Mac OS upgrade: using Migration Assistant to transfer settings, user, and applications

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I found a USB hard drive that’s been collecting dust in a closet for about three years. I noticed that it has a capacity of 500GB and therefore would make a great sandbox in which to find out whether Mac OS X 10.6 is compatible with my video editing software.

The USB drive had a few files on it which I decided to keep, so I copied them to my filled-to-the-brim internal drive, then reformatted the USB drive.

Then I started to install Mac OS 10.6.3 onto my repurposed drive. I selected the option to transfer the user and applications from the internal drive on my MacBook. The initial ETA said 7 and a half hours. A few minutes later the ETA said 4 and a half hours. A few minutes later again it said 2 and a half hours. I let it run overnight expecting it to be done by morning.

When I checked it the next morning the installation was still running, with an ETA of 55 minutes!

About half an hour later it still said 55 minutes. I decided it must be stuck and I aborted by holding down the Off button until the machine shut off.

It turned out that enough of the installation had been completed that the USB drive was bootable, and I successfully booted up the machine into Mac OS 10.6.

I used the Migration Assistant to transfer only the Settings from my internal drive. Once that completed I ran Migration Assistant again to transfer only the User from my internal drive. Once that completed I tried Photoshop to see if it would start up. I opened it from the Applications folder on my internal drive – got the message “Licensing for this product has stopped working.”

I ran Migration Assistant again and this time transfered the Applications from my internal drive. This transfer made a copy of all the applications from my internal drive to the USB drive. After the transfer completed I did another test and this time Photoshop and After Effects both successfully started up and did not give the “Licensing has stopped working…” message that I was seeing earlier!

Successfully opening these applications does not mean they are completely compatible with the newer OS, so I have further testing to do before I upgrade the OS on my internal drive.

Today’s learning was – if OS installation gets stuck while transfering data from “another Mac” (in this case from my internal drive), use Migration Assistant to perform each step of the transfer separately.

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