Using Time Machine on new HD

Discussion in 'macOS' started by abarrabarr, May 29, 2010.

  1. abarrabarr macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2010
    I feel rather silly asking, but don't want to screw anything up, so here goes. My iMac 20" (2006) was running slower and slower as well as having various errors pop up, so, fearing the HD might be going, I went out and grabbed an external HD and started using Time Machine. Backed up nicely, took the computer in and I did need a new HD. The new HD is in, the new OS (10.5.8) has been fully updated and it's just a completely fresh install - I've done nothing yet.

    Now I want to get all my data off Time Machine but I'm not sure the best way to do it!

    1) I plugged in the drive and first, it asks if I want to use the drive as my Time Machine backup. If I do that, will it write over my old backups?

    2) Since I was having troubles with my old version (I can't be 100% sure everything was caused just by the old HD slowing down, I assume), do I really want to restore the whole latest version?

    3) If so, or even if not, how do I do that anyway??? Do I say "yes I'd like to my make drive be the Time Machine drive", let it do the backup, then restore somehow? Use Migration Assistant (I've read about that but not tried it)? Something else?

    Please forgive the newbie questions - never had to use Time Machine before (but darned happy I have it!) and don't want to screw up my nice, fast-running machine or lose all my data/email/documents/etc! Thanks.
  2. Steve-M macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2009
    No, at this point time machine should make a new backup of your existing hard drive, leaving the existing backups in place. One exception would be if your external is full, then time machine will overwrite data, starting with the oldest backup. But there is really no reason to make a backup at this point, please read on.

    Considering you where having problems when you made the backup, I probably would not do a full restore from time machine. You can use Migration Assistant to restore your data, and I believe it has the option to select what portion of your data to restore. Again, since you where having problems, I would not do a full restore using Migration Assistant either. See if it will allow you to just restore your documents, mail, pictures, etc. You could also simply drag and drop the files from your time machine backup to your new home directory. This is the way I would most likely restore the data if it was my machine.

    Please note: if you drag and drop to restore your files, copy /Users/yourusername/Library/Mail & /Users/yourusername/Library/Preferences/ from your time machine backup, to the same locations in your new home directory, doing so will restore Mail to its prior state.

    Also, Apple has a great write up on how to use time machine located at

    Good luck to ya :)
  3. abarrabarr thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2010
    Thanks for the advice! I used the Migration Assistant and got my various applications back, but I haven't been successful getting mail or my favorites for Safari/Firefox. I also can't get the desktop or documents back that I had before. The Migration Assistant said it was copying them over, but they don't seem to be there.

    I'm the only user for my computer and don't seem to find a Users/ area. I tried copying over the one version of the mail.plist I could find :


    but that didn't seem to do anything. I also read over the guide from Apple - it's a fine overview, but doesn't seem to get very specific. Other thoughts?
  4. abarrabarr thread starter macrumors newbie

    May 29, 2010
    Ahhh... I figured it out! Apparently I had one account previously on my old HD, now with the new HD I have 2 logins - the one the new HD got set up with AND my old version. As soon as I logged out and back in, everything is back and running. Ahhh, being a newbie is... umm... fun...
  5. Steve-M macrumors regular

    Jun 12, 2009

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