Girl Friday for Target Disk

Target disk mode is the greatest thing since sliced bread — connect two Macs with a FireWire cable, reboot one while holding the T key, and its hard drive appears on the desktop of the other, ready for data transfer. When I got the iMac a couple of weeks ago, decided to do my usual Carbon Copy Cloner stuff and blast a fully loaded OS and set of apps onto it (not sourced from my old Mac), then use target disk mode to load all of my user data on top of that. The process worked, but took a while and involved some pain (not worth going into).

Turns out, I’m lame.

Because I cloned it without ever booting it to “factory defaults” first, I never saw the new Setup Assistant Apple has apparently started shipping with all new Macs. Could have saved myself a few hours. When Amy’s Mini arrived yesterday, the Assistant appeared before the Desktop loaded — “Have an old Mac? Want to copy all your apps, user data and settings over? Plug in a FW cable, restart the old Mac with the T key down, and go have a smoke.” Well, it didn’t say that exactly, but something like it. Setup Assistant is basically a user-friendly intelligent wrapper around target disk mode. A Girl Friday for Mac migrations.

An hour later, the Mini was a nearly exact clone of her old machine – new OS and system apps, old user data, previously installed apps, and settings. Everything works flawlessly.

The Mini is even better IRL than pictured. Silent, small, fast, cheap, and beautifully designed. Apple hit one out of the park. It’s hard to get Amy excited about technology (she was talking about the plants in our yard while I was opening the carton), but after a morning using it, she’s totally in love with this box. And we have finally achieved a minor goal we set several months ago – a silent home office (it’s incredible how much noise two older PowerMacs can generate, and how that drone can get on your nerves in a subtle, background-y sort of way over time). The difference is night and day.

Music: His Name Is Alive :: Smooth

11 Replies to “Girl Friday for Target Disk”

  1. Also note that Setup Assistant is available in the Utilities folder — you can run it at any time, not just on first startup.

    Very handy!

  2. Scot,

    I’m glad to hear you had good results, but I’ve seen a few users end up with pretty screwy new systems using this migration tool. Applications that don’t launch. Packages that have reverted to folders. Printers that don’t print. Just a little additional feedback on this.


  3. When my G3 iBook Logic Board Went for the third time, I decided to back everything up onto my Firewire Drive. The iBook still worked in Target Mode even without a fully functional Logic Board, so I just daisy chained the iBook and iceCube to another iBook and created a disk image.

    When I got my replacement iBook (G4! Yay!) I tried to use the Setup Assistant to reclaim my documents, but I found it attempting to be too helpful. I could mount the iceCube, but i couldn’t mount the Disk Image that was on the iceCube. I ended up having to transfer my files manually, once OS X.3 was installed.

    If Setup Assistant could use a Disk Image as a source, rather than needing a physical partition, It would be fantastic for restoring from Backup after HDD Failure or Migrating to a new machine without having the old machine available.

  4. Interesting. Sounds like some configurations make it unhappy, and that I maybe got very lucky with Amy’s machine. Yeah, disk image support would be nice!

  5. The silence of my iMac is one of the things I love the most about it. That, and the way its little light pulses gently when the machine is in standby mode — like it’s breathing.

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