Understanding the difference between Restoring and Migration for new a iMac

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Libertine Lush, Dec 21, 2009.

  1. Libertine Lush macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #1
    Hi everyone,

    I ask this question as a new Apple user with a pretty rocky start. I'm on my second defective iMac (yellow tint, stuck pixel, smell, etc). Because of 2 defective iMacs in a row and another replacement in the near future, I now need to learn about how to transfer settings/data from one Apple to another most efficiently--if at all.

    I previously understood it would be best to simply not use Migration Assistant on a new iMac, even though as a new Apple user I really have little data history to transfer over. So with my next replacement, and hopefully the last, I would start from scratch with new application installs, OS settings, documents, etc. The logic as explained to me is that migrating would transfer over files I would not want on the new iMac.

    However, when I spoke to Applecare over the phone tonight, I was told that while I could Migrate, I should instead Restore all my settings/data from a Time Machine backup from this defective iMac to the new one. As I understand it from how he explained it: with Migration you will simply transfer your old data/settings on top of what exists on the new iMac, but with a Restore the new iMac will wipe out whatever is on it (is there anything to wipe out on a new iMac?) and then transfer your old data/settings.

    Is my understanding of those 2 terms, Migration and Restore, correct?

    And is Restoring the preferable thing to do in that it doesn't (or shouldn't?) bring over any unnecessary files into the new iMac and saves a great deal of time or should I still start completely from scratch?

    Thank you for your help.
     
  2. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #2
    Yes, your understanding of the basic difference between a migration and restore are correct. I believe you also have the option of using Migration Assistant from a Time Machine backup, as well as a directly-connected Mac or cloned drive.

    As for what to do in your situation, none of the options are really "bad", particularly since there's relatively little on it. I've used Migration Assistant even with systems with a LOT of junk (settings, files, Adobe applications, system-level add-ons) on them, and for the last couple OS iterations it has always worked perfectly. It would probably work fine in your case, and I doubt it would bring over much, if any, unnecessary stuff, since the systems would be nearly identical to start with.

    Restoring from a Time Machine backup would also work (with little fear of incompatible weirdness, since the hardware is identical), but it'll also take a lot longer since there's more to restore.

    Were I in your situation, I'd probably reformat the drive and reinstall a completely fresh OS copy from the discs that come with the computer (so I could not install extra language translations and get Rosetta and QuickTime 7 on there), then use Migration Assistant to grab the stuff I'd already installed and set up. I might consider NOT having it transfer applications--just users and settings--were I feeling paranoid, and didn't mind reinstalling apps.

    Not saying it's not possible to have problems with Migrating (you seem to have had unfortunate luck so far, to be sure!), but it usually works quite well. (For reference, my experience with it is based on using it a few dozen times to transfer files for hardware upgrades at work and for freelance tinkering; recently I migrated a 10.4 system on 8-year-old hardware to a 10.6 new Mac without issue, and at home I have a system that has been either upgraded or migrated through every OS version since the public beta, and is still running smoothly under 10.6 on a new i7 iMac.)
     
  3. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 23, 2009
    #3
    Thanks for such a thorough response, Makosuke.

    I'd like to make sure I understand your suggestion about reformating a new computer. The reason for doing so would be specifically so you can omit the install of languages you don't want (which I assume is to save space--how much space would it be?) and install Rosetta and Quicktime 7?

    Also, why would you want Quicktime 7 instead of the latest one?

    I looked up Rosetta in Wikipedia. Since I'm a new Apple user and therefore don't use older Apple programs, I assume I have no need for Rosetta?
     
  4. Mumford macrumors regular

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    Oct 8, 2006
    Location:
    Altadena, CA
    #4
    Not installing the language packs will save you a few Gigabytes. If you don't want to go through a whole reinstall just for this, you can use monolingual.

    Quicktime 7: quite a few people (me included) are not happy with the look or functionality of the new Quicktime X. Qt 7 can be installed any time from your OS X DVD.

    Rosetta: there's still the occasional app out there that hasn't updated to Intel. The good thing about Rosetta is it'll install if you need it, so you don't need to worry about it now.
     
