My tutorial for migrating Lion to a two-drive setup after the HD recall..!

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Lion (10.7)' started by 50548, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. 50548 Guest

    Apr 17, 2005
    Currently in Switzerland
    The advice posted below is based on some tips received from other users, as well as my own research and googling around. In fact, I've found out that it's fairly difficult to come with clear answers on how to migrate to a two-drive setup with Lion, when you want: a) your OS and Apps in the SSD; and b) the USER FOLDER in the bigger, NON-STARTUP HD.

    And why is this? Because OS X's Migration Assistant is still based on a premise of single-drive setups - therefore, ONLY startup/boot volumes can be used for the migration, unfortunately. However, I am sure Apple will have to revise this stance soon, with the increasing adoption of SSDs alongside higher capacity HDs.

    So let me list the necessary steps for accomplishing this interesting experience:

    1) My 1TB HD was recalled by Apple, so I took it to an AASP and requested also the after-market installation of an internal SSD (the 120GB OCZ Vertex 3, considered as one of the fastest and most reliable in the market, with SATA 3 support and SandForce controller - no native TRIM, though, which is not even necessary anyway for SandForce-controlled drives).

    2) After confirming that I had bought Lion already, the AASP clean-installed it again on the SSD;

    3) Since I have a boatload of content in my home folder, I had to install this folder in the HD;

    4) Once Migration Assistant popped up (AFTER THE CLEAN INSTALL), I didn't do anything and just created a NEW user with EXACTLY the same short name and password as the previous one I had;

    5) With this new user created, I then used MA to transfer all my apps and System-level settings and files into the SSD;

    6) I then copied my NEWLY-CREATED user folder back into the HD (such a folder was, of course, almost empty at this stage) - this step is necessary so that you can remap the home folder as per step 7 below; following that, I went to System Preferences/Users & Groups, and right-clicked on my user to open up "Advanced Options";

    7) In there, I simply selected the NEW place where the newly-duplicated user folder was in the HD; do NOT change any other setting unless you know what you're doing;

    8) I then carefully selected, FROM my TM backup, the most recent backup folder and navigated to my old user folder in order to copy everything from there to the aforementioned "new" home folder in the HD (docs, media content, library settings, mail, application support folders, preferences etc.);

    9) Once you reboot, you will see that your HOME FOLDER is the one in the HD, and not anymore the previously-created SSD-based home folder (which can be deleted after you confirm all is OK with the migration);

    10) So far I've only had a few permissions issues (which can be easily solved by going to "Get Info" and checking whether your user can read/write to such folders/files).

    I did the same with my wife's home folder, so BOTH user folders are in the HD, with plenty of space available.


    120GB SSD - OS X, all main apps and System-related files (including swap files as necessary) - after doing a lot of reading on this, I'd recommend leaving some 20% of free space on the SSD for performance reasons;

    1TB HD - ALL user folders, media (iTunes, iPhoto etc.), user preferences, user-based application support files and documents.

    Feel free to take the steps above at your own risk (there shouldn't be any major issues if you carefully follow the sequence, I think)...I just hope this helps every other person trying to do the same thing..! :D

    p.s.: And yes, despite a few minor bugs, Lion ROCKS and continues to be absolutely solid for me.

    p.s.2: for those wondering, the after-market SSD installation by an AASP does NOT break the warranty (Apple warranty of 1 year for the iMac, AASP service warranty of 3 months for the SSD itself, without prejudice to any factory warranty from OCZ). The prerequisite here is to find an AASP willing and able to install it - according to Apple's warranty documents, AASP-installed parts do NOT void the iMac's basic warranty).

    In conclusion, no kernel panics, no media crashes and no slowdowns so far with this setup. Version 10.7.1 will only clean up what is already a VERY stable release..!
  2. stratokaster macrumors member

    Jul 30, 2011
    Dublin, IE
    Thank you for this helpful guide, I will follow it when my MCE OptiBay finally arrives :)
  3. 50548 thread starter Guest

    Apr 17, 2005
    Currently in Switzerland
    Please let me know how it goes, OK? ;)

    And as said above, you may face a number of permissions and software activation issues (MS Office 2011, or Steam games located under Application Support)...not a big deal, really, but it may take a little while to iron out all kinks..!
  4. robgendreau macrumors 68040

    Jul 13, 2008
    So after you had the semi-empty new user folder copied over to the HD, did you restore you Time Machine user data to it, or manually copy it over?

    I'm still kind of foggy on that since it seems my restores haven't given me any choice on where to restore to.

    Thanks for guide; we needed one.

  5. 50548 thread starter Guest

    Apr 17, 2005
    Currently in Switzerland
    Nope; as said above, MA does not allow recovery to non-startup drives. And as far as I know TM would not work either, since we're talking here about two fundamentally different backup sets and folder locations (before - 1 drive; after - 2 drives).

    What I did was to carefully browse the TM backup files, find the content I wanted to copy to the new Home Folder (i.e., Documents, Library folders, media etc.) and continue from there. It seems like the best advice in this specific point is to copy the CONTENTS but NOT the OLD FOLDERS themselves, due to the heightened risk of permissions issues.

    Also, after completing migration I realized that my old TM backups were not useful anymore (I just erased the disk and started over once I confirmed that all necessary data had been fully migrated).

    In any case, I DID face some permissions problems on the first day, especially with apps such as Steam and its games (which continued to bug me with password requests until I checked permissions and applied read/write privileges to my user again).

    A number of activation issues may also arise in cases of HD/SSD surgery, such as with MS Office and also iTunes authorizations.

    But after a few minor tweaks (and given that more than 95% of my stuff migrated without any problems), everything seems to be in order now.
  6. MauiBoy macrumors member

    Sep 7, 2005
    I intend to try this tonight, as I now have my OWC Data Doubler and SSD. Thanks for the write-up!

    I wonder if some of the issues you've seen might be resolved by making a symbolic link on your SSD to the new location of the user's home folder? For example:

    ln -sf /Volumes/<new HD volume name>/<path to new user folder>/<user shortname> /Users/<user shortname>
    That way, anything hard-coded to look for a user in the "normal" place would still find it. The likelihood of your data volume being unmounted is pretty slim in this setup, so the soft link should be stable.
  7. driftmr2 macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2009
    Broomfield, CO
    Thanks for the write up. I found it informative as I am doing research on the migration before I move to the new ssd + hdd set up.

    So after the migration is complete, how would one back up the new ssd + hdd set up? Multiple partitions on an external drive?

Share This Page