I recently received a new Mac Book Pro for Christmas, but guess what? The backups on my old Mac weren’t happening, and my files on Time Machine were out of date. I was unable to transfer my data. But I found a solution. To prevent this happening to you, and to find out what my solution was, read through the blog post so you don’t have to suffer the same experience.During November, the MacBook Pro that I’ve been using for the past seven years suffered a failure. I pinpointed the issue to the video card. What was happening was that the MBP would start up, but with a checkered screen. Everything I tried to do to resolve the issue didn’t work (and believe me, I tried a lot), and it was going to cost around $350 – $400 to repair. Since that’s not a small chunk of cash, my wife and I decided to save up and purchase a new Mac Book Pro, which I received for Christmas.

Here’s the kicker, the backups I thought were happening? Weren’t. Even worse, my Time Machine backups that I’d taken the time to setup were out of date and of no use. Better yet, I could only bootup the old Mac in Safe Mode. I was pretty devastated. This was like the backup storm waiting to happen. I wanted to use my new Mac Book Pro, but wanted the data off my old Mac transferred to my new one before using it as my main machine.

My Thought Process

Everyone who’s lost data knows the absolute dread of not being able to get it back. I had the past seven years of my life on my old Mac, and the thought of losing just one photo was unbearable. Even worse, the old Mac could only boot up in Safe Mode, so there was a number of restrictions I had to work around if I wanted to salvage the data. I mean, I could have kept the Mac knowing I could access the data if needed, but that wasn’t really a solution, it was only a bandaid. Since Safe Mode had my MPB pretty much in lockdown I had to get creative (better yet, since wireless is shut down in Safe Mode in OS X, I could only connect to the Internet with an ethernet cable).

My immediate thought was to utilize an online backup solution like Backblaze, Dropbox, or Carbonite. However, and I’m not sure whether this was just my Mac’s attempt at denying me to virtually every solution, but that was a no-go because it seemed like my Mac would only allow me to access the Internet for non-backup means. What I’m saying is, it was a pain in the butt to configure, and I already had the data I wanted, I just couldn’t get at it.

My next thought was to get the data from Time Machine. Pretty logical, right? Unfortunately, the last backup was done on March 31st so even if I could get Time Machine to transfer the data, it really wouldn’t be of use to me since the information was well out of date. I tried to make a current backup, but every time I tried, Time Machine would freeze at a certain part of the process. Once this happened several times, I went looking for another solution. Lesson learned here – if you use Time Machine make sure to set up regular back ups and never, ever, turn it off.

What I love about using Macs is that they make a complicated process simple. For example, when setting up a new Mac for the first time, there’s setup assistant, and also Migration Assistant. Great! This would give me a solution I would need! Not quite… In setting up my new MBP, I went through the process of trying to connect my old Mac (accessing the net via ethernet), and my new Mac (accessing the net on the same network through wireless). This worked great up until the part of the process where my old Mac had to talk to my new one – it just wasn’t happening. I tried multiple times with different network setups and unfortunately, could never get it to work (I tried over three different nights). I also tried by connecting the two Macs together and that didn’t work either.

As you might imagine, by this point I was getting extremely frustrated. Surely there was a solution? Well, there was, and ultimately, it was the only solution available.

The Solution

After exhausting all other options, I knew there was one solution left available to me. It’s not something I would generally recommend, because I’m all about preserving data, and not erasing it, but that’s exactly what I had to do. Since my last Time Machine update wasn’t recent I knew that it wasn’t useful to me. Coming to that conclusion meant I could live with the data being gone. The hard choice I had to make was this – I erased all of my Time Machine backups on my external hard drive and used Carbon Copy Cloner to clone everything from the hard drive on the MacBook Pro to the external hard drive. This was the most anxious three hours I’ve ever spent in front of a computer.

Fortunately, Carbon Copy Cloner came through like a champ and in the space of a few hours, I had transferred everything onto the external hard drive. Once I was sure that everything was copied over, I then connected the external hard drive to the new Mac and using Migration Assistant, was able to transfer everything over to the new Mac. It worked just as I expected it would.

Please use my frustration during this process as a learning experience. You can never have too many backups.

Products used during this Migration: