is it worth the effort to avoid setup/migration assistant

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by msim20, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. msim20 macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Since 2006, I have regularly upgraded the OS and used Migration Assistant with every upgrade. Currently using the previous OS version. Now on to a 2016 MB Pro.

    Any thoughts as to why I should not use Migration assistant? So much time wasted if I do not use it.

    Possible option:
    1. Use Migration assistant.
    2. Then on new computer cleanup auto start apps. CPU cycles restored, SSD still used by "useless" apps.​

    I do have a lot of Apps installed that I do not use now, including I think I installed something once which allowed me to install Unix apps etc. But my 2009 MB Pro works fine - I am sure it runs some extra CPU cycles.

    Thanks for weighing in!
  2. Capt T macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2010
    I opted for starting from scratch. I just backup the old computer to an external drive so if there is anything I need I can transfer...but for most of my devices I do this. Feel I don't want to bring forward anything I am no longer using, or may cause issue with the new OS. YMMV
  3. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    I understand what you are saying.

    Can you articulate a few specific examples of what you are worried about? Will help assess whether fresh start is worth making the effort.
  4. 1madman1 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2013
    Richmond, BC, Canada
    I've migrated the accounts on my two main Macs since the PowerPC era - email, contacts, and calendars being the main reasons. It hasn't been an issue so far. I opted out of migrating apps a few years back though, otherwise I'd still still have things like Nanosaur and Office '04 along for the ride.
  5. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Got it.

    Now if migrating undesirable / unnecessary apps is something I want to avoid, then I am thinking that I should delete those apps from my current Macbook Pro. Perhaps some preferences files from old apps will transfer over to the new computer.

    Is it a fair assessment to say - that if I transfer applications then I risk losing space on SSD but not CPU cycles?

    Or is there a risk of transferring some malware or some other risk?
  6. jackoatmon macrumors 6502a


    Sep 15, 2011
  7. jerryk macrumors 68040

    Nov 3, 2011
    SF Bay Area
    I also start from scratch. I find that 50% of what I have on the old laptop I do not need (or want) on the new laptop.
  8. iizmoo macrumors 6502

    Jan 8, 2014
    I start from scratch on every new machine. Migration software of all type have a tendency to bring over config files that causes problems. Its worth it to have a hassle free computer by spending the time to do thingd from scratch rather than have issues you can"5 quickly or easily solve at in opportuned times. Its a matter of risk mitigation tradeoff. And if you are an organized person, it doesn't take that long. Anything you need in the future can be quickly reinstalled anyway, and if you don't remember something, mean it was never critical in the first place.
  9. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    I agree with all the remarks as to how it can cause a mess. I am just trying to visualize a few specific instances of what the problem can be? If I do a fresh start, it will take me at least 10-20 hours of total time to get started.

    Keyboard key mapping in System Preferences, fastscripts and shortcuts in that, figuring out how to move over preferences in many a software that I use from the older computer - just a lot of work.

    I just want to assess what specific risk I face before I undertake the 10-20+ hour effort...

    Thanks for engaging!
  10. snaky69 macrumors 603

    Mar 14, 2008
    Just use migration assistant. You're not breaking anything.

    Apps that aren't running, well, aren't running, so they're not using any CPU even if they're on your computer. Leave them be, they simply take up space and that's it.

    You're overthinking this.
  11. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    That's what I thought. Doesn't seem like there is any example of reasons not to use migration assistant.
  12. therealseebs macrumors 65816


    Apr 14, 2010
    I have had occasional problems if doing it for long enough. Eventually you end up with vmware tools from 8 years ago on a newish machine and they might cause problems, because they're providing kernel drivers that are... old, to put it mildly. Or old TechTool stuff.

    Basically, if you have something that installs drivers or services or preference panes or something, and you don't know how to remove it cleanly, you may be unhappy to have it following you around. Usually won't be a problem, though.
  13. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Thanks for the concrete examples.

    Services and pref lanes I get.

    Drivers? What's the equivalent on the Mac and how to find and how to address when transferring?

  14. chabig macrumors 601

    Sep 6, 2002
    I've been migrating since the migration assistant was invented. Clean installs eliminate the small remnants that are leftover from deleted apps, but it doesn't make any difference in how the machine runs to have a few unused files sitting around.
  15. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    sounds great. that's been my experience so far.
    And so I wondered why bother with hours of effort to avoid migration assistant.
  16. Antairez, Dec 15, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016

    Antairez macrumors regular


    Mar 17, 2015
    I set up mine as new simply because I enjoy the process of setting up a new computer. It makes it feel "new", where as after migration assistant I lost that "wow I got a new laptop" feeling.

