4 Replies Latest reply: Oct 28, 2008 12:08 PM by Glenn Carter
Bobspizza Level 1 (0 points)

I'm considering selling my current Macbook Pro and purchasing another Mac instead. My question is can I use a time machine backup of one Mac to restore information to another. I don't really mind reinstalling applications. I was just wondering about data files and the like.

Otherwise I'll burn everything I want to a DVD or copy it toa USb key.


Macbook Pro 2.4ghz, Mac OS X (10.5.5)
  • Glenn Carter Level 4 (3,360 points)

    You Can!

    *_Migrating User Data From One Mac to Another_*

    *Firewire Disk Mode*
    If you have a FireWire cable, you can connect one Mac to the other via FireWire Disk Mode. Then use Migration Assistant to transfer all of your files and applications over from the older Mac. It should result in a virtually identical setup as your previous Mac. Follow the instructions in this KB article:

    “How to use FireWire target disk mode”

    *Wirelessly or Directly Connected?* (For AirDisk Users)
    Bear in mind that for Time Machine to successfully migrate user data, the backup disk must be accessed in the same manner in which the backups were originally created. Otherwise, the backups may not be visible for migration.

    In other words, if backups were performed wirelessly to a hard disk attached to an Airport device, then the restoration will need to be performed wirelessly. On the other hand, if backups were performed with the hard disk attached directly to your Mac, then the restoration will need to be performed with the hard disk connected directly to your Mac You cannot perform backups via one means and be able to access them via another means.

    *Using Time Machine Before Initial Launch of New Mac*
    Before starting the new Mac for the first time, attach the hard disk that contains the Time Machine backups from the old Mac.

    Start the new Mac and begin the setup process. At some point it will ask you if you would like to Migrate/Import user data from another computer or a Time Machine backup disk. Follow the prompts and select the date of the backup you would like to restore your user data from. Once the migration is complete use Disk Utility to repair any permissions issues.

    *Using Time Machine After Initial Launch of New Mac*
    If you have already created a User Account on the new Mac using a DIFFERENT Username and Password from the old Mac, then do the following:

    Attach the hard disk containing the previous Macs' Time Machine backups to the new computer.
    Go to Applications --> Utilities --> and launch Migration Assistant.
    At the welcome dialogue click "Continue." You may be required to enter your Admin password.
    For Migration Method chose "From a Time Machine backup or other disk".
    Select the hard disk containing the previous Time Machine backups. (Give Migration Assistant some time as it scans the disk for eligible data to migrate.)
    Now select which User Accounts you would like to migrate over.

    However, if you have already created a User Account on the new Mac using the SAME Username and Password as the old Mac, then you will need to do this:

    Create a new User Admin Account on the new Mac with a completely unique name.
    Now, delete the first User Account you created on the new Mac - The one that is identical to the old Mac. (Of course, backup any important files that were created using the new User Account before deleting it.)
    Finally, use Migration Assistant as described above to move the old User Account data over from the Time Machine backups.

    *Full Backup After Restore*
    Bear in mind that in all cases Time Machine will perform a full backup after a full restore. This is normal. Time Machine will resume incremental backups after the full backup has completed. To view previous backups, Control-click or right-click the Time Machine icon in your Dock or Option-click the Time Machine menu extra and Choose "Browse Other Time Machine Disks," then select your previous backup volume. You will enter Time Machine and be able to browse your previous back ups and restore files. (http://support.apple.com/kb/TS1338)

    Let us know if this was helpful.

  • Bobspizza Level 1 (0 points)
    Thank you for the perfect in-depth response I was looking for.

  • Ron Bailey Level 1 (5 points)
    I have an issue that might be related. I am not trying to migrate from one machine to a newer one I am trying to get my wife's iPhoto backup from her old, and now dead, G4 iBook onto my MacMini. Does a 'restore' have to restore to the original machine or can I use the 'restore' to get all those photos safely onto another machine? Thanks
  • Glenn Carter Level 4 (3,360 points)

    Next time, feel free to start a new thread. As for your issue, I'm not entirely sure what kind of "restore" you are talking about. But...

    Do NOT perform a Full System "Restore" simply to restore an iPhoto library. Much depends on what you mean by...

    "I am trying to get my wife's iPhoto backup from her old, and now dead, G4 iBook onto my MacMini."

    Was the iBook being backed up to a Time Machine hard disk? Then attach that disk to your mini and Ctrl-Click your TM Dock icon. Select "Browse other Time Machine disks...". Choose her most recent backup.

    Navigate to her Home folder and then the Pictures folder. Inside, highlight the iPhoto Library icon.
    Go to the "Gear" button in the tool bar and select "Restore iPhoto Library to..."
    In the dialogue box navigate to the root level of your Minis' hard disk and click "Choose".

    Ensure that you do not "replace" your own iPhoto library with hers.

    On the other hand, if she was not backing up to a Time Machine disk then you will either need to connect the 2 Macs via FireWire Disk Mode and transfer it that way, or use a data recovery program like DataRescue II.

    If you need further assistance, then start a new topic and let us know what scenario describes your situation.