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How to Use Migration Assistant While Switching To A New Mac – Guide
If you just purchased a new Mac and want to upgrade to an older computer, you want all of your files and data to be accessible on the new machine. But if you are installing a new Mac, should you migrate your old files or do a clean install? If you’re buying a new Mac, it may be a good idea to do a clean install: you start all over again, with a new operating system, and manually copy the files you need from your old Mac. Here it is how to migrate your files to the new Mac.
First, you will need a Mac to copy the data as well. Ideally, you are defining this up like a new Mac. You don’t have to. If you’ve already set up up your Mac, you can still use the Migration Assistant. Unless there is an existing user with the same name, the Migration Wizard will only define up a different user with all the new data. If there is already a user with that name, you will need to change the name of the user you are migrating.
Otherwise, you need one of the following:back to menu ↑
For a Windows PC
The PC must be running Windows XP Service Pack 3 or higher. You will install the Windows Migration Assistant program. The PC also needs to be able to join a network. If there is malware, this can be a problem.
For a Mac running macOS
The Mac must be running macOS 10.6.8 Snow Leopard or later. Leopard and Tiger users, you will have to copy the data manually. The good thing about migrating to the Mac is that the Mac doesn’t have to be functional. If your Mac’s hard drive died, you can migrate from a Time Machine backup. This is the best way to do this. It even works with a Time Capsule on a network.
You can also copy data directly from your Mac’s hard drive by connecting it up via Firewire or Thunderbolt in the target disk mode. Although not preferred, you can copy the data over a network, assuming your old Mac boots up.back to menu ↑
What does he copy?back to menu ↑
From a Mac
If you’re copying data from another Mac, it transfers everything by default. This migration includes your data, preferences and even programs. It copies all the details down to the background image and the location of the icons. It’s a little disconcerting to see everything on that new Mac. You want to know if you have a new computer! This includes copying garbage and debris that may be filling up up your old hard drive.back to menu ↑
From a PC
With a PC, Migration Assistant cannot copy everything. This makes sense, as not all files on the PC work on the Mac. For example, it cannot copy programs because they do not work on a Mac. The Migration Wizard will copy most of the user’s items home folder like images, documents and music by default. Mail, contacts and calendars will be copied to Mac equivalents if you are using Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail or Live Mail.
If you’re using Thunderbird or another Windows email program, you’re out of luck. The wizard will copy bookmarks from Internet Explorer or Firefox from the PC (and, of course, from Safari). Chrome users will not be able to copy bookmarks with the Migration Assistant.
This is not a big deal, as they will sync to the Chrome version for Mac when you run it on Mac.
To copy your iTunes correctly, update your PC to the latest version available for your operating system. This helps to ensure that the libraries and settings are in place.
When possible, the Migration Wizard will copy the default home page and other system settings, such as background images. In my experience, this rarely works. Windows has many third-party applications that hinder the Migration Assistant. It doesn’t hurt to try to let those copies through. If it fails, just set these options manually.back to menu ↑
Problems with the migration wizard
When the Migration Assistant is successful, it is a work of art. The transition is perfect. It works best with a later model of Mac running the latest available operating system and copying with the target disk mode.
The most common failure I see is that the wizard crashes due to network or hard drive problems. It will try to recover, but then it simply crashes. It doesn’t say, “Sorry, I can’t go on.” It just keeps you waiting there forever. Then he leaves his migration in half.
If this happens, you must delete the migrated user and start over. Ugh. In a network, the average migration takes about 8 to 24 hours. Migrating from Mac to Mac in destination disk mode takes 4 to 8 hours on average.
Newer MacBooks have SSD drives that may be smaller than the Mac you are copying from. You will not have enough space to copy all of your data. You will have to decide the important items to be copied. Music and photos usually take up more space on a Mac. If you click the disclosure triangle in the Migration Wizard next to the user’s name, you can deselect the things you don’t want to copy.
You can temporarily leave these photos and music on your old Mac. Let the migration wizard run between Macs. It will copy the main settings and applications to the new Mac. Then, you can prune your photos and music to a manageable size and copy the data manually.
If you don’t have enough space for these files, you may need to keep your external hard drive.
If you are migrating to Mac-Mac, most programs should work on the latest Mac. The exception is the older PowerPC programs that work on Snow Leopard, but do not work on the current operating system. You will need to research this and find a newer compatible version or replace the program. Some programs, such as Microsoft Office or older products from Adobe, will ask for your serial number in order to run on a new computer.back to menu ↑
Migration Assistant Best Practices
Regardless of the method used, you will need to be patient. The Migration Assistant guesses how long the migration will take. The first hunch he makes is usually the best. As you copy the data, the time estimate fluctuates. It may seem stuck, but it is usually just working hard. I move my cursor to the final the progress bar while copying. If more than four hours have passed without movement, I assume that he hung up and canceled the process.back to menu ↑
Migrating from a Mac
Whenever possible, use a Time Machine backup. This allows you to continue using your old Mac while the Migration Assistant works its magic. Note: it cannot copy any data created after the migration has started. This is strictly for browsing while the new Mac is copying data.
When you migrate from a Time Machine backup, the Mac offers to “inherit” the old backup. You do not need to define up a new Time Machine and potentially overwrite the data. I also like the fact that it is an integrated test of your backup system. If it doesn’t work, you know that your backup has a problem. If you do not have a Time Machine backup, set up a backup up if you can.
Hard drives are inexpensive compared to the cost of losing your data. I suggest a manual backup of Time Machine, shutting down your old Mac and then plugging in up the time machine for the new Mac. Then just browse the web on that old Mac or leave it alone.
If your Mac doesn’t start up and you don’t have a Time Machine backup, the next best solution is target disk mode. I’ve seen Macs that have all sorts of startup problems and are still able to use the Migration Assistant in this mode. If your Mac doesn’t turn on, you can use an external SATA to USB adapter to copy the data. Migration Assistant will read the hard drive anyway.
If you do a network migration, you will need to open the Migration Wizard on both computers. The Mac will ask you to verify that the codes on the two computers match. It’s like pairing Bluetooth devices.back to menu ↑
Migrating from a PC
PC Migration Assistant lasts forever on a network. I’ve seen it takes days and it’s not yet complete! Many home networks are slow and probably use wi-fi. If you use the Migration Wizard, make sure that both computers are on wired networks. This gives you the best chance of success.
To copy most files, it is best to use an external hard drive or flash drive. You can place your documents in the same folder on your Mac. For photos and music, you can tell iTunes and Photos to import from that external hard drive. The only time I really see value in PC Migration Assistant is in converting email data from PC to Mac.
If you use web-based email, you don’t really need the Migration Assistant. It is best to copy these files manually.
If you do a network migration, just like the Mac, you will open the program on both systems. On the PC, you will need to download the program. When the program is open on both computers, select the files you want to copy to your new Mac.back to menu ↑
The value of a manual migration
When you do a migration, you are copying potential problems to the new computer. All of your old preferences and unused programs are copied. Sometimes it’s good to start from scratch. You have only the programs and settings you want. I do a manual migration of all the other new computers that I buy. I copy music, photos and documents to an external hard drive. Then, I placed them in the correct folders on the new Mac. Then, I reinstall the programs with the latest version. If I don’t have the program’s installer, then I copy the program to the new Mac.
Then, I placed them in the correct folders on the new Mac. Then, I reinstall the programs with the latest version. If I don’t have the program’s installer, then I copy the program to the new Mac.back to menu ↑
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