System Admin on Apple’s Mac OS X Migration Assistant: ‘It all just works, good job Apple’

“Like a lot of sysadmins, I had a series of scripts and procedures that I used to set up a new machine for a user. They did the job, and well, so I had pooh-poohed the Migration Assistant until this week when I was doing a group of machine upgrades and decided to give it a try. I had already run all the current updates on the boxes, (Quad G5s for our designers), and joined them to our Open Directory domain,” John Welch writes for Datamation.

“I was so very, very wrong about Migration Assistant. It’s far better than any script I could have come up with. You take the old Mac, put it into Target Disk Mode, hook a Firewire cable between them and run Migration Assistant. It lets you pick which users you want to move over. That’s fantastic for pruning old local accounts. It also moves over all applications, user data and even user account records that aren’t already on the new machines. It all just works,” Welch writes. “The biggest thing you have to watch for is if you have multiple system drives. Migration Assistant is only going to use the first disk on the main ATA bus that it finds. If you’re booting from the second disk, it won’t find it. But that’s it, and that’s easily worked around …it was absolutely problem free. I started it when the designers went home, and by the next morning, it was finished, and they were ready to go. The Apple folks did a good job working on this one.”

Full article here.

Find out more about Apple Mac OS X’s Migration Assistant here.

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  1. It is a great application!

    I just used it to clone my system onto another machine so I could send mine off for service.

    If you are able to transfer to an identical piece of hardware, it is like your own machine was away being repaired. The CLONE is an exact DUPLICATE of your own computer.

    Without this great tool, such a thing would be very difficult to accomplish

  2. Just a small note:

    For migration Assistant to work, the old computer must be using OS X (any version). It doesn’t work with non-Mac systems or OS 9.

    When you start up a new Mac, the Migration Assistant is one of the first things it launches so you don’t have to type in all of your old account and network info. So, when you buy a new Mac, be sure to buy a Firewire cable, too. It will make your setup a breeze!

  3. Can you use it to migrate from an older iMac that has no FireWire? I recently bought my daughter a new iMac to replace her old G3 version. It has no FireWire, which this article references. I’ve never used this app and am unfamiliar with it.

    If anyone knows, please clue me in. Thanks.

  4. Microsoft would have called it something like Windows Digital Asset Displacement Protocol Orifice Nebula Wizard

    (Nebula because they sometimes try and throw in an artsy fartsy word to be ‘cool’ like Apple)

  5. I work for a small graphics company and do most of the designing. For whatever reason the boss seems to think I’m the techie around here.So, get stuck pounding my head against the wall with the networking and such. A few months a go we replaced four of our Macs and used this function on all of them. It worked seemlessly. My boss was shocked how all th setting were intact. He figured we’d have some downtime for configurations. It just works and well(MW).

  6. I used the Migration Assistant and it corrupted the preference files for Networking, .Mac, Keychain, Mail and a whole list of other items. It also failed to migrate the files that hold registration keys for most 3rd party apps. After a number of calls to Apple, I ended up dumping the whole setup and doing a clean install of the OS, apps and files.

    For the most simple setups it may work, but i will not trust it again. I had to spend way too much time getting my new Mac set up correctly.

  7. If the internal drive has been replaced and the new drive was set different from the original ATA setting, then Target mode will not work. Ran into 2 G4s that had this issue.

    Otherwise excellent program. Just got to be aware of multiple drives and whatnot.

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