Migrating to a new...whatever...

Over my many years in this game I have seen a lot of "easy migration" tools.

From special cables, to special software, to built-in tools ... most purport to get you from your old device to your new one without any pain. #yeahsure

You may be moving from an old phone to a new one, an old PC to a new one, a PC to a Mac, a Mac to a PC, a tablet to a new tablet...it doesn't matter, the thing is that there's a reason for changing and it isn't usually about the new thing being exactly the same as the old one.

As you can imagine I've been through all manner of migrations and the one constant is that none of them are magically easy.

Recently I helped a customer migrate from an old iMac to a new iMac. These things even looked almost the same just the spec's under the bonnet were different.

Apple says "use our easy built-in migration tool".

What Apple doesn't say, until you are committed, is that both machines have to be on exactly (EXACTLY) the same version of MacOS for their tool to even deign to start.

As you can imagine, quite often it is either impractical or impossible (often because Apple deems it impossible) to get an old iMac up to the latest operating system.

This most recent time the new iMac was not on the latest OS. Out of the box it was a version old and updating the "old" iMac made its operating system newer than the new iMac so we had to then update the new iMac as well before we could start.

You can start to see why, so often, I recommend we just set up the new machine from scratch...stand-alone...and copy over the files we need from the old machine.

It is also good to leave behind the things you no longer use, need or want. Re-installing software from scratch, often updating to the latest version in the process, can also remove a lot of accumulated frustrations.

If you are paying someone to do this for you, there can be a lot of wasted time just to get to the point where you can start a "magical" migration tool that, by average accounts, won't do what you want anyway (or fail part way through...as this one did).

Some people will recommend that you backup your old machine and then restore it to your new machine as if they were the same device.

Part of that advice may be OK if you can accurately filter out what is irrelevant and outright wrong for your new machine. If your backup isn't an image backup (that's a whole other rant), then restoring from it will/should allow you to pick and choose what you need.

But often backups and restores bump into the same compatibility issue that the migration tools do. Sometimes backup software on the old machine doesn't exist for the new machine so getting your data back only works TO the old machine.

On top of that and if the image backup restore works, you are imaging one machine as if it were the other, you'll be bringing over the problems of the old machine.

The other thing to consider is that this "backup and restore" process requires a working target i.e. new machine BEFORE you can't start the restore.

Think about that. You need your new machine up and running and the first thing you do is try to restore it to the state of your old obsolete machine.

It will probably end badly and you'll probably go around the loop a few times before you cut your losses and just start from afresh.

Some of these migrations do work a bit better than others.

I've been pleasantly surprised of late when I've had to upgrade my iPhone....but this too suffers from the "same OS version" restrictions BUT at least phone updates aren't as big, lengthy and painful as PC/Mac updates.

I suppose the take-away from this post is that if it sounds "too easy" it probably going to be problematic.

I can't tell you the number of times I've been forced, tricked, experimented with or flat out lied-to regarding the "ease" of a migration AND regretted trying it.

My advice to you is that "magic isn't real".

Set up your new machine from scratch and customise it from there. Because, on average that's the best bet by far.

Let me know in the comments below your experience and if you actually ever had a good old-to-new pc migration :-)


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