Should I use Time Machine on my new MBP?

felixen

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Apr 13, 2009
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62
Hi guys. I currently have an Air from 2012 and today I'm getting a brand new Pro. I have a ton of files on my Air, so the easiest thing would just be to use Time Machine to get the new Pro up and running without losing anything.

However, since my Air is so old, I don't know if there'll be a bunch of messy files on it that I don't know about. For example, I have this super annoying bug where it'll rearrange the order of my widgets in Notification Center every time I reboot, and I don't want to copy over whatever system files this bug comes from.

What do you guys think? Is it best with a fresh install and then I just manually pick whatever I want to copy over?

Also, if I use Time Machine, will all my programs then be copied right over, or will I need to actually install them all again, enter serial keys etc. etc?
 

afir93

macrumors 6502a
Jan 5, 2018
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888
Hard to predict if issues like the the Notification Center one will be carried over, but generally speaking, it's possible for a lot of "dead weight" to be carried over if restoring a Mac through a Time Machine backup since most stuff is just copied over 1:1. Considering the age of the machine, I'd probably lean towards a clean install and setting it up from scratch (it's what I usually did with my own Macs) – it'll take you how much, an hour or three maybe? But therefore you get rid of all old fragments and outdated stuff on your drive that you might not ever need and only have all the apps and extensions installed that you actually need.

Unless you excluded your Applications folder from the backup, all your applications should be carried over with restoring from a Time Machine backup, yes. You should generally start right where you left off at the time of the backup, even open applications, window positions and the like are usually carried over from a Time Machine backup. It feels a bit like magic. Maybe some apps will trigger you to provide the license again, depends on the app, but generally, it's a pretty smooth process. But it comes at the "price" of also having all the old weight and to a large extend also the same software issues that you had on the old machine.
 
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Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
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I would make a Time Machine backup, then do a clean install, then manually reinstall apps.
Once that’s done, restore your specific data folders from Time Machine.

To make it easier, document all the apps you use and the places where you store your data before going to step 1.
 
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CodeJoy

macrumors 6502
Apr 3, 2018
400
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I had a similar situation and I preferred a fresh install and copied my files using rsync. There are a few locations that can end up being very bloated after 6 years. ~/Library being one of them. I copied data, reinstalled the apps, and manually set up the config and preferences. It was a fair bit of work, but it's only once every six years and it cleans things out nicely.

Edit: Copying with Time Machine is just as good as rsync, just maybe a bit slower.
 
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haralds

macrumors 65816
Jan 3, 2014
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Silicon Valley, CA
A clean install is not necessary on a brand new MacBook and can get you in trouble with the T2 chip.
I would recommend the Migration Utility. It manages the transition cleanly.

I do it in two steps to avoid trouble. I first transfer accounts and settings. Then I use a second pass for Applications.

TimeMachine is slow and transfers everything including bungles settings files.
 
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Howard2k

macrumors 68030
Mar 10, 2016
2,558
1,821
A clean install is not necessary on a brand new MacBook and can get you in trouble with the T2 chip.
I would recommend the Migration Utility. It manages the transition cleanly.

I do it in two steps to avoid trouble. I first transfer accounts and settings. Then I use a second pass for Applications.

TimeMachine is slow and transfers everything including bungles settings files.
You can restore files selectively with Time Machine.
 
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