Mac Migration

Yeah…check out that battery life. That’s not 7 minutes and 26 seconds, that’s 7 hours and 26 minutes. Last weekend, I migrated to a new MacBook Pro.

Starting the Migration

Before migrating, I had some questions on the migration options. I knew about the OS X Migration Assistant, but I also create daily backups to a Super Duper drive. From a reliable source, I found that I should be able to simply restore my new MBP from the backup of my old MBP. He’d done it and was up and running in about an hour. But I was still a tad skeptical, since the old MBP I was using was built atop older hardware and I’m assuming had to have different drivers. Specifically, it was a 2.0 GHz Core Duo with 2GB RAM, but without the multi-touch trackpad found on the new machine. For reference, the new MBP is 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo with 4 GB of RAM. Both were of the 15″ variety. I just wasn’t confident about compatibility between these two machines with such different birth dates.

I started by setting up the new MBP, but chose not to run Migration Assistant. Instead, I figured I’d try booting my new MBP from the Super Duper drive. If that worked, I’d use the Super Duper drive to setup my new MBP. If not, I’d run the Migration Assistant. I’d booted my old MBP by simply holding down the option key upon startup, and then selecting the drive I wanted to boot from. Upon trying this with my new MBP, the only bootable disk presented to me was the MBP hard drive. This concerned me, and I couldn’t bring myself to try restoring from the Super Duper drive. If I couldn’t get it to boot from the Super Duper drive, would restoring cause similar issues when booting? I was concerned, so I opted (ie. chickend out) to use the Migration Assistant. Here’s that story.

Migration Assistant – Pass 1

As I mentioned, I chose to setup my new MBP while foregoing the option to run Migration Assistant at the same time as setup. This was a mistake. Once I setup the new user account on my new MBP, use of the Migration Assistant was problematic. It worked, just not the way I wanted it to. If I wanted all of my preferences, applications, settings, and data, I needed to copy the user account of my old MBP. Unfortunately, I couldn’t copy that on top of my new user account I had just setup on the new MBP. At least, I didn’t know how. Instead, the Migration Assistant created a new user that represented my old MBP account. That’s not what I wanted. I wasn’t really sure how to merge two user accounts, and since this was a new machine, I didn’t want a hack right out of the box. So I decided it was time to start from square one.

Installing OS X

I pulled out the OS X install disk, and did an Erase and Install of OS X on my new MBP. This took about an hour and put me back into the factory default settings so that when I turned on the machine, it’d walk me through the setup again. Bingo. Worked like a charm. Now, when booting my new MBP, I selected that the option to transfer files while performing the first time setup. Because it asks to do this before setting up any user accounts on the new machine, I figured it would just clone my old MBP onto my new MBP. And it did.

Migration Assistant – Pass 2

During setup, the Migration Assistant prompted me to connect the two machines via Firewire. Because I was using an external drive connected via Firewire on my old machine (that was the Super Duper drive), I had a Firewire cable handy. I connected the two machines, opted for the default settings in migration assistant, and it started the copy. The copy took roughly two hours, and when I was done, I had a complete clone of my old MBP on my new MBP. It worked like a charm.

Everything appears the same on my new MBP as it did on the old MBP. Right down to the wallpaper on my desktop. All the applications (at least those I’ve tried to this point) were copied over, and all are accessible. I didn’t have to re-enter any license keys. Didn’t have to reinstall any FireFox plug-ins. Nothing! iTunes even worked, and my library was copied over perfectly. All I had to do upon starting iTunes was authorize my new MBP.  While it’s possible restoring from the Super Duper drive would have also worked, the Migration Assistant worked very well for me. But I could have saved a bit of headache had I opted to run the Migration Assistant first time around.

Overall the migration took about 5 hours. But had I run the Migration Assistant the first time through, I estimate it would have taken about two hours. As interesting developments unfold, I’ll update the Miscellaneous Notes section below. Right now, I’m working on my new MBP.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • After running Migration Assistant, I ran a software update. I’m glad I did. I found that there were a few applications that weren’t copied over (or at least updated when copied). iTunes was one of them. I can’t imagine the mess I might have had if I didn’t upgrade to iTunes 8.2 before connecting my iPhone, especially since iTunes 8.2 is required for iPhone 3.0 software which I had just upgraded using my old MBP.
  • I’m still getting acclimated to the multi-touch trackpad. I had grown very accustomed to resting my thumb on the clicking device on my old MBP. Now when I do that on the new multi-touch trackpad, it thinks I’m trying to give it a gesture of some sort.
  • When installing OS X, I was forewarned that I may need to resinstall some of the applications (iLife). This never materialized since the migration did move those applications over from my old MBP.
  • The new MBP uses a Mini Display port for an external monitor. The old MBP used a DVI port. So I had to purchase a new adapter because none was included “in the box.” I bought the wrong one. I thought (silly me) that I could use a Mini Display port to DVI adapter and then use the older DVI adapter to VGA adapter from my old MBP. Not so. The pin configuration for DVI was slightly different.
  • I often times work with my MBP on my lap. It’s amazing how much cooler the new MBP is than the old MBP. The old MBP got very hot. The newer…not at all. I’m guessing that’s because the new MBP has the battery encased within the solid aluminum body of the new MBP. But I’m not sure…I just know it runs much cooler to the touch.
  • Even after installing OS X, running through the Migration Assistant, wiping out my Super Duper drive completely, and creating a new backup of my new MBP, I still cannot boot from that drive. I do not yet know why. I’ll have to troubleshoot.
  • I love the new magnetized mechanism that holds the LED down when closing. It’s aesthetically pleasing. However, I don’t like the finger prints that accumulate at the top of the display.
  • I’ve discovered that my scheduled Super Duper backups haven’t run for the past week. Strange. I tried initiating the scheduled copy manually and receive an error stating it can’t find Macintosh HD. Wow. I deleted that scheduled copy and created a new one and the copy appears to be executing successfully.
  • As I mentioned, I wasn’t able to boot my new MBP from my Super Duper drive. So I was curious. I tried booting my old MBP from the Super Duper backup I created from my new MBP. The old MBP booted up fine, and I was able to see all the application upgrades and file changes I had made on my new MBP. That’s cool!
  • I find it absolutely fascinating that I’m able to boot my old MBP using the Super Duper backup of my new MBP. The old MBP must have different drivers and hardware. I don’t know the details surrounding OS X architecture, but it must have a cool abstraction layer somewhere that deals with this.

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