Tales from IT – Restoring Time Machine Backups to a New Mac Using Migration Assistant



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Maniac’s girlfriend had a 2010 MacBook Pro which recently died on her. Thankfully, she had kept regular Time Machine backups before the computer died, and while they didn’t include files she had made in the last two months, the vast majority of her programs and documents were safely on her time machine drive.

Mac data is not compatible with Windows PCs, so to recover her data she needed to buy a new Mac. Macs have an internal program called Migration Assistant which is designed to copy data from older Macs using three possible methods: Direct Ethernet, Direct Data Transfer from Target Disk Mode, or Time Machine backups. The first two options were not possible, so we attempted to move all the data from her Time Machine backup.

Here’s how it worked, some tips for what not to do, and some errors you can expect if you decide to perform this procedure!

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