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Porting data from older iMac to new iMac running Mavericks – best approach?


Probably a simple job, but I just wanted to run it by experts. We have a user’s old iMac (about 4 years old) and we are putting in their replacement.
The new one has already been upgraded to Mavericks, but we won’t have a chance to do that on the old one before we go to install the new.

Is the migration process easy, even with Mavericks on the new one? What is the best way to achieve best and fastest results (E.g. iTunes libraries etc.). e.g. Time machine back of old and restore to new? Over network?

Do user accounts also come across as well?

Never done this before. Thanks in advance
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Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
OK .. to begin with ... the migration process IS easy enough.

If TimeMachine was working on the old one .. you just need to plug that USB drive into the new iMac ... and use the Migration Assistant to import the applications, user accounts (this will include Music, Photos, Docs and settings) from the old iMac.

Alternatively you can create a once-off copy of the old iMac to a Disk Image (dmg file) on an external USB drive using Carbon Copy Cloner (my favourite backup app).  Then plug the USB drive into the new iMac.  Double click the DMG to mount it as a disk drive.  THEN run the Migration Assistant to import the Apps and User accounts.

By keeping time machine USB drive the user can always recover any files or settings from the old iMac.

As the newest iMacs do not have the FireWire ports if you have a male-to-male USB cable you could boot the old iMac into "Target Disk Mode" which in effect treats the old iMac as an external drive.  Then plug it into the new iMac and use the Migration Assistant to copy apps and user accounts directly from the older iMac.

You'll note the common theme of the "Migration Assistant" application which works very well to copy  all the data from an older OSX install to the new one.

The ONE recommendation I would have is NOT to create a new user on the new iMac with the same name as the user on the old iMac before you begin the migration process as it easier.  The Migration Assistant will create as many accounts as you want from the old iMac including the main account.  Usually I will create a generic user called 'test user" on the new imac just to get it going - or will simply go straight to the migration assistant during the install sequence.
afflik1923Author Commented:
This is very useful. Many thanks for this. Also you raised a good point. I think the end user's drive is a firewire one. So how are we going to connect this to the new iMac?

Do you think the external hard drive will have a USB port as well?
(we wont be able to check until we get onsite ready to do the job)
Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
Bring your own USB external drive in case. If you get the make and model of their current external drive you can look it up and see if it has dual USB and FireWire ports. If not it's hard to use it with new Mac. You'd be better to put old Mac in target disk mode and use USB cable.
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I don't believe USB to USB is possible in Target Disk mode. I would recommend using an ethernet cable and connecting the two machines that way. Or you can get a Thunderbolt to Firewire adapter, which will allow the client to continue to use the external drive on the new Mac.
Eoin OSullivanConsultantCommented:
@tgrell - that is a good point .. the Target Disk mode is designed for FireWire and Thunderbolt and NOT USB.

Getting a firewire to thunderbolt adapter may not be possible in the time available to the asker but that is an option.  Otherwise Ethernet cable is another option (set each Mac on same subnet with unique IP)
afflik1923Author Commented:
Used the Migration assistant from the time machine backup.

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