    But that's just me, productivity wise speaking you should you migration assistant if you need your laptop back in working condition immediately.
  17. dangerfish macrumors 6502

    Aug 28, 2007
    I have always used migration assistant and have never really felt that I had issues because of it. I get my new MBP on Monday and although I have a TM I can migrate from, I may do a fresh install this time. I have a small number of apps that aren't in the app store that I'd have to manually install but virtually everything else will show back up on my computer just by logging into my iCloud account (photos, contacts, Document folder, music, keychain). I'd need to install Dropbox and setup my my email accounts manually but everything else will just show up.
  18. kipwheeler macrumors regular


    Nov 1, 2016
    What about iTunes songs? Do people find migration assistance helps with that? The one time I moved over files to a new computer without using migration assistant, I successfully transported all the iTunes songs manually (mostly they were originally files that I copied from my old CD collection--about 800 CDs total), but the hitch was that when I dragged the files over, playlists and date added got bonked in the process. I wonder if migration assistant is better for that, and for decomissioning the old computer on iTunes.
  19. andruw000 macrumors newbie

    Nov 7, 2010
    When I know I'm close to making a purchase, I'll go through my current machine and remove anything that might cause problems/no longer need. Like cleaning out my closet or having a yard sale. Then, after picking up my new Mac, I'll restore from a recent TM backup. No problems so far (only three different computers, however).
  20. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Thank you all! I totally understand the views of many people to setup their machines from scratch, if time permitted I might have tried it too...

    For me, I will do some cleaning in the Applications folder before Migration Assistant and will move forward.
  21. therealseebs macrumors 65816


    Apr 14, 2010
    "Equivalent"? There is no "equivalent", there are drivers. Drivers are a thing in MacOS.

    How to find/address? I think the practical answer is "have someone with more technical expertise involved", because this is definitely non-trivial. In general you'd be looking for things that should be getting added in /Library. You'd be looking for .kext files for kernel extensions (which most drivers would be), but also look at /Library/LaunchDaemons and LaunchAgents, which may have stuff that's starting up automatically.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 16, 2016 ---
    I have had really strange things happen a few times with iTunes libraries, but honestly I don't know whether they happened with or without migration assistant.

    Sometime between 2007ish and 2016, iTunes took nearly every album I had from my original MP3 collection (predating my use of iTunes) and made the first song on the album the last song on the album.
  22. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Thanks for pointing out! I am not a geek, but will do a gentle check to see if there are obviously obsolete files in these folders that you named.
  23. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    I just used Migration Assistant to migrate from a 2010 MacBook Pro to a new 2015 MacBook Pro (buying "last year's model" was my own choice).

    The migration went smoothly.
    Now and then there will be old apps that don't work. Either upgrade them, or trash them. If you trash them, you may want to search for any related files (pref files, etc.), and trash those as well.

    One suggestion I'll make regarding the use of Migration Assistant:
    I migrated from an external drive with a cloned backup of my 2010 MBPro created with CarbonCopyCloner. Went quickly, no glitches. I've read numerous reports from others who have migrated via a Time Machine backup, and the migration went on for hours before it finished up...
  24. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    The closest equivalent is kext files. Some applications install these kext files (kernel extensions) to the folder /System/Library/Extensions/ to allow the app to run.

    Apps can also install launch and startup items in these folders.

    ~/Library/LaunchAgents (~ is your users folder)
    I always use Migration Assistant and never have a problem.

    Where people sometimes do have a problem is if you are migrating from say an El Capitan system to a newer Sierra system, and there is an app or utility on the old system that cannot run in or locks up Sierra. But even if that happens, you can do a safe mode boot to stop all those items from running then go through the folders and login items I mentioned to remove the culprit.
  25. msim20 thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 4, 2008
    Excellent idea! Thanks.
    --- Post Merged, Dec 16, 2016 ---
    1. Just checked and I have only one kext file and that is good and I recognize it.
    2. Will go through startup items now - thanks for making it easy for me :)
    2. I am transitioning from El Cap to Sierra this time - no choice really.

    Now if something does not work right, then can I not simply delete them while logged in as admin and then restart and be all good? What circumstance needs going into safe mode?

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