eXtensions - Saturday 17 December 2016

Cassandra: Migrating between 2016 MacBook Pro Models - Problems and Solutions

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By Graham K. Rogers


I took delivery of a new 13" MacBook Pro on Thursday. I ordered this when they were first shown as available in Thailand, but delivery was pushed back a few weeks. It seems these new Macs are more in demand than the critics would have us believe. As I have done for my last few purchases, I made sure I had the larger (512GB) SSD and upgraded the RAM to 16GB.

The 2013 MacBook Pro was much faster than the i7 15" version it replaced. Its SSD, faster bus speeds and increased memory made a considerable difference. I wanted to repeat that experience with the even faster SSD and bus speeds with the 2.9GHz i5 chip that this new Mac has.

MacBook Pro A few days after placing the order, I was loaned a 15" MacBook Pro, also with 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM and the i7 processor. I had intended to use this as a text machine, but after a few enjoyable days, I bit the bullet and transferred all the data across from a Time Machine backup.

I intended to repeat this with the 13" MacBook Pro at the weekend, but you know how it is, how could I leave a new Mac unused? Late that night I decided to set it up.


The 13" Mac had arrived a few hours after Apple released an update to macOS (10.12.2). When I arrived at the part of the installation when I was asked to connect a suitable Time Machine disk, I was dismayed to see that the most recent backup available for use was from around 8am in the morning, not the ones I had made during the day.

When I tried Migration Assistant from the 15" Mac as the installation suggested, I saw why: there was a warning about the different versions of macOS. As it had only just arrived, the 13" Mac was running 10.12.1 and there could (would?) have been a conflict. The only way to update was to complete the installation without the transfer of data, update macOS and catch up later.


Friday evening, having prepared several Time Machine backups on three separate disks (two at home and one in the office for luck), I was ready, but decided to use Migration Assistant instead. I connected the two Macs with a Thunderbolt 3 cable (USB-C) and fired up the utility on the 15" Mac, but once this was running, also had to run Migration Assistant from the 13" Mac: one from and one to.

Migrating to MacBook Pro

Once the initial steps were taken and I selected the changes I wanted, confirming that all data was to be replaced on the new Mac, I let it run. At about 24MB/s it reported that it would be done in something over three hours. While it was running, I was a little worried about battery levels. I was unsure how much power the process would take, even though both machines were fully charged before I started.

I only have two USB-C to USB-C cables. One was connected to the charger of the 15" Mac, and the other was used for data transfer between the machines. However, it seems that the data transfer also provides power as battery icons on both machines indicated they were charging.

Migration Migration

I went to bed. During the night the job was done. The 15" Mac (master) reported Migration Complete The 13" MacBook Pro showed a problem with Little Snitch rules (easily resolved) and also indicated that the version of iStat Server was not compatible with this version of macOS.

I quit Migration Assistant on the 15" Mac and the login screen was displayed. I will delete the user account on the Mac later. I cleared the problem panel on the 13" Mac and quit Migration Complet. That Mac also showed the login panel.

Ready to roll (although I experienced a few configuration changes when I did start work).

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. He is now continuing that in the Bangkok Post supplement, Life. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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