How Long Does Migration Assistant Take?

Migration Assistant is an excellent feature that allows you to move data from your old Mac to your new one. You can transfer almost everything to your new Mac, such as contacts, calendars, email accounts, and more, making it possible to continue where you left off on your brand new Mac. 

However, have you ever wondered how long Migration Assistant takes and why your Mac takes so long to transfer files to your new machine? If you have, then you are not the only one. And we will help you find out in the section below. 

How Does Migration Assistant Work?

Migration Assistant copies all of your files from your old Mac to your new machine, eliminating the need to copy them manually. To use this tool, you need to meet the following requirements:

Update your Mac: Both your Macs need to be running the latest firmware updates. Go to System Preferences > Software Update > Update Now to update a Mac. Your Mac will need to restart after the download has been installed. 

Make sure your old Mac has a name: If you have not already named your Mac, give it a name before proceeding with the transfer. To do it, open System Preferences > Sharing and enter a name for your Mac in the Computer Name field. 

Connect your old and new Macs to a power source: Make sure both devices are plugged into a power source to have enough juice during the migration process. 

Disable antivirus or firewall software: If you now have an antivirus or firewall software installed on your Mac, disable it temporarily until the migration process is complete. 

Back up your data: Before you engage in any file transferring, it’s always good to back up your Mac using Time Machine if something goes wrong with the migration process. 

Migration Assistant uses several ways to transfer your data from your old Mac to the new one, including an Ethernet cable, Wi-Fi, and a Time Machine backup. The steps will be different based on the type of way you choose for data migration.

How Long Does The File Transfer Take?

The time for transferring files from your old Mac to the new one depends on which method you choose. The size and the number of files also influence the transfer speeds. We ran a few tests to see how fast the file transfer is. 

Method 1: Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is one of the easiest ways to transfer your data to your new Mac. The process is simple. You need to put the two Mac machines close to the Wi-Fi hotspot. The duration of the transfer may depend on your Wi-Fi speed. 

Wi-Fi Router

If you now have a modern Wi-Fi router (2013 or newer), it should support the 802.11ac standard. This means that you can achieve almost 1GB per minute, which is acceptable. However, if your router supports an old standard, it may take up to 3 minutes to transfer 1GB of files. 

We tried to transfer files from a MacBook Pro (2010) to a 2020 model. Both models support the 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol. The time for moving a full 256GB hard drive on the old Mac model over Wi-Fi was 2 hours and 44 minutes

Note that the transfer process will use your WiFi at its maximum speed. Your access to any internet services may slow down the speed during your transfer. 

Method 2: Ethernet

You can use an Ethernet cable to transfer files between Mac machines. Transferring files over Ethernet is faster than Wi-Fi. To take advantage of its maximum speed, make sure you go for Thunderbolt 3 or above standard cables. You can grab the cable from Apple’s online store or offline retailers. 

Anker Ethernet adapter

If your Mac does not have an Ethernet port, use a Thunderbolt 3 to Ethernet adapter. With the right equipment, you can expect to transfer 2GB of data per minute. 

Using a network adapter, we tried transferring a 250GB hard drive on the MacBook Pro (mid-2015) to an M1 2020 MacBook Air. The time was 30 minutes, which is pretty impressive. 

If you have an older Mac (2010 or older), the data transfer time is much slower. It took more than 1 hour and 30 minutes to transfer 250GB of files from a 2010 MacBook Pro to a 2020 MacBook Pro with an SSD. 

Method 3: Time Machine Backup

If you made a Time Machine backup of your Mac, Migration Assistant can use your backup to restore your data, including apps and everything in your Apple ID account. The duration of the file transfer depends on how much data you have on your Mac. 

We used a Samsung Portable SSD T7 Touch with a Time Machine backup on it during our test. The external drive is expected to achieve sequential read speeds of 1,050MBps and sequential write speeds of 1,000MBps. It took only 4 minutes to transfer a 250GB hard drive to our new M1 MacBook Pro. That’s insanely fast.

How to Speed Up Migration Assistant?

Your file transfer speed depends on how you do your transfer. But, there are some tips to speed up the process. 

Restart Your Mac: If you notice that Migration Assistant takes so long to transfer files, try restarting your Mac. A restart should improve the speed. To restart a Mac, click Apple Menu > Restart. 

Use the correct Thunderbolt 3 cable: We suggest you go for a Thunderbolt 3 cable to maximize the transfer speed. All Mac models after 2016 come with Thunderbolt 3 ports, so make sure you have the right equipment.  

The Bottom Line

Buying a new Mac is exciting, but the thought of moving hundreds of Gigabytes of data can drain that excitement. Migration Assistant makes that process less painful than before. With the right equipment and method, you can quickly transfer files to your new Mac. 

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