Migration Assistant destroyed my machine

Discussion in 'macOS' started by binba, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. binba macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2010
    A little melodramatic? Slightly but not that much. I was so frustrated to find no other accounts of major problems with Migration Assistant that I had to write this. Consider it a cautionary tale...

    A first-gen Macbook Pro (1,1) I was repairing had HDD problems. I replaced the hard drive and was able to recover all files from the bad HDD. With the new HDD the laptop worked great, I did a clean install of 10.6 and ran all the updates. So far so good.

    My mistake was running the Migration Assistant - I chose to copy over one user's account and Applications. The result was plenty of kext errors, and Safari and Mail would crash upon launch (in any user account) (Looks like some system libraries that thsoe programs depend on are bad). Software Update says everything is fine and dandy, and multiple permission repairs didn't help.

    I suppose that because the data was recovered, some files may be corrupt and that stepped over the good installation. Still I was surprised that Migration Assitant offers to copy over Library settings and Applications without checking for those issues and while freely overwriting existing system files. After all this feature is often used to restore data after a major failure.

    Moral of the story? Migration Assistant has the potential to do this. It's just a hassle, I'm wiping and reinstalling the system again, and this time I'll opt for manual, partial data migration the safe way instead of trusting the Apple smiley face to do everything fantasticautomatically for me.

    Interestingly, I posted the above in Apple's user forums and it was removed by a moderator. Apparently the content was too extreme and outrageous.
  2. benwiggy macrumors 68020

    Jun 15, 2012
    No need to wipe and reinstall -- just reinstall the OS in place. That should fix any corrupted system components.

    Generally, MA works well. If the data was corrupted, then it's possible that something may be copied over that is causing the problem. But I don't think you can blame MA because your data was corrupt.

    Was there no backup that could be used instead of recovered data? Once you've fixed this, make sure you use TM or other backup strategy.

    OF course, what you need to do is look at the crash logs, which may pinpoint the files that are causing the problem. Make sure that nothing dubious is in the following /Library folders:
    InputManagers, LaunchDaemons, LaunchAgents, StartupItems.
    Makes sure nothing suspicious is in System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items.
    Make sure you haven't copied over any old hardware drivers, third-party software that runs in the background doing stuff, etc, etc.
  3. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Had you already created that account on the machine? For example if you have account "jsmith", then while in that account run Migration Assistant and import the "jsmith" account it creates a duplicate account and all sorts of problems.

    Usually the best thing to do is run Migration Assistant when the fresh install completes before adding any accounts.
  4. binba thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2010
    Combining what I did and what you suggested, the action list would've been:

    1. Install the OS
    2. Migration assistant to move user data back
    3. Reinstall the OS

    I suppose that is the way to get the most recovery done with the least corruption, but by step #3, the amount of effort it took to wipe, reinstall, and do partial migration was about the same.

    This was a colleague's personal computer, and despite my repeated warnings over the past couple of years he didn't backup. There's only so much you can do :) The work computers that are under my authority are backed up.

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