Extremely long Migration Assistant times over ethernet

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ncarter, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. ncarter macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2011
    I'm trying to use migration assistant from a 3-yr-old MBP to a brand new retina one. It would be moving about 420GB of data. I can't find a fast way to do it, despite the fact that other posters have said there is a fast way (see steve-p's post in http://forums.macrumors.com/archive/index.php/t-1406331.html thread).

    Here's what I've tried:

    1. Accidentally by wifi, time estimate >100hrs. Riiight. Canceled that.
    2. Ethernet (using thunderbolt-to-ethernet adapter that came with the rMBP) directly from one machine to the other. They didn't seem to notice one another, so I suspected I needed to involve a hub/router.
    3. Ethernet (same adapter) through Verizon FiOS wireless router (using ethernet ports on back). >30hrs and increasing as I let it work. Canceled that.
    4. Did a Time Machine backup of the old machine to a CloudBox (connected by ethernet to same router; have backed up there before, just updated it) and tried to restore that backup to the new machine (now only about 300GB; some stuff is excluded, like virtual machine images). Again >1day and increasing as I let it work. Canceled that. These seem wrong to me, because others have posted that ethernet should be able to do that much data in 2hr (see steve-p's post linked to above).

    So my questions are these:
    - Am I screwing the ethernet transfer up or is it really that slow, given what I have? (My router says 100/10 on it...does that mean it's not gigabit ethernet, so I can't expect a 2hr transfer time? My ethernet cables are old...does that matter?)
    - Is it possible to do a direct connection of one computer to the other by ethernet, but I just didn't do it right? If so, would that help with the transfer rate or not?
    - Would buying a thunderbolt-to-firewire adapter get me the transfer rate I need (to do it overnight)?

    If not, my best plan is to just do it over a weekend when I can wait days, I guess. Thanks in advance for any tips!
  2. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2011
    Southern Cal
    Direct connect the two with an ethernet cable has always worked for me. Should be no more than a couple of hours.
  3. Guiyon macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2008
    North Shore, MA
    Assuming you were doing a direct transfer over ethernet (using your 100mbps connection), you're looking at almost 11 hours. Again, this is assuming perfect conditions, maximum transfer rate (over 100Base-T, this is about 11.25MB/s after TCP overhead).

    There is a *huge* gotcha, though; since you are likely working with thousands of small file instead of one (or several) extremely large files your transfer rate will take a hit because each time time a new file needs to be sent, the HDD needs to seek, find, then read. Traditional HDDs are excellent at storing large amounts of data and can reach decent transfer rates but they are miserable at actually finding data on the platter so, if you are performing a lot of seeks, you'll pay a pretty hefty performance penalty; 30 hours is not entirely unreasonable.

    You may also have better luck if you just bypass the switch and directly connect the two machines over ethernet. It won't help with the small file issue but it should increase your maximum throughput on larger files. IIRC, the migration assistant has no problems working with a link-local address.
  4. priitv8 macrumors 68030

    Jan 13, 2011
    420GB sounds like a lot to me. I once had to migrate 1/10-th of OP's data volume from a ThinkPad to MBA (direct link between the two, without switch) and I had to leave it overnight. So in my experience the Migration Assistant is nowhere near to a snappy program. But very convenient, indeed.
    Between 2 Macs I'd use a TM backup any day over the MA to migrate.
  5. duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    1. If your router says 10/100, then yes it's really that slow, and is not 1Gb (which would most likely be listed as something like 10/100/1000 if it was capable of 1Gb speeds.) If your cables say CAT5 on them, and not CAT5e or CAT6, then get new ones.

    2. It should be doable, as modern NIC ports are capable of auto-sensing cables so that you no longer need to use Ethernet crossover cables when directly connecting two machines together. The caveat to that would be the older MBP, as the Ethernet port on that one may not be auto-sensing.

    3. Maybe, but what I would do is not waste money on a TB-to-FW dongle. Instead, go get a small 5port Gigabit switch and use that. Turn on Jumbo frames (change MTU to 9000), and make sure you use CAT5e or CAT6 network cables.
  6. ncarter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2011
    Update on progress

    After trying again, turns out that connecting the two machines directly with an ethernet cable (cat5e) does work. However, I got the most ludicrous transfer time estimates that way. Began at >200hr, and soon climbed to >300hr. Yes, it was estimating over 10 days.

    So I returned to trying to use a Time Machine backup, and tried this:
    - Delete from the old machine any big files not really needed (e.g., downloaded video podcasts).
    - Turn on backing up of /Applications, which wasn't enabled before.
    - Back up to Time Machine again.
    Results of timing that operation showed a transfer rate of about 1GB per 2min.
    - Try to setup new machine from that TM backup. You'd think, for a backup of 350GB or less (which this is--missing some of the biggest stuff like VMs) it would therefore take roughly 12h at that same rate. No. It started at estimating 27h and has been climbing steadily since, now up to 72h45m.

    Yes, the OLD MBP can backup faster than the new one can restore. Is there possibly something wrong with my thunderbolt-to-ethernet adapter?

    (One other wrinkle here: The backup was done by direct ethernet connection to the cloudbox; the new MBP didn't notice the cloudbox when directly connected to it, so I had to go back through the router again. Not sure if that makes any sense, but I thought I gave it long enough to try to detect it...)
  7. ncarter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 31, 2011
    Further strangeness

    That time estimate to restore from TM backup climbed to 98h before I aborted.

    Rebooted the new machine and tried again to direct connect to the cloudbox (which had worked fine with the old machine). I let it spin a *long* time, and retried a few times, sometimes using the other thunderbolt port, just in case. It never detected it.

    Furthermore, sometimes the setup procedure asks which wifi network I want to join, but usually it doesn't. And once I got it to stop asking by looking at "other internet options" and then going back to the wifi screen, which then just leapt on to the next screen without my choosing a wifi network.

    Is this new MBP possibly defective in some subtle way?
  8. DisMyMac macrumors 65816


    Sep 30, 2009
    Could a crossover be faster though, as in bypassing some extra signal processing?
  9. soundsgoodtome macrumors regular


    Jun 8, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Did you ever resolve this?? You didn't say. I've got the same setup (Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter), and my estimated transfer time has now climbed to 1214 hours. This is preposterous.
  10. Mike Boreham macrumors 65816

    Aug 10, 2006
    Migration Assistant and Setup Assistant estimated times are notoriously unreliable. I did one recently which climbed to 150 hrs at one point but actually completed in about 7 which was reasonable for 600Gb data by USB. Time Machine imports are slower in my experience.

    Best not to watch it. Go and do something else, it fluctuates wildly.
  11. thedarkhalf macrumors member

    May 15, 2008
    Im doing my first migration on Yosemite. Doing it via FW800 and it's STILL taking forever. I have done about 100 transfers and this is the slowest I've seen it. I wonder if there is some issue with Yosemite and migration asst
  12. JTToft macrumors 68040

    Apr 27, 2010
    Aarhus, Denmark
    - Always fun to open an old thread. :)
    Provided your machines support it, a direct Thunderbolt cable would by far be the fastest transfer method.

    See this article about Migration Assistant

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