Migration strategy for moving to a new Mac Studio

Glenn Fleishman’s Take Control of Untangling Connections was released a week or so ago. In a section on USB and Thunderbolt Data, he discusses various capacities for various connections using Thunderbolt and USB-C cables.

So, I have a Mac Studio arriving in a few weeks. Among the questions I have is how to maximize the speed of migrating my data from my current 2020 iMac to the Mac Studio. One technique is to connect the computers directly with a Thunderbolt 3 cable; the other is to use my SSD data clone of the iMac with a claimed 10Gbps data rate via its supplied USB-C cable.

Both the iMac and Mac Studio claim to support a data rate of 40Gbps over a short Thunderbolt3 cable. However, Glenn’s book claims that when 2 Macs are connected via a Thunderbolt connection, a Peer-to-Peer 10Gps connection is used for the migration (pg 67 of the PDF edition) rather than the 40Gbps data connection. Even worse, his example in figure 29 claims that the actually achieved rate was only 15% of that.

The logistics of my office will require a bit of effort to configure the space for the Thunderbolt connection between the computers. If the actual transfer rate will be almost the same or worse for the , using the SSD will be simpler. So, my question is whether the computer-to-computer connection will actually use this lower rate.

My experience with migration using mac-to-mac thunderbolt has consistently been less than pleasing. The easiest and fastest way is migration from a directly connected SSD clone. Office reconfiguration should not be a requirement for system migrations.

Haven’t tried the direct connection…but I agree with James…the TB connected SSD will be plenty fast. That’s what I’m going to do.

I’m going to have a similar situation in the near future. I will be migrating from a 2010 27" iMac (stuck on High Sierra) to either a Mac Mini or a Mac Studio with the Studio Display (on Monterey, I assume). Right now, Time Machine on my iMac is using a FireWire hard drive. I’m assuming I’ll need a new Time Machine external drive for the new machine, and I’m not yet decided whether that drive should be HD or SSD. (HD would allow me to afford a larger drive, of course.) What I’m trying to wrap my head around is this:

I understand that a new Mac can migrate from the Time Machine backup of another Mac. Is there any reasonably inexpensive way to get my FireWire 800 TM drive connected to a new Mac? If so, would migrating from that backup still be brutally slow, either because of HD or because of the connection?

Since I won’t be ordering the new Mac for a little while, I’m thinking it might make sense instead to get the new external drive now, and use that for the migration? That leaves two questions.

(1) Is there something reasonable to buy as an external drive that would be able to attach to my old machine (USB 2.0) today and to a new machine (Thunderbolt 4 or USB-C) for its eventual life as a new backup drive?

(2) Assuming I can find a drive that would connect to both my current machine and the new machine, would it make sense to prep for migration on the old machine by setting the new drive up as a new Time Machine destination and then migrating from the TM backup? Or would it make more sense to clone the iMac’s drive to the external drive and then migrate from the clone?



I’d opt for a good sized USB HDD external drive. Either clone or Time Machine - with High Sierra you might be better off with the clone if you’re suspicious about how well Time Machine works in that version.

That gives you an option of either Migration Assistant, or copy of your documents “the old fashioned way”… I wouldn’t try to clone the disk back to the new M1 Mac due to all of the macOS file system and disk layout changes made since High Sierra.

That disk will then be good for backups of your shiny new machine (you’ll want to reformat it as APFS for use with Monterey). Keep your FIreWire drive as a “backup of last resort”.

Unless you are expecting to set the drive up with a bootable copy of macOS, a TB SSD is overkill IMO - spend the money on a larger USB HDD. The performance will be sufficient for the backup use case.

You might want to read what Joe Kissel has to say in his latest edition of “Take Control of Backing up your Mac”. Bootable clones are less useful for Big Sur and Monterey due to the Sealed System Volume and the separation of a read-only OS volume which reduces the probability of corrupting of the bootable OS. Also, one of the use cases for a bootable clone (the failure of the internal disk) is rendered useless with M1 Macs. You can’t boot a M1 Mac to anything if the internal SSD fails.