  5. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    Aug 15, 2001
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    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #5
    Mumford's answers are basically the same as mine. The language translations aren't huge by modern drive standards, but a couple gigabytes is still a couple gigabytes, especially when it trickles down into your backups. In previous OS versions there were also several GB of printer drivers installed on a new system--basically everything, just in case--but I don't think that's the case anymore.

    I would NOT recommend Monolingual, though. It might well work fine, but it has, in the past, broken things, both for me and others (that bug was since fixed, but still...). Since you're starting with a clean system anyway, it seems foolhardy to try and save what amounts to a few minutes of unattended installation.

    QuickTime 7 is, as said, because it has some features not present in the newest version, particularly since I'd already paid $20 for the "pro" version unlock key. Since 7 and 10 can be installed alongside each other, I personally want both. (This isn't to say that I don't use QT10--I do--just that I personally have use for 7. I'm not necessarily recommending it to you, and it can be installed after the fact if you decide you want it.)

    Rosetta is, as you said, less likely to be necessary for a person without any legacy programs around. There is certainly the possibility of finding a shareware/freeware download that turns out to be PPC only, but the OS should prompt you to install Rosetta when you try to run it. Again, this was a case of explaining why *I* would want to do a clean install, not necessarily a recommendation of what *you* should do. I should have been clearer about that.
     
  6. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 23, 2009
    #6
    Thank you both for your replies.

    If I remove all language files but English would I be able to still display foreign languages in folder and file names and in programs like Firefox or iTunes? Basically the entire OS.
     
  7. Mumford macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2006
    Location:
    Altadena, CA
    #7
    Yes. The language packs you'd be removing would be for localization stuff... so the mac would know how to print "About this Mac" in Chinese, for example. The characters themselves are part of the font packs.
     
  8. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

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    Nov 23, 2009
    #8
    Ah ok! Maybe I'll take out the language packs then. What is "localization stuff" by the way?

    Happy Holidays.
     
  9. Makosuke macrumors 603

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    Aug 15, 2001
    Location:
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    #9
    Just a more accurate term for language packs.

    The way Apple handles multiple languages is more or less like this: Every application contains at least one set of interface files, which are marked with the language they are in. If an application supports multiple languages, it will have multiple versions of these files, one for each language. (Note, importantly, that by "supports" I mean has menus/help files in multiple languages, not that it supports typing in multiple languages--very near everything in OSX does now.)

    In the past you could actually view (and even modify) what languages an app supported from its Get Info window, but that's apparently gone in at least 10.6, if not earlier). Regardless, when you open an application, the system checks what your preferred default language is (set in System Prefs --> Language and Text --> Language tab, whatever is at the top of the list). If the app includes interface files for that language, it opens with menus in that language. Since almost everything has at least English, this is what you'll get almost all the time.

    In the event the app doesn't have files for your top language choice, the system checks to see if it has your second choice, and so on down until it finds something to use.

    Now, Apple has language support for a LOT of languages in the entire system, which over dozens of applications and various system-level interface stuff adds up to quite a bit of stuff (I remember it being about 100MB of files per language). Since most people will never run with the interface/menus in more than one, maybe two, languages, you have the option of just not installing those files when you install the system. Cumulatively, it saves a couple of GB of data that you will almost certainly never need.

    Even in my case, being in a bilingual household, I only install files for English and Japanese. The chances of someone who doesn't read either of those languages wanting to use my computer are slim enough that I don't bother with anything else.

    And I repeat, this is JUST menu/interface stuff in applications and the system. Even with only English installed you will still have no trouble reading web pages or typing in any of the dozens of languages OSX supports. Go to a Korean site, you'll see Korean text, French you'll get properly accented French, etc. Not sure if you'll get the spell-checking dictionaries or not, which is the ONLY thing I can imagine one wanting even if one never intended to run apps in a different language.
     
  10. Libertine Lush thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2009
    #10
    You've made it very clear and easily understandable. Thanks a lot, Makosuke.
     

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