Migration Assistant: what to do when old Mac's drive is larger than new Mac's?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by eelpout, Nov 14, 2016.

  1. eelpout macrumors regular

    eelpout

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #1
    So, my 2009 i5 iMac "white screens" during boot and am looking at (finally) updating to something new. it's still in the shop and being analyzed, but they are pretty sure it's a hard drive failure. Though I'm kinda hoping it's a logic or graphics board issue to avoid this. the drive was only 3 years old, which seems kinda new to fail. Anyways...

    To cut to the chase, I'm going to likely run into an issue where my current Time Machine backups are too big for the new Mac. the old iMac had a 2TB drive, about 70% full and I'll get no larger than a 1 TB SSD. Doing the math, it ain't all gonna fit. I did something stupid and left all my photos in my Pictures folder under my user account. I meant to move the 950+ GB of images to an external drive to avoid this very thing, but never got around to it (yes, I'm a photographer).

    My understanding is that I'm going to run into trouble with Setup/Migration Assistant with a new Mac and that if I select my user with all that data from a Time Machine backup, it's not going to want to install everything, saying there isn't enough space. So here's the question, can I install everything *but* my Pictures directory during the initial Setup and restore it later? And if so, how? I didn't think Migration Assistant will let me restore to any drive but the startup. And I read somewhere that using Time Machine itself rather than MA may have issues restoring to a different Mac (some change starting in Yosemite??).

    Thanks in advance.

    (and yes, I'm considering just getting a 2TB fusion drive in the new Mac to avoid all this, but I'd rather have the larger SSD :))
     
  2. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #2
    Buy an NAS device and move your pictures and iTunes Library to the NAS. Plus having a multi-disk NAS your important memories are backed up inside a NAS!
     
  3. velocityg4 macrumors 68040

    velocityg4

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2004
    Location:
    Georgia
    #3
    It won't be pretty working with all that data.
    - Buy a large external drive
    - Install OS X onto said external drive and boot off of it
    - Run Migration Assistant to all files and settings
    - Setup a temp folder in the root of the external drive
    - Move (not copy) all files you will want to access externally into the temp folder
    - Go into Time Machine settings and exclude said temp folder from backup
    - Perform a Time Machine backup the updated user folder will now be much smaller in the backup
    - Boot off SSD and perform the restore
    - Now you can delete all other files, Mac OS X and folders off the external just keeping the temp folder contents and organize as you see fit.
    - Point Photos to the new Library location and set it as the system default.
    - I would highly recommend using PowerPhotos to import your various picture folders into Photos and eliminate duplicates.
    - You can also set Time Machine to backup the new external drive.

    Edit: Be patient this will take a long time.
     
  4. Flynnstone macrumors 65816

    Flynnstone

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2003
    Location:
    Cold beer land
    #4
    Too funny!
    "My mouse is broken", "buy a NAS". "What key do I use to copy?", "Buy a NAS!"

    Sorry for my little rant.
    How about buy a, say decent 4T hard drive. Partition into about 2 2T partitions. Install what ever OS was running on your old machine. Boot to it. Migrate from your backup. Move pictures & what ever to other partition. Once you get the OS partition down to about 500G, copy that to the SSD. Boot from SSD. There you go.
    Or, because you should have at least 2 backup drives (TM & another), but 2 4T drives.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    Yes you can. During the process you will get to a screen like this. Just scroll down an uncheck the Pictures section and the migration will not move in the contents of that folder.

    Then later on you can attach the Time Machine backup and navigate to the pictures folder and restore that folder to an external drive.

    Migration Assistant File List.png
     
  6. eelpout thread starter macrumors regular

    eelpout

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #6
    Wow. A lot of great responses here. Thanks! :)

    Based on what I'm reading, it looks like I'm correct in that I'll have to restore the entire 1+ TB of TM backups first and then move the images to some place else later. That there is no way of using Migration Assistant or TM to restore the Pictures directory itself to an external drive *after* the initial restore. A pox on me for not moving them to an external drive years ago. :(

    All my images are already sorted in to groupings for Adobe Lightroom and their catalogs, but thanks for tips on photo management. I'll have to do some re-jiggering there for file paths and such once the images are all external but that should be easy. I often store the catalog file in the same folder for shoots now anyway just for cleanliness.

    Unfortunately, I'm going to have to restore in effect twice since i heard back about my old iMac and it was indeed the drive that failed (mini rant: I'm sorry... but a 3 year life span is pretty poor, even for a spinner). I'll be using that old Mac until I decide what get. Still annoyed with Apple (my old employer BTW) and their refusal to update the Mac Mini and Mac Pro. I really would prefer not to get another iMac, but that's for another thread. :p

    FYI. I've been using Crashplan/code42 as a cloud backup for years. I went with them years ago because they were one of the first to offer overnight hard disk delivery of all one's data for a restore. Which thankfully I've never had to use. I'm not even sure they offer this anymore with today's broadband speeds.
    --- Post Merged, Nov 15, 2016 ---
    Have you actually done something like this, as this would be ideal. I found this video from 4 years ago, where the guy shows using Time Machine in just this manner. But some of the commenters claim his method is out-of-date and may not work on current OS X versions.

    (of course I replied at the same time you posted ;))
     
  7. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #7
    Yes I have done this and it works just fine. I just did a test restore of a couple folders from Time Machine under Sierra and it still works the same.
     
  8. eelpout thread starter macrumors regular

    eelpout

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Silicon Valley
    #8
    So here's a question. If I restore that folder to an external drive as Weaselboy suggested, will Time Machine then know that is the new location for that directory? I would think not.

    I'm now trying to work out a scheme where when I move to a Mini (which just arrived BTW, a 2012 i7/16 GB/500 GB SSD 850 Evo), inherit & retarget the old iMac Time Machine "corpus" and not have to back up all the external image files again. I don't think that can be done, because even using symlinks for the new image directory on the external drive, TM will treat it as something new. Right?

    I may just have to suck it up, do a fresh backup and lose the TM history. Not that it matters much to me.
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #9
    If you use MA to move everything in, when you attach the existing TM backup disk you will get popup asking if you want to start a new backup or "inherit" the old one. Presumably you would want to inherit from what you have said here.

    Then restore big stuff to your external drive. By default, external drives are excluded from TM backups so you will want to go to TM options and remove the external from the exclude list so the files are backed up. And yes, they are going to get backed up again to the TM disk.
     

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