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I haven’t always trusted it. But when I used it a few months ago, it was 10 times faster than the 2nd best method and took tens of minutes for something I expected would take several hours. So maybe it’s better?

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If it’s of any interest, I went HDD because I also use Crashplan. So my local Time Machine backup (which backups terabytes of mine and other family members data over the network) is kind of an extra backup. It would be great to use it as the first line of defense, and we have had to restore at least one of our Macs from it. But our second line of defense is a deep history of files on Crashplan. All of us also use Google, Dropbox, and iCloud to varying extents, so we have a sort of third line of defense there. As a result, I can trust an HDD as long as it’s working. (In fact, I had to get Western Digital to replace this 8 TB drive after several months, which they did under warranty, charging me $25 to cross ship a new drive so I could copy stuff over, but that seemed reasonable.)

No. I’d plug in a drive to your 2010 iMac and copy the contents directly.

Probably not. You’ll likely want to format your new Time Machine drive as APFS for future compatibility. You can’t copy Time Machine backups from HFS+ to APFS.

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You’re best off connected an SSD directly since you likely won’t achieve a higher data rate over a Thunderbolt peer-to-peer connection.

I don’t know that I’m claiming anything—it’s in the spec? Intel makes it very clear that peer-to-peer is 10 Gbps between two host devices. The 20 Gbps and 40 Gbps rates are only available in a host/peripheral relationship.

The transfer took tens of minutes as I note above between two SSD-equipped Macs for ~400 GB. At 1.5 Gbps (192 MB/s), the math says that’s accurate! At 10 Gbps, a theoretical rate, it would have taken five minutes—which would be incredible. Apple has a lot of overhead in storing, so I’m assuming that explains the difference.

You can simply share the TM drive and it should work fine…or you can choose the old Mac as the source in Migration Assistant. If both machines re connected via Ethernet it will be slower than TB or USB3 drive…but should still take just a couple of hours…I migrated once via wifi and even that wasn’t too slow but it does take a bit of time.

Expecting my Mac Studio tomorrow (although it was still last seen in Hong Kong).
Any thoughts on Migrating from Time Machine vs. a CCC clone (both are up to date and in the same external Thunderbolt box)?


Good luck with seeing it on Monday. My Studio initially shipped on Saturday, April 9, through Hong Knog, with delivery expected in the USA on Wednesday, April 13. As of the evening of April 12, I had seen no updates on the USP My Choice web page or the UPS mobile app since Saturday. I first checked with UPS late in the afternoon of April 12. They instructed me to call Apple. I did so on Wednesday morning. Apple said they would notify UPS and provisionally set up shipping another unit.

The next day (April 14), the tracking log showed a note that the package was delayed. Later that day, they now changed the expected date toMonday, April 19. On Friday, I watched the package progress through Taipai and Anchorage to Louisville (UPS’s main hub). On Saturday, I saw that it arrived in Oakland, with the last entry at 11pm on Saturday showing it was being transferred to the local delivery hub. I’m crossing my fingers that it arrives undamaged on Monday.

In summary, it looks like your Studio may not arrive tomorrow. If you don’t see progress during the day, be ready to call Apple and report delivery problems. Shippers listen to the sender, not the recipient.

With regard to migration, I think that migration from a CCC clone should be faster than from a TM on the same device. It seems that using the clone would be faster as the migration doesn’t need to use TM snapshots to determine what is happening. However, if both are in APFS format on equally fast SSDs, the difference in time should be small, maybe not even measurable.

My wife’s M1 MacBook Pro had similar tracking, then suddenly was at a UPS depot 30" away. Certainly not placing bets on it though - Good Luck to us both.

Not having to parse all the TM snapshots seems like a good argument for CCC. Thanks.

I have yet to see a Mac actually achieve 10 Gbps real world over any USB 3.1 gen2 connection. Regardless of how fast the attached flash is. The very best I’m aware of is perhaps about 650 MB/s to raided Samsung PCIe flash.

