New Mac, meet Old Mac
October 15, 2012 7:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm upgrading my late-2008 Macbook Pro. How can I take advantage of Migration Assistant AND get a "fresh start" with my new machine?

I've had my machine for four years, and while it's running fairly decently, it isn't meeting my needs anymore. I have a new, non-retina MBP on its way.

This is my first time upgrading from a Mac to a Mac, and I'm not really sure how best to take advantage of Migration Assistant. I have an iPhoto library and iTunes library that I'd like to preserve, and a few third-party apps that I use fairly regularly. I have many other third-party apps that don't get very much, if any love (MacHeist wins/buys), but the packrat in me wants to keep them.

Basically, I want to copy my current data over to my new machine, but I don't want to transfer junk to my machine either (and I'm not sure what "junk" on my machine is--I just figure it has some of it?). Maybe Migration Assistant isn't the right way to go? I have an external HD as well.
posted by litnerd to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Unless you have a dearth of hard drive space, use migration assistant. I've used it many times and have not run into any problems with it. You can always do a little house cleaning and delete unwanted applications and documents after the fact. In doing it that way will you end up with a few pllst files and associated files for applications you deleted? Probably, but you can then run through this list to further clean things up.

There's no "quick" way to get rid of all the unwanted debris, you'll need to devote at least a little bit of time to the final dusting in the corners.
posted by HuronBob at 7:59 AM on October 15, 2012

A dearth of hard drive space? I've used 138GB on my current machine, and my new machine will have 750GB. I'm not concerned about saving myself time. I'm not even sure I'd know what to look for in terms of cleaning up, apart from giving up unused apps and other visible data.
posted by litnerd at 8:03 AM on October 15, 2012

A quick fix habit I've come to has been to view and sort the Applications, Documents, and Downloads folders by size (biggest files first) and to toss whatever biggies I have no use for. If you have lots of photos and music, that's a more detailed level of pruning.
posted by cocoagirl at 8:06 AM on October 15, 2012

Back in 10.4 and 10.5 I would have told you to avoid the Migration Assistant, or at the very least not allow it to transfer things like settings. But Mountain Lion doesn't seem to have the option to not transfer setting, and I had pretty good luck using Migration Assistant going from Leopard to Snow Leopard.

Just be sure you fix any problems you have before you use Migration Assistant. The issues I've seen with it in the past usually revolved around people upgrading because they thought it would fix some problems but then the Migration Assistant would just move the corrupt preferences and they'd experience the same issues, but worse. That said, over hundreds of migrations over 3 years, I saw only about a 15-20% failure rate.
posted by MonsieurBon at 8:06 AM on October 15, 2012

I wanted to punch Migration Assistant in the face this week. I had to replace my hard drive (late-2009 iMac running Lion) and tried to run MA from my backup drive (which was a Time Machine backup) to my new hard drive. It took five hours (it's 500 GB, that's fine), and at the end, didn't manage to transfer my "user" - so all the data transferred, but I have no way to access it, and I'm currently trying to find a way to delete it - since it's taking up half my hard drive and all. Google informs me that this problem is not uncommon. So...there's that.

On the other hand, all my applications transferred perfectly, which is great because I was dreading re-installing all that stuff. I dragged my iPhoto and iTunes libraries over from the backup drive on their own, and they are working just fine. The rest of it I'll do piecemeal. If I had to do it again (and I'm sure I will), I'd just use MA for the applications and do the rest of it on my own.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 9:29 AM on October 15, 2012

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