Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

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Small Law Survivor
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Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by Small Law Survivor » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:47 am

I have a 2010 Macbook Pro ("old mac"). I am prepared to get a new Macbook Air ("new mac").

However, I have a gazillion files on the old mac. I know there are duplicates, trash files, remnants of applications I've deleted incorrectly. I am understating - its a mess.

My initial plan was to clean up the old mac manually by deleting files, and then use "Migration Assistant" to transfer files to the new mac. But, as I go through this process, I'm realizing it is defective - I can't find the application files that are scattered over the computer. Some of the applications are so old I don't even know what they do. There is malware, I'm sure.

I have an alternative approach, which is to use Migration Assistant to copy only a few thousand text/spreadsheet type files, and my iTunes music/video collection to the new computer. I use Evernote, and I can install that and download the files associated with that program. I can reinstall any application programs. By doing this I can (I hope) avoid contaminating the new computer with some of the junk on the old computer, including (I'm embarrassed to admit), malware like MacKeeper.

My question to Boglehead techies: should I buy one of the "clean-up" programs that are used to clean a Mac before I transfer data to the new mac (and then mirror the old mac on the new mac), or should I just leave the old mac in its compromised state and transfer a few selected files manually?

Also: I do want to copy my passwords and bookmarks to the new mac - that would me important, and I'm not sure how to do that.

Thanks in advance for your advice!
67 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan:4% until age 70, 3% when social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 under diff names

livesoft
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by livesoft » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:56 am

I would make backups of both laptops to separate external hard disk drives first.
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GrowthSeeker
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by GrowthSeeker » Thu Jan 10, 2019 9:58 am

I'm a PC guy so I don't know about the MAC, but I would be tempted to clean up the old computer first, provided that cleanup process is likely to do significant good in identifying and correcting files that you might inadvertently copy over to the new computer.

btw, when you get rid of your old computer, consider wiping the drive first. One program for this is Darik's Boot and Nuke which boots from a CD and I think runs on linux so I think it works on both MAC and PC. AFAIK this wipes everything on the drive.

CCleaner I think works on MACs, and this has a feature of wiping and overwriting whitespace on the drive, as well as wiping temp files, browsing history, whatever you want. Just check or uncheck boxes in the preferences before using. This might help with the cleanup process before copying to the new machine, but there may be better MAC programs for the cleanup step.
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Fintechnick
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by Fintechnick » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:02 am

You do have an external hard drive for the old machine for back-up purposes, right? If not, step one is to purchase an inexpensive external drive. You’ll want it for back-up for the new machine anyways.

Use the external drive to make a back-up of the old machine using the Time Machine app (built-in free back-up software, already installed on your old Mac and very excellent).

Then re-start your new machine in Recovery mode and choose the option to restore the old time machine back-up to the new machine. Apple provides instructions on its website how to do this, in the support section.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by WhyNotUs » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:21 am

AVG makes a good antivirus malware program that is free download. It is a bit of a drag to keep it running all of the time as it slows the system but for your use of cleaning your old drive, it should be fine. Download it and run it when you are going to be away from your computer for several hours. It will quarantine bad files and then you will need to order it to delete them.

Once it is clean you can run a time machine backup to an external drive without forwarding all of those nasties. Once you have a backup. I would do as you suggest and either upload your files and music to icloud or google drive. At that point you have two backups to your old data.

Then connect the external drive and use migration assistant and select your itunes library and files that you really want on your new computer. You might want to wait and see. As someone who updates more often than you I often find having old files on an external drive of google drive more convenient than on my new laptop.
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Alexa9
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by Alexa9 » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:28 am

For an iTunes Library, you can use home sharing to import all your songs over wifi.
For photos and documents, you can drag and drop to an external hard drive or upload to iCloud, Google Drive, or similar.
You can also back up your entire hard drive and migrate it to your new computer I believe although I always set mine up new and just transfer the most important files. Kind of a "spring cleaning" when I get a new computer.

matthewbarnhart
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by matthewbarnhart » Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:53 am

I think you're on the right track, just starting from scratch.

When I get a new Mac, I always do a fresh install of the OS and apps. (I often do the same when doing OS upgrades between major versions.)

Passwords and bookmarks are synced via iCloud (I use Safari -- Chrome uses your Google account to sync these), and I use iCloud Music Library for iTunes. I don't use any other iCloud services. All critical personal files (photos, spreadsheets, QuickBooks files, etc) are stored in Dropbox or Google Drive.

(I do use Fastmail for my email, calendar, and contacts, so that does take a little bit of setup. But if you're using Google or iCloud for those services, then you don't have to think about that stuff.)

