Migration Assistant

Apple Migration Assistant - transferring files in Tiger OS10.4

I've just spent two days transferring everything from my wife's old G4/400 tower to a newer Mac Mini 1.2GHz. The G4 contains two internal Hard Drives while the Mac Mini has only a single 80GB HD, so I added a 160GB Seagate FireWire drive which I had previously relegated in favour of a larger one on my own system.

Using "Migration Assistant" should have been easy - but it wasn't. I followed the instructions to connect the two Macs with a firewire cable and set the G4/400 into "target mode". The first time I clicked "OK", M.A. announced that it was going to take 222 hours and 35 minutes. My wife was due home at 5pm and I was doing this as a surprise so I couldn't afford to wait that long!

I started again but this time after "repairing permissions" on the G4/400. It produced a string of errors so it must have needed doing!

This time it was only going to take 9 hours and 36 minutes. I waited to see what progress it would make. After 4 hours it reached "6 hours an 35 minutes" then nothing changed for an hour. I had to shut down and disconnect because my wife was due home.

Meanwhile, a G4/1.2GHz iBook had arrived by post. I'd bought it from an eBay seller. It worked perfectly so I hooked it to my old G3 iBook and fired up "Migration Assistant". It took an hour to do its stuff. Everything looked OK and worked -- until I tried to find a file. "Spotlight" crashed each time I tried it. I "repaired permissions" and that fixed it (kicking myself again! I tell everyone else to "repair permissions" but forget to do it myself).

Next day I got up early and tried again. This time it stalled right away, with the "barber's pole" spinning for an hour. I gave up and searched the Internet. After finding the following instructions, I decided to do the job manually:

(Instructions copied from here, with grateful thanks to the original authors!
http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=435350 )

1. Backup your data first. This is vitally important in case you make a mistake or there's some other problem.

(Uh, yes, well, it's all on the G4/400 and I'm *copying* so zero risk).

2. Connect a Firewire cable between your old Mac and your new Intel Mac.

3. Startup your old Mac in Target Disk Mode.

4. Startup your new Mac for the first time, go through the setup and registration screens, but do NOT migrate data over. Get to your desktop on the new Mac without migrating any new data over.

(Already set up with a fresh installation).

5. Copy the following items from your old Mac to the new Mac:

In your /Home/ folder: Documents, Movies, Music, Pictures, and Sites folders.

In your /Home/Library/ folder:

/Home/Library/Application Support/AddressBook (copy the whole folder)

/Home/Library/Application Support/iCal (copy the whole folder)

Also in /Home/Library/Application Support (copy whatever else you need including folders for any third-party applications)

/Home/Library/Keychains (copy the whole folder)

/Home/Library/Mail (copy the whole folder)

/Home/Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail.plist (* This is a very important file which contains all email account settings and general mail preferences.)

/Home/Library/Preferences/ copy any preferences needed for third-party applications

/Home /Library/iTunes (copy the whole folder)

/Home /Library/Safari (copy the whole folder)

If you want cookies:


/Home/Library/Application Support/WebFoundation/HTTPCookies.plist

(This file didn't exist on my wife's Mac).

For Entourage users:

Entourage is in /Home/Documents/Microsoft User Data

Also in /Home/Library/Preferences/Microsoft

OK, did all that. Rebooted, repaired permissions (lots of errors!) Everything seemed OK. But hang on - only the basic Apple Applications!

Darn. Back into "target mode" to copy every application manually. Took ages.

Eventually I got it done and rebooted.

Toast was missing!

Darn. Back into "target mode" to copy Toast.

Garage band was missing!

Darn. Rooted through my installer discs until I found iLife06. Installed it. (I paid for the family licence).

Rebooted. Launched iTunes. Got the usual "do you want to search for music files?"


After several failed attempts, I went back to the Internet and checked Apple's Knowledge Base.

"How to re-create your iTunes Library":


or http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1451

That fixed it!

(Apple keep moving their pages. Let me know if the link fails to work. Try searching for the line in red, above.)

Next I tackled iPhoto. Again, it had "lost" the entire library and I couldn't get it to find it, even though I knew where it was. Eventually it was quicker to export her existing albums.

Exporting the images, album by album, was easy. I selected the album, selected "Export" in the "File" menu, selected image "title" to be the filename for each image, selected the destination folder and clicked OK.

When I came to import the albums it was as simple as dragging each one to the left hand window in iPhoto.

However, an error message popped up to tell me that some images were of an unrecognised format!

On investigation I noticed that they all had one trait in common. The filename contained a full stop. Typically "Ag. Nicolaos 2006". The fix was to add ".jpg" to the filename or to delete the full stop. It seems that iPhoto takes all characters after the last full stop to be the "extension" - even if it's really stupid! In this example, it thought the file type was " Nicolaos 2006".

Finally, I thought I'd fixed everything. I even set her desktop files so they looked the same and figured out how to get the Mac Mini to display the same photos as her "desktop", changing every five minutes.

I checked her email and her browser. Great, everything looks the same and functions correctly. I hid the Mac Mini and Firewire drive behind her monitor, leaving the G4 tower under the desk but not connected. Ten minutes later she arrived home from work and went to the bedroom. Two minutes passed then I heard "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO MY COMPUTER???"

