Transferring from an old MBP to a new MBA

MacBoook160

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Feb 9, 2011
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I should know the answer to these questions, so in advance, many thanks for your patience.

I've been backing up my MBP 2011 to an external hard drive regularly, not just files, but applications and the like. I've never used Time Machine or the Cloud (other than for my iPhone). As I await the new machine, my plans were to take those files from the external drive and just load them on for apps, docs, bookmarks, all manually.

However, reading these comments, I'm wondering if there's a better way to make the transfer, especially as the last time I did this was over 4 years ago from a Vaio to the MBP.

Thanks for any tips.
 

satcomer

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Feb 19, 2008
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Your best bet will be using Migration Assistant to transfer only saved email (not the email server settings though, set those up manually), music, pictures, saved data and ONLY application serials. DON'T transfer Network setting because the TCP/IP stack changes between OS X versions.

Then with serials fir important applications use the Apple App Store an/or MacUpdate.com to get the best updates for your programs.
 
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MacBoook160

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Feb 9, 2011
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Your best bet will be using Migration Assistant to transfer only saved email (not the email server settings though, set those up manually), music, pictures, saved data and ONLY application serials. DON'T transfer Network setting because the TCP/IP stack changes between OS X versions.

Then with serials fir important applications use the Apple App Store an/or MacUpdate.com to get the best updates for your programs.
Thanks, satcomer. I just found the Migration Assistant tutorial on apple.com but I'll use it as you suggest. So, that'll be documents, downloads I want to keep, photos, iTunes and Chrome/Safari/Firefox bookmarks. I'm keeping the MBP as a back-up computer, so anything I miss I can certainly "get back."
 

Dark Void

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Jun 1, 2011
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There are many ways to do it, but I will second the suggestion of Migration Assistant. It is reliable and supported.

When you receive the new notebook, just follow the prompts along during the initial setup and you'll come to a window that either wants you to set the computer up as a new Mac or restore from a Time Machine backup.

You can always apply the backup to the new computer after the initial setup as well if you choose to "set up as new Mac" first via Applications > Utilities > Migration Assistant.
 
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MacBoook160

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Feb 9, 2011
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There are many ways to do it, but I will second the suggestion of Migration Assistant. It is reliable and supported.

When you receive the new notebook, just follow the prompts along during the initial setup and you'll come to a window that either wants you to set the computer up as a new Mac or restore from a Time Machine backup.

You can always apply the backup to the new computer after the initial setup as well if you choose to "set up as new Mac" first via Applications > Utilities > Migration Assistant.
Dark Void, it's not an issue if I don't have a Time Machine back-up, right? And thanks to you, too! Seriously, I'm embarrassed that I don't know this myself. I know there are guides online, but it's always so helpful to hear from the folks here first about the practicalities. I seem to get a new laptop only about every 4 and 1/2 years or so, so I'm always a bit rusty about these things.
 

Dark Void

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Dark Void, it's not an issue if I don't have a Time Machine back-up, right? And thanks to you, too! Seriously, I'm embarrassed that I don't know this myself. I know there are guides online, but it's always so helpful to hear from the folks here first about the practicalities. I seem to get a new laptop only about every 4 and 1/2 years or so, so I'm always a bit rusty about these things.
There are other methods of using Migration Assistant but a physical Time Machine backup is one of the most basic ways. If you are able to (I thought so as you stated that you had a backup) use this method then I would.
 

MacBoook160

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Feb 9, 2011
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There are other methods of using Migration Assistant but a physical Time Machine backup is one of the most basic ways. If you are able to (I thought so as you stated that you had a backup) use this method then I would.
I have a manual back-up to an external hard drive but not a "Time Machine" one.

Yes, I also still wash my dishes by hand and bake potatoes in an oven and not a microwave. Sigh.
 

Dark Void

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Jun 1, 2011
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I have a manual back-up to an external hard drive but not a "Time Machine" one.

Yes, I also still wash my dishes by hand and bake potatoes in an oven and not a microwave. Sigh.
That's cool man. I use CDs and DVDs and write words down on paper still. I own pens. I have a well-balanced checkbook and a Core 2 Duo laptop. I do own a dishwasher though.

I'd definitely do a traditional Time Machine backup. It is necessary if you are going to be using it for Migration Assistant and will make this process very smooth for you.
 
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MacBoook160

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That's cool man. I use CDs and DVDs and write words down on paper still. I own pens. I have a well-balanced checkbook and a Core 2 Duo laptop. I do own a dishwasher though.

I'd definitely do a traditional Time Machine backup. It is necessary if you are going to be using it for Migration Assistant and will make this process very smooth for you.
Thanks for the recommendation. I'll figure out how to do that through System Preferences/apple.com. At least I can use the new machine without all that, because you know that when I receive it I'm going to want to play right away.

I send out handwritten letters, too! And I recently found my old turntable, and have figured out where my old albums and 45s are. Looking forward to setting that up, scratches and all.
 