I do occasional Time Machine backups, and use Backblaze as my continuous cloud backup service.

It takes very little effort for me to get a new machine up-and-running these days, thanks to these assorted cloud services. Once I sign into iCloud and get the Dropbox and Google Drive apps installed, your data just appears.

ssquared87
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by ssquared87 » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:01 am

Just clean up the junk on your old computer first before you transfer files using migration assistant

rich126
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by rich126 » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:04 am

As others mentioned, always do a complete backup first.

I personally would never use a "clean up" program. They aren't worth the potential trouble and haven't really proved anything.

You can always delete stuff first and then use Migration Assistant or just do the migration and clean up later. As long as the new computer has sufficient drive space it is an easier process. I've done it a few times in the last year for new iMacs and it worked fine. The only issue I had was for a Microsoft Office license for the 2011 version of Office (obviously time for a new version but just a warning anyhow).

I'm not a Cloud user for most things and don't restrict myself to only Apple products.

ccieemeritus
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by ccieemeritus » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:05 am

MacKeeper is awful and hard to clean up. Ouch.

I recommend against a “clean up” program. Your willingness to manually copy stuff will help you. But you’ll find much of your application data in “~/Application Support”

+1 on making a backup.

Your old Mac is very old. Some of your old apps probably won’t even run on a new system. If you dont know what the app is don’t migrate it until you “miss” it.

I’ve migrated between Macs multiple times. Here’s my suggestion:

1) Use migration assistant to migrate your home directory but not your applications.

2) Create a new 2nd clean home directory to use just in case your 1st home directory migrated Mac keeper.

3) keep the old Mac to migrate applications individually as needed. These will be in the /Applications directory. It will be helpful to have a USB drive and (if necessary) usb-a to usb-c adapter cables for the usb drive.

4) Going forward try to buy apps from the Mac App Store. This makes reinstalls easier.

I advise you not to migrate the whole system given the age and amount of junk on the old system. Just your home directory. Macs usually don’t have much stuff outside of the home directory or /Applications anyway.
Last edited by ccieemeritus on Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

rigoodma
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by rigoodma » Thu Jan 10, 2019 11:09 am

I would start fresh with the new Mac. One option (just don't know if your old computer has this) is to use a Thunderbolt cable between the two to transmit at speed. I've done this with the last 2 laptop refreshes I received from my company and works fine. When you have Mac that is 8 years old, it's better to start clean.

If you use Safari, then the bookmarks and passwords should migrate over when you log into iCloud (as long as you selected that as an option in iCloud to sync). Same with Chrome or Firefox.

See the following: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202910

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Duckie
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by Duckie » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:08 pm

Small Law Survivor wrote:I do want to copy my passwords and bookmarks to the new mac - that would me important, and I'm not sure how to do that.
For bookmarks if you're using Safari, on the old computer with Safari open click on File > Export Bookmarks. That will create an HTML file. Transfer that file (using Time Machine, Migration Assistant, or Bluetooth) to the new computer and then with Safari open click on File > Import From > Bookmarks HTML File. That will give you back your old bookmarks.

Topic Author
Small Law Survivor
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by Small Law Survivor » Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:20 am

matthewbarnhart wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:53 am
When I get a new Mac, I always do a fresh install of the OS and apps. (I often do the same when doing OS upgrades between major versions.)
Matthewbarnhart: why do you do a fresh install of the OS? Can't I reasonably assume that the computer has the current OS?

p.s. just ordered the computer from COSTCO (save $50, plus 90 day return policy vs. Apple's 14 days)
67 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan:4% until age 70, 3% when social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 under diff names

matthewbarnhart
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by matthewbarnhart » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:05 am

Small Law Survivor wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 9:20 am
matthewbarnhart wrote:
Thu Jan 10, 2019 10:53 am
When I get a new Mac, I always do a fresh install of the OS and apps. (I often do the same when doing OS upgrades between major versions.)
Matthewbarnhart: why do you do a fresh install of the OS? Can't I reasonably assume that the computer has the current OS?
Because I'm a recovering computer nerd, and can't help myself :) It's definitely not necessary for most people.

There is an added psychological benefit that by starting over fresh every so often, I'm less worried about crashes, data loss, and testing my recovery system. But again, I used to do this kind of stuff for a living and don't mind it.

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Small Law Survivor
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Re: Techies: Advice on How to Transfer Data/Files from Old Mac to New Mac

Post by Small Law Survivor » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:03 pm

Thanks MatthewBarnhart!
67 yrs, semi-retired lawyer, 50/40/10 s/b/c, 70/30 dom/int'l. Plan:4% until age 70, 3% when social security kicks in. Boglehead since day 1 under diff names

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