a shot if easier than restoring from a TimeMachine backup.
 

treekram

macrumors 68000
Nov 9, 2015
1,849
411
Honolulu HI
If you're just using Time Machine to copy from one SSD to the other, again, my experience is that it's OK speed-wise. I started the backup, left it there and when I came back, it was done and I thought, "oh, I thought it was going to be longer". I don't know how long it took for 90GB but it wasn't hours - maybe the time I left it to do it's thing was 30 minute, 1 hour - I'm not quite sure. Same for the restore. But CCC is fine as well.

The BX200 is noted for it's lackluster performance. Some in the forums here have gone further and said it's bad, performance-wise. SSD's are pretty cheap now so if find you want better performance than the BX200 or the CS1311, you can get a new Crucial MX500 or Samsung 860 that performs well (within the context of SATA SSD's) for $70-$80 for the 250GB model.

I need to do more testing on my particular problem and see if it affects just APFS, just High Sierra or what; whether moving the drive to a different computer is OK or not. It's not a high priority but prior to my recent experience, I thought, minus the whole iCloud possibly using the network MAC address issue, that it was fairly trivial to move boot disks between different Macs or just move the contents of one boot disk to the other on the same computer by means of an intelligent file copy (such as that provided by rsync). But with my recent experience - I'm not so sure. I suspect the folks behind CCC, etc. have figured this out.
 

kohlson

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2010
2,425
736
May give it a shot if easier than restoring from a TimeMachine backup.
I am a big fan of TM, and often use it to facilitate moving disks/machines around. But CCC may be your best bet here, since you're going from like-to-like. It will copy the disk exactly, including the recovery partition.
 
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