Dark Void

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Thanks for the recommendation. I'll figure out how to do that through System Preferences/apple.com. At least I can use the new machine without all that, because you know that when I receive it I'm going to want to play right away.
I can help - there's nothing to it really. If your drive needs to be formatted or erased you will do so through Disk Utility in the Utilities folder under Applications. You'll have to let me know what you want to do with your current backup, etc before I can help properly.
 
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MacBoook160

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I can help - there's nothing to it really. If your drive needs to be formatted or erased you will do so through Disk Utility in the Utilities folder under Applications. You'll have to let me know what you want to do with your current backup, etc before I can help properly.
So, this is what I did - I went in to System Preferences and turned on Time Machine (the laptop was confused because it's the first time I've done that in 4.5 years - 'say what, sister? why now? what's going on?') Then I attached my external drive; the dialogue box asked me if that's where I wanted to put the TM, I said yes, and it started. From the looks of it, given that I have nearly 300 gig on my hard drive, I think I'm going to have to leave it overnight, though I'm not sure if I can close the clamshell in the meantime. Does that seem right?
 

Dark Void

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So, this is what I did - I went in to System Preferences and turned on Time Machine (the laptop was confused because it's the first time I've done that in 4.5 years - 'say what, sister? why now? what's going on?') Then I attached my external drive; the dialogue box asked me if that's where I wanted to put the TM, I said yes, and it started. From the looks of it, given that I have nearly 300 gig on my hard drive, I think I'm going to have to leave it overnight, though I'm not sure if I can close the clamshell in the meantime. Does that seem right?
Did you do anything to the drive before allowing Time Machine to do its thing? I'd make sure the drive is clean or at least has a separate partition available for the backup. Merging it with your manually storage programs and files may cause some unwanted confusion or issues.
 
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AlliFlowers

Contributor
Jan 1, 2011
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I just did the same thing about 2 weeks ago, going from a MBP to a MBA. I decided not to go the Migration Assistant route since it takes forever.

I got a Thunderbolt cable, started the MBP in target mode, and just copied the directories I wanted straight from one to the other.

Of course, I use only Exchange or IMAP mail servers, so there was no mail to worry about saving. But it took very little time, and left me with no real down time.
 
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MacBoook160

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Feb 9, 2011
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Did you do anything to the drive before allowing Time Machine to do its thing? I'd make sure the drive is clean or at least has a separate partition available for the backup. Merging it with your manually storage programs and files may cause some unwanted confusion or issues.
Errrr. I just went in and it created a new folder called Backups.backuppdb That'll work. I don't want to mess with it while it's working, but tomorrow, after it's done, I'm going to create a folder called manual backups and put the other folders in it.

Thanks so much. This is so very kind of you.
 

Dark Void

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Errrr. I just went in and it created a new folder called Backups.backuppdb That'll work. I don't want to mess with it while it's working, but tomorrow, after it's done, I'm going to create a folder called manual backups and put the other folders in it.

Thanks so much. This is so very kind of you.
No problem, it should be fine then if it has its own separate folder - I just tend to be anal and like to do things in a clean or separate manner.

If you need anymore help just quote or tag me so I'm alerted.
 
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kohlson

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Apr 23, 2010
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We have 2 corporate standards for migrating old Macs to new - MA and TM. TM is easy. Do as the others have suggested and make a complete backup using TM. Then, boot the new system into the restore partition on the new machine (Cmd r at boot). Choose restore from TM, then wait a bit. All done.
 
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MacBoook160

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Original poster
Feb 9, 2011
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We have 2 corporate standards for migrating old Macs to new - MA and TM. TM is easy. Do as the others have suggested and make a complete backup using TM. Then, boot the new system into the restore partition on the new machine (Cmd r at boot). Choose restore from TM, then wait a bit. All done.
Thank you! Surprisingly, even on my old MBP, the backup of 300 gb took only about 4 hours. I think I'm going to do the set up of the computer first, then shut down and restart the machine; I'll attach the hard drive, then do command r and see how I'm prompted. In the meantime, I've made two folders on the hard drive; one for "older updates" and one for the Time Machine so as to more clearly separate them.
 

kohlson

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Apr 23, 2010
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Thank you! Surprisingly, even on my old MBP, the backup of 300 gb took only about 4 hours. I think I'm going to do the set up of the computer first, then shut down and restart the machine; I'll attach the hard drive, then do command r and see how I'm prompted. In the meantime, I've made two folders on the hard drive; one for "older updates" and one for the Time Machine so as to more clearly separate them.
Right -- if you don't have the option to boot from the restore partition, then you can make a bootable USB key and boot from that, and then restore from TN
 

vjaaan

macrumors 6502
Oct 13, 2010
298
5
I tried using Migration Assistant to transfer some things from old MBP to new. But it started copying everything! The point of the new computer was to start fresh. How can I use it to pick and choose the directories and files I want?
 

Weaselboy

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Jan 23, 2005
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I tried using Migration Assistant to transfer some things from old MBP to new. But it started copying everything! The point of the new computer was to start fresh. How can I use it to pick and choose the directories and files I want?
There will be a step in the migration where you see this screen. You can click the triangle beside the user name to expand the folders then uncheck the ones you do not want to migrate. Beyond that, there is no other control of what gets migrated.

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