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So I saved up my shekels for a while, and finally was able to afford a new MacPro. So I dutifully hooked up my Time Machine backup from the old desktop to read into the new one and ran out the door (late for an appointment). Migration tip #1  – *make time* for this. I needed to pull disks from the old machine into the new one, as well as get the new machine set up in hurry, and still get out the door. 

Imagine my surprise a few days later when I tried to fire up Parallels and it couldn't find my virtual machine files. Where did they go? Well, guess what directory I was excluding from Time Machine. VMs are a bad choice for Time Machine, because you can fire one up, change one small file, and you need to back up 20 GB. So normally you would exclude them. Of course, I had other backups – until I moved all my disks around to build out the other machine and started wiping stuff out. I was fortunate that I had older versions on another disk (my VMs don't change all that much – the only one that does is on another machine). So I lucked out there.

Then I fired up Outlook, and it wanted the serial number again. Of course, I have the disk right…uh, no, it's not there, it's..uh..missing. Fortunately, I put it in a secure note inside my Keychain, so I was able to recover from that. (Why didn't I use the serial number recover tool I wrote about earlier? It doesn't work on Office 2011 yet.) Then I had to re-setup my mail connection to work. Why? Guess what else was excluded from TM backups?  Yup, the Microsoft User Data directory. This is because Entourage, from the older version of Office, kept all it's mail in one giant file, and, just like the VMs, you didn't want 10 versions a day just because you checked your mail on got a piece of spam. I was safe again because all my mail is on our work server, so it just had to re-sync.

The next fun issue? Final Cut Pro. Now, I don't use it much anymore now that I have Premiere Pro. But I do have a few older projects that I don't want to re-do. Also, I use the MPEG playback component. Well, none of that stuff was working – MPEG playback was broken and Final Cut wanted my serial number. I really don't know *why* that happened! I wasn't excluding anything along those lines that I know of.  At least (after a bit of digging) I found the disks and the serial number for that.

So Tip #2 for migrating – have all your important software handy to re-install (including serial numbers), just in case something doesn't work right with Migration Assistant. If I hadn't been in a hurry, I would have had my old backup disk still available for a week or two, but I wanted to get things changed around quickly.

Tip#3 – use a full backup if available, not just a TM backup. Yes, it did work for most of my stuff, but a few of these problems wouldn't have occurred if I had used my full backup (I suspect I would still have had the Final Cut problem).

Today's clip is not an actual video of the band, as most of the ones I found of live performances were – um – filled with salier language before the music than I prefer for this blog.


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  • Apple’s “Pro” apps seem to sense when something has changed. I had to replace, at different times, my MBP logic board and later the internal hard drive. In both cases, I had to add the serial numbers for both Aperture and Final Cut Studio.

  • Do you prefer migrating using Time Machine to a direct migration from the old hard drive (or a cloned backup)?

  • Brian

    This doesn’t make sense. You should connect the new machine to the old machine via a firewire or USB or network cable. Then the migration assistant does it’s thing. You should not have to remove hard drives or use the time machine backup at all. Did you just migrate from Windoze-land, or what?

  • Steve,

    Normally I use a cloned backup, but because I was moving drives all around (and in a hurry) it was more convenient to use the Time Machine backup. Some of my problems are due to using the “convenient” backup when I should have used the clone.


    I removed hard drives because I wanted to re-purpose them; some from the old machine went into the new, one stayed with the old machine. I didn’t go into the details here because that wasn’t the point of the article, and it’s not a Migration Assistant tutorial. It’s more a warning about what you’ve backed up and how. I actually migrated via eSATA, which was considerably faster than any of the methods you mentioned. But that also wasn’t pertinent to the article, as again, this isn’t a Migration Assistant tutorial.

  • Ken,

    Yeah, I suspect they use the MAC address of the primary ethernet adapter, as that’s what I’ve seen suggested in some developer docs to use to identify systems.