Sh*t. My heart sank. What could be wrong? I went upstairs somewhat sheepishly and peered round the door with a sickly smile on my face.


Oh oh. I set Safari home page to Google and downloaded and installed Real Player. Then I pointed to the Mac Mini and explained that it was meant to be a surprise. She had the decency to give me a kiss before telling me to b***er off.

By the way; I think I discovered why "Migration Assistant choked. There was a HUGE movie file in the "Movies" folder. Even copying this manually (drag and drop) caused Finder to "hang" so I gave up. I didn't need it anyway.

So, if you have problems as I did, try deleting or moving large files out of the boot-up drive.

Another thing I could have tried (but didn't think of at at the time) was to clone the entire 80GB boot drive to the external Firewire drive and then use that as the "target disc" and migrate the files from there (minus the movie file).

Yesterday I decided I'd had enough of my own G4/2x1GHz tower (henceforth referred to as "G4T"). The internal fans are extremely noisy, it generates a lot of heat (thinking of the environment) and something was causing "cursor freeze" every day or two. I knew I would have trouble migrating because:

1). The G4T contains two hard drives with a combined capacity of several hundred Gigs.
2). Mac Mini ("MM") has a Hard Drive of only 80GB (unformatted) capacity.
2). "Migration Assistant" fails to see the boot drive when MM is connected to tower.

So I decided to take it in stages and used an empty 750GHz Firewire drive (FWD). I attempted to partition this to 80GB + the rest but Disk Utility (D.U.) was unable to do this. Each time I tried, I ended up with only one partition that was recognised. Eventually I settled for partitions of 200GB + 500GB. (200GB is the smallest partition that D.U. seems able to achieve on this particular drive.)

I copied all my data files and OS9 folder to the larger FWD partition.
I removed many files from the G4 tower "boot drive" to get the total below 60GB. I "repaired permissions".
I used my expensive Prosoft "Data Backup" to clone the G4T boot drive to the 200GB Firewire partition. It failed so I ended up downloading "Carbon Copy Cloner" (which many have recommended) and it appeared to do the job perfectly in just under 3 hours.
I connected the FWD to the MM, shoved a "Tiger" disc in and did a fresh installation. When "Migration Assistant" popped up it recognised the cloned drive and transferred all the files across. The FWD was left connected because I needed access to all the other files I'd copied earlier.

The MM booted up nicely and appeared to work OK. However, it had no internet access and various applications had "lost" files and "broken" aliases and I had to fix these, one by one. In particular, iMovie HD refused to work, popping up a message that said it required QuickTime 7. QT7 was there but, when I tried to launch it, it gave an error message saying a file was missing. I trashed it and downloaded the QT installer from Apple's site and ran it. It appeared to do the job but QuickTime was nowhere to be seen! I trashed all other QT files and ran the installer again. Rebooted, but still not QT. As a last resort, I unmounted the FWD and tried again. This time QT appeared in the "Applications" folder and worked. But I had to enter my QT Pro "key" to get full functionality. iMovie HD now works happily.

Spotlight kept crashing on various searches. I "repaired permissions" which helped but it still wasn't stable. Twice it caused the "Finder" to reboot. In the end I simply had to wait for it to "index" the drives. Today it seems stable and I think I've got everything working. No I haven't - it can't find the printer!
OK, I've "added new printer" so that's working. And the Epson scanner is also working (phew).
The only thing definitely not working is my "Phone Valet" telephone attachment. I've emailed "Parliant" support to ask advice on that.
Also, the MM refuses to sleep. If I select "sleep" the MM sleeps for a couple of seconds, then the FWD makes chugging noises and wakes it up! (Anyone got advice on this? I suspect it may be because I have icons of some OS9 applications in the Dock. All OS9 apps are on the FWD).

Later: It was because I'd copied the OS9 folder to the external drive. Putting the MM to sleep forced it to fire up the external drive to sleep "Classic", which in turn woke up the MM. Copying the OS9 folder to the MM HD solved the problem.

In conclusion, migrating to another Mac is never completely straightforward. The simplest I've had so far was from my G3 iBook to my G4 iBook. But I don't have any external devices on that and it contains less than half the applications that my other Macs have.

I can give the following tips:

1. Leave yourself at least a whole day free to complete the job and several hours for Spotlight to index.
2. Make sure the new computer's boot drive is large enough to hold the contents of the old one.
3. Backup everything.
4. Get rid of all large files that can easily be copied (rather than "migrated").
5. When you are ready to migrate, "repair permissions" on the old Mac before starting.
6. After migrating, "repair permissions" on the new Mac.
7. Cloning the old Mac boot drive to a Firewire drive and using that as the "target" for migrating can make life easier.
8. Expect to have problems with printer, scanner and Internet connection. You may have to "add new printer" to locate the driver software. Likewise with the scanner. For the Internet connection you'll probably need to use the setup assistant so have all details to hand.
9. You might "lose" iPhoto, iMusic and iMovie files/libraries. There are fairly simple ways to fix these so read up about them before fiddling, otherwise you could really screw things up.
10. Don't worry! Most people have a far less complicated set-up than mine and problems should be minimal.

Reference: Leopard http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3322

Tiger: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?path=Mac/10.4/en/mh2333.html

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