Using Migration Assistant with a one USB-C port MacBook

By on August 24th, 2017 in General

So you know that process where you use migration assistant to move an account from one Mac to a new one? With the MacBook, the customer can do this via one of the following methods.

  • Connect both computers to the same local Wi-Fi or Ethernet network.
  • Or connect both computers directly using a Thunderbolt, FireWire, or Ethernet cable.
  • Or connect the new Mac to a Time Capsule or external drive that has a Time Machine backup of your old Mac.

With the exception of Wi-Fi, none of the options works well when you need the USB-C port to connect the external hard drive or Ethernet cable (via an adapter) or USB-C to USB-C but the MacBook battery needs to be charged. I had planned on using Migration Assitant to transfer my son's account from the family iMac to his new MacBook. The MacBook only has one USB-C port. The 2013 iMac has USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt ports. It seemed to be the most practical migration path was to use a USB-C to Ethernet adapter. I picked one up at the Apple Store in the Quaker Bridge Mall. When I explained what it was for, the Apple genius tried to convince that I did not need an adapter. He told me to use a backup from Time Machine. I tried to explain that I would still need an adapter since my 2013 iMac did not have USB-C. Apple doesn’t sell those adapters.

I didn't have any problems connecting the two Macs via the Ethernet cable but before I could start the MacBook complained that the battery was low and I needed to charge it before Migration Assitant could continue. That meant that I could no longer use the USB-C to Ethernet adapter. I could either wait to do the migration after the battery was charged or I could use the ONE AND ONLY USB-C port to charge the MacBook and do the migration over Wi-Fi. Sigh.

I decided to use Wi-Fi to do the migration while the MacBook charged. I didn't know how long that would take but I had no choice but to migrate my son’s account info using Wi-Fi. But almost as soon as I started I had to stop. The new MacBook has an older version of macOS than the iMac. Migration Assistant could not continue until after I updated the macOS on the MacBook. Downloading and installing macOS to the MacBook took over 45 minutes.

Once the macOS update complete I was finally able to start migrating the account. According to the Migration Assistant, the process would take fours hours over Wi-Fi. Both Macs will be tied up during the process.

This experience has me thinking about how my son will backup his MacBook during the school year. Apple would most likely suggest backing up wireless to a Time Capsule. Wi-Fi is included in his residence hall room. There is no need for an access point. A Time Capsule would be useless.

I think the only option is to buy a $150 USB-C dock so that my son can charge the MacBook while he connects an external hard drive for use with Time Machine backup. Backing up to an external hard drive is the practical thing to do.

NOTE: In case you think this is a case of sour grapes consider this: Apple is offering back-to-school bundles that include a MacBook and Beats headphones. The Beats uses a USB to USB-mini cable. You can't charge your Beats via a MacBook. The iPhone is offered with a USB to Lightning cable. You can't charge your iPhone via a MacBook. What the f**k is Jonny Ive thinking!

One thought on “Using Migration Assistant with a one USB-C port MacBook”

  1. Yes, they should rename their company dongle!... but seriously as an investor can we get the clowns in charge thrown out for incompetence?

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