Transferring files from PC to new iMac
August 13, 2014 10:53 AM   Subscribe

I bought my very first mac yesterday - an iMac. Very excited!!!! I went through the start up screens where it offered to automagically transfer my files from my 5 year old sony vaio laptop, sitting in the same room. I am normally skeptical but decided to exercise blind faith and let it do it's thing. When it starting the transferring/migrating sequence, it said 40 hours left. Should I have done something different/better and why didn't it warn me?

I think my VAIO has about 2-300GB of stuff on it.

In the past when I got a new computer (ha, 5 yrs ago) I just did the external hard drive process which was cumbersome.

But now, I'm without my computer for another 20 or so hours, which isn't a HUGE deal (but could have been). I guess I am disappointed that there wasn't some sort of be forewarned guesstimate before I started this.......

FWIW, we asked the perky mac guy when we bought the computer if he had an insights into the file transfer process, and he didn't tell us about the automagically transfer and simply recommended having them do it, or using an ex hard drive. No help there.

Is there something I could have done differently that I don't know about?
posted by happytaco to Computers & Internet (9 answers total)
This has happened to me, even when doing mac to mac transfers. Transferring large numbers of files is just slow. You can call Apple and ask for their suggestions on whether to stop this process (I seem to recall I've done it in the past, just said "Oh hellz no" and manually transferred stuff. The things I remembered are

- wired connection will transfer more quickly than wifi
- make sure it's not trying to back up your old hard drive including applications (unless you want them to)
- this is often a good time to think about whether you need all those old episodes of Dexter or whatever it is that takes up all that space

You paid for a Mac, feel free to take advantage of getting to talk to a nice computer person on the phone and ge some advice. It's totally okay to say "That is too damned long" and try to do it a different way.Migration assistant is still available to you even once the computer is set up, there are just some fiddly bits about making sure everything is in the right place.
posted by jessamyn at 10:57 AM on August 13, 2014


It's a slow process anyway, and how you're connected makes a huge difference:

Thunderbolt > USB 3.0 > Firewire 800 > Firewire 400 > USB 2.0 > wired network > USB 1.0 > wireless
posted by Oktober at 11:00 AM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't stop it. You will end up with duplicates and lost HD space. Grin and bear it. Enjoy your mac
posted by prk60091 at 11:08 AM on August 13, 2014

I would guess they're both sitting on WiFi and it's doing it wirelessly? That's probably the main issue, as others have hinted at.

You're basically stuck at this point. In the future, I would either make sure they're both using a wired Ethernet connection, or do it manually using external USB/Firewire media.

Me personally? I would have shut off the Vaio, popped out the hard drive, used one of these that I have in my drawer to mount it on the iMac and then manually copy over what you need... but that requires a little bit of know how. Not a lot of know how, but a little.
posted by kbanas at 11:28 AM on August 13, 2014

I made the same mistake once and found that it was quicker to interrupt the process, do a factory reset of the target mac and start again using wires.
posted by Runes at 11:48 AM on August 13, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yup, I did the same as Runes. It's pretty elementary to connect them with an ethernet cable and transfer that way (as in, make them one little network together, not joined to the outside network).
posted by General Malaise at 12:09 PM on August 13, 2014

Don't stop it. You will end up with duplicates and lost HD space. Grin and bear it.

Bah, nonsense. Stop it.

This is a new mac. Oktober has the answer.

Me? I'd create a new admin account. Delete the account I'd started with, then recreate it, log back in, fire up "Migration Assistant" and start over. This way, no duplicates, no lost files (though even if you skip this step chances are you'll be fine). But this time I would make sure I was on a local gigabit switch or using a crossover cable (the mac might even auto-negotiate a direct normal ethernet cable).

If you are already on the same wired network, then you rpbably are stuck.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:44 PM on August 13, 2014

everything cjorgensen and runes said.

You really, really want to do this over a wired network. I was once up until like 5am doing this between two macs over wifi because i was a doofus and somehow thought doing it as a network share like this was a good idea.

They really should add something to that migration screen that says "Hey, if you have a cable this will go faster if you plug it in. you don't have to, but it's a good idea if you can. if you don't know what this means just click next".

It will be vaguely a hassle to stop though, if it's at like... 10 hours now, i'd probably just let it finish.
posted by emptythought at 4:13 PM on August 13, 2014

I will second others' opinions on starting over, doing a factory reset, doing this over a wired network.

However, let me give you some food for thought from a totally different direction -

Start afresh. Don't copy over anything. If this is the first time you are moving away from the Windows platform or first time you are moving into the Apple platform, then re-learn everything. Learn how to do things the "Apple" way. Create your own new settings on the new platform.

Here's my disclaimer - I hate it when a machine, any operating system (Android / Windows / Apple / *nix) thinks it knows what's best for me. If the machine claims it is going to copy something for me, I better damn well know what exactly it is attempting to copy, otherwise I don't let it.

Now, you dont have to be that paranoid. But still, some prudence wouldn't hurt. Maybe it is copying some of your Dropbox files from C:. Install Dropbox fresh on the Mac and let it get its stuff.

That said, there might be some situations where it might definitely help to copy stuff over. You will know this over time, when you start using your apps. Maybe Chrome over on Windows has a few bookmarks saved. Use Chrome's sync to sync across your devices! So on and so forth...

Bottom line ... TL;DR ..... don't blindly allow the Mac to do all its copying .. start afresh. Learn doing things the Mac way. Get what you absolutely want slowly, over time .. perhaps by moving them with an external hard disk / thumb drive.
posted by harisund at 7:36 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

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