Having seen the option to restore from a Time Machine back-up using the Migration Assistant, I decided to do a fresh install of 10.5.1, then give the Migration Assistant route a go since I knew the restore from Time Machine backup option in the install utilities menu has already been proven to work well.
Once I formatted my replacement drive (a 320GB Seagate “7200.10”, exactly like the drive it was replacing) and taken care of the fresh install, the usual welcome screen launched and my registration info was pre-populated with the data I had entered the first time I registered. Once past the registration screen, the Migration Assistant appeared. I selected the “from a Time Machine backup” option, then clicked “Continue”. I was then prompted to select which items I would like to transfer (choices were “Users”, with the option to select only certain users, “Network and other settings”, “Application folder”, and “Files and folders on ‘Mac OS’”). I selected all options and clicked “Transfer”. All in all, I had 73.2 GB worth of data to transfer, which took around an hour.
So far, the only oddity I’ve run across was the “Tranfser Warnings and Errors.rtf” file that appeared on my desktop after the restore alerting me that I may need to re-install “Norton Utilities”. What’s odd about that is that I had never previously installed it or anything from Norton or Symantec in the first place.
Everything I was concerned about losing is still here (including some prefs and even browser cookies for the eleventy billion sites for which I was dreading having to re-enter login info). iTunes still knew who I was, iPhoto libraries were intact, and Adobe apps were still activated.
Two nice benefits I see so far to using the Migration Assistant restore option instead of the whole shootin’ match route from the aforementioned system install utilities menu:
- You get a chance to do a fresh install (which means you also get a chance to apply the latest version of the available updates - a good thing since Apple has pulled and reissued updated updaters a time or two in recent history).
- Restore time doesn’t seem as dreadfully long since the restore step is only restoring your data, settings and applications and not the entire OS, log files, caches, etc.
One tip when you’re done restoring (and happy with the results) is to make sure you remember to re-enable Time Machine, as mine was disabled after the restore. Also, if possible, buy a back-up drive for Time Machine use only that has at least double the capacity of the drive(s) you wish to back up. Once you’ve turned Time Machine back on, be sure to visit the options panel to be certain you’re backing up all the drives you want to back up. I have two external drives that were on the exclusion list by default, so my entire music collection wasn’t getting backed up.
Kudos to the folks at Apple responsible for Time Machine! You just saved my hide.