Matt Connolly's Blog

my brain dumps here…

Mac Migration Assistant from Time Machine Backup

I just upgraded to a new MacBook Pro. I spent *hours* trying to get Migration Assistant to do the network transfer from the old one to the new one. All I could deduce was that it wasn’t working because NFS couldn’t connect to the old one – most likely because I’d changed something that prevented it from working. (I was playing with NFS a few months ago).

Next choice: migrate from the latest time machine backup of the old one. I made sure that the old one had just finished a successful backup and then turned Time Machine off (because I didn’t want the old one writing to the backup while the new one was restoring…)

Next, Migration Assistant: select from Time Machine backup. Empty window. What?

My Time Machine drive is on a network machine (actually running OpenIndiana for ZFS mirror redundancy and netatalk for Apple File Sharing). If I try to set up Time Machine on the new machine, it sees my Time Machine drive. Why doesn’t Migration Assistant see it?

The answer is simple, but not obvious. You need to manually mount the backup’s .sparsebundle image file, so that you have both the Time Machine network drive and the Time Machine disk image mounted. Then Migration Assistant will see it.

Select the drive, select what users/settings to migrate. Go. Took a few hours to do the 200ish GB – done by the time I woke the next morning.

At the end of the day, a very smooth transition, with all my settings, icons, etc. ready to roll on the new one – although there were a few hurdles along the way…

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4 responses to “Mac Migration Assistant from Time Machine Backup

  1. chris 31 May, 2011 at 16:29

    Thanks! Simple indeed! This was frustrating the hell outta me, now I feel stupid haha. Thanks for this!!

  2. Karl 13 August, 2011 at 19:12

    >The answer is simple, but not obvious. You need to manually mount the backup’s .sparsebundle image file, so that you have both the Time Machine network drive and the Time Machine disk image mounted.

    Huh? I don’t understand that.

    • mattconnolly 10 September, 2011 at 10:23

      In my case, I needed to mount my network drive, and then on the network drive, mount the backup sparse image. I had two volumes on the desktop. Funny that making a backup doesn’t require this step but install and restore from one does.

  3. Brian 18 April, 2013 at 11:42

    Thank you, that saved me a lot of time.

    Mount a sparsebundle by double-clicking on it in the Finder.

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