There I was, happily working away on my 27″ iMac (mid 2010) quad-core i5, 12GB RAM, 1TB SSD drive, built-in optical drive when the display started throwing up… patterned squares of color. A couple of reboots fixed the problem. Then it started happening more frequently. Later, the system wouldn’t boot up according to the schedule I set. Nothing earth shattering or job-stopping, but annoying and tell-tale signs of motherboard failure. I mean really, after seven years, who could blame it? I must have installed hundreds of pieces of software and had it running nearly 18 hours a day for seven years. It was time to move to a new machine. And lo and behold, Apple goes and releases updated versions of their iMacs. New processors, faster-speeds, Fusion drives, 5K Retina displays. Well dang, don’t that sound just sexy?

So I sent my nephew, an employee at a local Apple store, an email, and we had a brief technical exchange about the models and options and what I needed. Let me tell you how refreshing it is to speak to someone who knows your language. He invited me to come down and I did and made my purchase. I brought it home and removed it from the box and placed it on my desk, opposite where I moved my previous computer. “Now what?” I asked myself. I had two options. I could restore my files using my Time Machine backup (you’re using Time Machine, aren’t you?) along with the seven years of accumulated detritus, or I could manually restore only the files and applications I needed.

The easy way would be just to restore from Time Machine. All my files, email, apps, preferences, licenses would be there and everything would just work. More than likely. Doing it manually, I know I would suffer greatly trying to restore only those items I needed, but with a ton less clutter. If you know me, a glutton for punishment, you know what I decided.

Think Christmas!

That’s right, what do you do when it’s getting towards Christmas time? Make a list. Check it twice. Then you should probably check it again. Using your Time Machine backup drive or the actual drive used in the previous computer, search out and restore these files/folders (here’s a checklist to use):

  • Email
  • Client Files
  • Photos
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Documents
  • Downloads
  • Services
  • Fonts
  • Printers
  • Widgets
  • Remote backup
  • Time Machine
This list isn’t exhaustive, but should be 98% of what you should need. Some thoughts. If you can, save the original hard drive. I had the another HD in the office so I wiped that and swapped it for the SSD. That way, when I am done, I can wipe the Time Machine drive and start a complete new backup, while still maintaining a copy of all my original data. Bonus, the backup will no longer contain the accumulated crap. You can also use an external cable or storage dock to connect and use as the source for your restore files. Faster than using a Time Machine drive! 

When restoring/installing software, first see if you need an upgrade. This would be a good time to upgrade, especially if your software is older. Also because Apple is planning to abandon support for 32-bit applications, which many older apps are. Otherwise, reinstall, don’t copy. That guarantees all the right files go in all the right places. Then just enter the serial number. If you’re very picky, you can copy the preferences for that application over and it should preserve your settings and sometimes your license information. Otherwise, be prepared to look in many, many places for your support files. Here are some of them found in username/Library/:

  • Accounts
  • Application Support
  • Caches
  • Containers
  • Email
  • Email Downloads
  • Preferences
  • Services
Email was by far the trickiest part to restore so all my previous email could be seen. I did plenty of web searches to help me figure it out. You need to restore the files stored in the Accounts, Email and Email Downloads folders mentioned above, as well as the preferences file.
Let’s Do the Time Warp Again
Ooops. Looks like someone has been sitting on a blog for too long. How long has this been now? My nephew has moved to CA to take a job at Apple corporate (nice!) and I have had my desktop now for … egads! Two years, two months! We are now in the verge of OS X Catalina with no 32-bit support. We’ll see how that transition goes and when I decide to switch, this maybe the first OS I don’t jump on right away.

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