Last time I migrated an Intel 13" MBP to a 14" MBP I used an Apple TB3 cable and saw really good transfer rates. Looking at the amount of time that passed and the data involved, I estimated it just above 20 Gbps (getting close to the 13" internal flash b/w). I wouldn’t consider anything else these days for migration.

(Migrating from a clone works just fine, no hesitations here. But show me a clone that will supply 20 Gbps first.)

Mine too…shipped on 13th, arrived HK 14th…no update. Ut still says delivery today. Migration Assistant works just fine using either TM or a clone…I would use whatever is the fastest, likely a clone if it’s on an SSD.

And mine now says “check back tomorrow” in the UPS app and a delivery date will be provided later on the web page…and arrived HK is still the last update. The strange thing is that the Studio delivery when I ordered it was late may and the display April 18-25…and the display still shows as processing while the Studio was apparently shipped.

Last night I got an update that gave me a 2-hour window for this morning.

Should have known better; no shipper has ever given me a 2-hour window. But, no, I blindly wiped my beloved Darth Vader Signature Edition Mac Pro and boxed it for trade-in. Been flailing away on an iPad all day… ;~}

Now neither Apple nor UPS seem to have a clue where it is. Couldn’t even tell me if it ever left Hong Kong.

If I have to unbox the MacPro, Apple will be sorry. You just wait… There gonna’ regret this… right, like they care… ah, good night…

Mine arrived on Monday, 5 minutes at 3:55 pm, 5 minutes ahead of the window I had been given. It arrived in great shape, and, in fact, I’m typing this response on it.

I do think that part of the problems with shipping out of Hong Kong is the Covid problem in Shanghai. I know that major portions of Shanghai are under full quarantine, and, even if the shipping hubs are not directly affected, they are probably short-staffed. So, I assume that everyone who normally ships through Shanghai is now shipping through alternate sites, with Hong Kong getting a lot of the action. UPS is having trouble with the increased load.

Anyway, I’ll try to have more about the migration experience in the next few days.

By the way, I am still keeping my old iMac alive to make it easier to work out licensing issues, among other things. Hopefully, I’ll have it ready for my niece by the middle of next week.

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I got a new notice today but only after I created a UPS account and logged in could I actually get the details. Mine got shipped from HK to Taiwan and then cleared customs in the US so it’s on it’s way for tomorrow…at least so they say…I think that UPS’s main import hub is in St. Louis, my wife used to be in the medical shipping biz and at least in 2012 their import/export hub was there. No explanation as to why it sat in HK for 3 or 4 days though…obviously something covid related but who really knows. Strange that the computer that was supposed to ship a month from now is getting here before the monitor which was supposed to be delivered this week or early next and is still processing…obviously a component shortage of some sort.

I didn’t nuke the old iMac yet…but do have an up to date SSD that it boots from so will just shut it down and use that to migrate when it arrives.

UPS’s US hub is Louisville. Note that a UPS MyChoice account is essential for detailed tracking. When I was getting frustrated, I checked out UPS’s cargo runs from Hong Kong using the Hong Kong airport site. As I recall, there were several HK>Anchorage>Louisville runs, one HK>Anchorage>Ontario(Southern California), a flight to Anchorage and Louisville via Japan, and one via Taiwan. My Studio ended up on the Taiwan version, followed by a flight to the Bay Area. One thing nice about checking out flight tracking apps; once I knew a flight number, I knew about when to check for the next update. As I noted earlier, I think the confusion in Hong Kong is due to Hong Kong getting a lot of shipments that would normally run through Shanghai.

Now that I have the Studio in hand, I noticed that the box claims it was made in Malaysia with components from all over. So why did it ship from China rather than someplace like Kuala Lumpur or Singapore? By the way, my basic Apple Studio Monitor shipped from Apple’s Southern California hub (Rialto). It is listed as being assembled in China; so Apple is apparently keeping a reasonable inventory of them.

The latest: “The delivery date will be provided as soon as possible.”

Stuck in Hong Kong since 4/15. Sigh, I may have to unpack the trade-in.