Transfering between Macs

What is the best way to transfer the entire contents of an old G5 Mac to a new Mac Pro? I have tons of files (including over 20,000 in iTunes and several thousand Photoshop images).

But the G5 doesn’t have a monitor (I can buy a cheap monitor for it, if necessary).

And I want to use the older version of iTunes.

Target Disk Mode.

That’s one of the things I already tried. I got as far as having that icon moving around on the screen . . . but what do I do next?

Temporarily hook up the monitor you DO have to the G5. Go to the Startup Device Control prefspane and set it to reboot in Firewire Target Mode and reboot. Unplug monitor when you see the floating firewire symbol (leave computer running).

Hook monitor to Mac Pro. Run firewire cable between the computers. Boot.

Use Migration Assistant to move your files over.

Or just drag and drop 'em manually if you prefer.

You should probably have used the Migration Assistant, which makes this trivially easy, but it might be too late now.

Connect the computers with a FireWire cable, then use Migration Assistant.

You can also use Migration Assistant to move stuff over via Ethernet or WiFi (if both computers are on the same network) but then you want to boot the old machine in normal mode (not target disk mode.)

Target Disk Mode is your best bet. I would caution against using Migration Assistant if the G5 and the new Mac aren’t running the same OS or the OS just previous. Using Migration Assistant with a large gap between the operating systems can introduce supporting files and folders that the newer OS doesn’t know how to interrupt and can cause really strange app behavior.

I think my biggest problem is moving things from a Power PC Mac to an Intel Mac. Even with Target Disk Mode, it’s not showing the G5 on the Mac Pro’s desktop. And I don’t think the G5 even has Migration Assistant. I even tried using Bluetooth, but it would take YEARS to move everything.

Anyway, just to minimize the problems, I’m trying to hook up an old monitor to the G5, but need to get an adapter.


And who the hell decided that the computer I’m moving stuff FROM is called the “target”?

Taget Disk mode - once you have mounted a disk this way, you can move files in either direction.

As far as Migration Assistant goes, you run it on the machine you are transferring files to - so the intel Machine. And, yes, the G5 certainly has Migration Assistant.

Does anyone have experience with using target disk vs migration assistant for non-system (i.e. Adobe Photoshop rather than itunes) programs which one doesn’t wish to have to dig out the install disks for again?

Yes, and it’s not trivial.
In addition to the Application itself, you need to transfer stuff in /Library/Adobe and /Library/Application Support, and maybe some other places too.

It can be done, but it’s a pain. The best way to do that is to reinstall from the original install discs. That’s why whenever I buy expensive software I make an image of the install discs and store them on my NAS (along with a file containing the serial numbers and whatnot) and then toss the discs.

Note, target disk mode and migration assistant are not mutually exclusive. If you can, use migration assistant. Migration assistant can use a number of connections to your old machine to move the information. Target disk mode over Firewire was the preferred way, as it is seriously quick. But migration assistant will also work over Ethernet, even over WiFi, and of course modern machines can do it over Thunderbolt. Because migration assistant understands the layout of the the operating system it can configure your new Mac to work exactly like the old one, with all the same system settings, user accounts, preferences etc etc.

The machine you migrate from does not need to run anything, either place it in target disk mode - in which case it looks just like a disk, or if you can’t use Firewire, turn on file sharing on the old Mac, and connect it to the new one with an Ethernet cable. Migration assistant only runs on the new Mac, and it will work it out.

What migration assistant can’t help you with is old applications, as nothing can help you here. A G5 is a PowerPC based machine. Any modern Mac, from about 5 years ago onwards is Intel x86 based. As of OSX 10.6 (Lion) Apple removed the Rosetta system, which provided a way of emulation a PowerPC on an x86. At this point no PowerPC applications will run on the Mac. If the application has been built to run on both (which would mean it was bought in the last 5 years) they will be OK. But legacy applications, probably bought at the same time as the G5 and not updated will require new versions.

Also, if the new Mac is a Mac Pro, just grab the drive out of the G5 Mac and slide it into the new Mac Pro (assuming it’s SATA, I don’t remember whether the G5 ones were or not, but I think so). You don’t even have to shut down. You can’t boot from it, but again, it’s available as a disk to transfer files manually or via Migration Assistant.

For moving Applications, I’d use Migration Assistant, even if the two OSes are far apart (just don’t move the OS Settings), because it’ll take care of the preferences and stuff for ya.

For Adobe stuff in particular, though, you’re better to uninstall and reinstall with the original disks, because they count your installs. However, be aware that PPC versions of Adobe apps are at best several versions old, and won’t run very well on modern Macs in any case.

I don’t think they will run at all. IIRC, PPC app support ended when Lion came our a couple of years ago. Best solution today is probably running Snow Leopard in a VM.

I didn’t realize this. So you can hot swap drives in a MacPro? (Assuming you unmount drives first.)

Noooo. But the Mac Pro has two SATA bays.
This plan obviously does not work if you ordered the new box with two drives already in it.

No home should be without a Newertech SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Universal Drive Adapter. That—and Carbon Copy Cloner software—will allow you to move files to a new drive very easily, and even make it bootable if you want.

You do not really need a monitor hooked up to the target disk mode G5: just plug in a keyboard and hold down the “T” key, then hit the power button. Wait long enough to be sure that it is not actually trying to boot. Have the firewire cable plugged in between the two and the new machine already running so you can see the old machine mount. You might want to have disk utility open so you can see the G5 appear as a drive.

Just to reiterate - there is essentially zero downside to target mode, and use of migration assistant is almost universally the right thing to do. With a Mac to Mac transfer you simply don’t need anything else. Messing with removing disks, disk adaptor boxes, and the like is simply the wrong answer. With Windows boxes and Unix boxes you usually do need to mess about with all the additional grief, but not with a Mac.

Note, you shouldn’t hot swap a standalone Mac disk without first unmounting the file system. Doing so risks the disk containing an inconsistent view of the file system. If journalling was enabled there is an additional level of insulation from problems, but it isn’t water tight.