Migrating a Mac over USB

by Volker Weber

firewire usb

Yesterday I reported that I borrowed a Mac so that I could upgrade from an 80 GB SATA to a 160 GB drive. As Stefan has pointed out in the comments, that was not really necessary. I could have used a USB enclosure to hold the old drive and migrate from there.

Frankly, I did not know that. I knew that you did not need a second Mac, since the Migration Assistant can work with any volume it sees. I had assumed that it cannot see USB devices at this point, but that is nonsense. It is running on top of a fully functional OS X. It asks to put the old Mac into Firewire target mode, which renders it into an expensive drive enclosure.

When you swap the old drive out though, it will of course discover any external enclosure it has drivers for. Another lesson learned.


I recently found out that you will also be able to create a complete bootable backup on an external HDD (using Firewire only on PPC Macs or USB/Firewire on Intel Macs).

When I read your post I decided to finish my draft how-to, here's the result:

You will be able to migrate your data or boot from the external drive. Comes in very handy when your built-in HDD breaks down.

Jean Pierre Wenzel, 2007-01-18

Old vowe.net archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe