Jeff's Blog

Random notes on programming, web design and computer repair

Migration Assistant Mac USB-C

Migration Assistant Robust Copy

Did you know that during a migration of data using the Apple Migration Assistant that you can do some limited switching between wired and wireless connections without abandoning the transfer you already have in progress? While doing a recent transfer I noticed the Migration Assistant said “Connect an Ethernet cable to transfer data faster”, so I did. Right in the middle of a 100GB data transfer! Guess what? The Migration Assistant said it was reconnecting and then it took off and continued transferring only this time it was running over Ethernet. Gigabit Ethernet. The transfer was reduced by a factor of 6 and was now measured in minutes not hours.

Wifi vs Ethernet

Disabling the Wifi before starting Migration Assistant on the old Mac is not good enough if you plan on using Gigabit Ethernet on the old Mac.

Use the fastest connection on each machine

Most migrations are going to be from an older Mac to a newer one. The fastest network connection on each machine will vary. For example, 2012 MacBook Pro 15 with Retina does not have 802.11AC and should be connected via Thunderbolt Gigabit Ethernet or directly over Thunderbolt Target Mode if your new machine has Thunderbolt. Older MacBook Pros with optical drives should all be connected via Gigabit Ethernet as they also have much slower Wifi.

Battery Life

I have a fully charged battery on my new MacBook Retina 12. Will I be able to complete a migration before running out of battery? The reality is that you probably don’t want to risk it. So many other factors play into the speed of the transfer that it just might take hours of non-stop transfer which is not very battery efficient. You are better off to use a method of transfer that includes keeping the power cable plugged in during transfer.

Time Machine

You thought I was going to talk about how to use Time Machine to transfer data. Oh no, this is about remembering to TURN OFF time machine on your other computers if you only have a Time Capsule as the increase in traffic will cause your migration to slow down.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes the transfer is so miserably slow, it might be better to simply pull the hard drive out of the old computer and boot it on a newer high-powered machine or simply plug it in directly to the new Mac with a USB to SATA adapter. Of course the new single USB-C port MacBook will make this very difficult if you don’t have one of the $79 USB-C Digital AV Multiport adapters. Even if you pull the hard drive, older 5400 RPM 2.5" hard drives with lots of little files are just plain slow. At least this is the last time you have to deal with rotating media and can live in the bliss that is SSD.

Check List

  • Buy the USB-C multiport adapter when you buy your MacBook Retina 12
  • Turn OFF Time Machine
  • Make sure you have a 5GHz only network
  • Delete Wifi connections (do not simply Turn Off Wifi, migration assistant will turn it on)
  • Use Gigabit or 802.11AC