Transitioning from one Mac to another, differences in migration methods?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by iMikeT, Jul 14, 2011.

  1. iMikeT macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Location:
    California
    #1
    I'm looking to migrate all of my data from my old Mac to my new one. I have been using Time Machine on my old Mac and can easily migrate using that method. I wanted to ask what exactly will be included when I migrate via Time Machine? Will it be just my data or will system settings follow as well?

    I know that I can also go with the Migration Assistant route but I'm not necessarily looking to completely clone everything, including the garbage that accumulated over the years, from my old Mac.

    Essentially, what I'm asking is, what are the key differences between migrating over Time Machine versus Migration Assistant?

    I guess if worse came to worse, I could just go the File>Export route with the data I care about.
     
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #2
    So far as I've ever experimented, a direct connection with Migration Assistant does exactly the same thing as Time Machine with Migration Assistant. Which is to say you get to pick what you want: User files, and/or system settings, and/or Applications and associated support files (from the System-level /Library), and/or any other stuff left on the hard drive not in a standard location.

    Generally speaking just migrating everything works fine, but if you want to be paranoid and/or as tidy as possible, only migrate your user data and system settings--leave applications out and then reinstall the ones you actually want manually. That keeps the support files from applications you don't use anymore from getting migrated unintentionally.

    If you were planning on restoring from a Time Machine backup rather than using Migration Assistant to migrate from it, that's a bad idea even if you could get it to work--you'd be bringing absolutely everything over wholesale, junk and all. Same goes for a clone operation.
     
  3. iMikeT thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Location:
    California
    #3

    Thanks for the insight. Time Machine does seem convenient but not the most ideal. Perhaps I'll skip that option. I could care less about the my old Mac's system settings or the applications on it as opposed to just the raw data on it. On top of my data, the other big thing that I'm concerned about is my iPhone backup. I just hope I can find a way to transfer that over to the new Mac.
     
  4. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #4
    In that case, what you want to do is very easy:

    1. Do a Time Machine backup of your old Mac, then shut it down.

    2. Start up the new Mac, and when you get to the Migration Assistant phase, select "Time Machine backup" and hook up your Time Machine drive.
    2a. Alternately, if you prefer, select "From Another Mac", then do as instructed to hook up the old Mac and start it in Target Disk Mode.

    3. In the next step, when Migration Assistant asks you what you want to transfer, check the box next to your user folder, and nothing else.

    4. Wait for it to finish.

    You should now have your user, and all your user data, migrated to the new Mac; when you log in it will look almost the same as before. You will need to reinstall any applications you need, but you won't have brought over any of the extra junk that might have built up.

    If you already set up the new Mac with an empty user account, then add a step 1a: Open Migration Assistant in the Utilities folder of the new Mac.
     
  5. iMikeT thread starter macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2006
    Location:
    California
    #5
    Update

    I tried both migration methods yesterday and other than the source of the data, they're practically indistinguishable. Both options gave me the same options of migration through Migration Assistant and the end result was same. The only difference was speed. Migrating through Time Machine was actually a lot faster compared going the Mac-to-Mac via FireWire route. I think this is because the external hard drive is a desktop drive running at 7200rpm as the Mac is a notebook with a notebook hard drive going at 5400rpm, both are through a FireWire 400 connection while the Mac I'm migrating to has a FireWire 800 connection and a desktop 7200rpm hard drive.

    I'm liking the fact that my essential data is being transferred. For example, contacts, calendars, Safari Bookmarks, email, my documents folder, etc. However, this is a double-edge sword and at the same time, the thing I'm not liking is the fact that it also seems like everything is also being transferred as well. I'm talking about the junk from the old Mac as I've made sure to only check the essential items in Migration Assistant. I mean, I'm sure that the garbage isn't necessarily being migrated as well but some old system settings, the size and location of applications/windows, and other little things are being transferred as well. These are just a bunch of quirks I'm probably being super OCD about but I wasn't expecting them to come along. It's pretty much picking up where I left off on the old Mac. I'm just hoping that the garbage really isn't coming along...

    Now that I'm finished with the test, it's not time for the real transition. I'll be reinstalling OS X on the new Mac first then going from there. I'll be going the Time Machine route but after I have set up a new/admin account on the new Mac first.

    **On a side note. I forgot to add that I never realized that Time Machine quite literally backs up everything on a Mac. It seems like it practically clones the hard drive of all essential data. The only thing it doesn't do it allow a user to boot from it.
     

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