I’ve received a lot of emails lately asking how to move data from an older Mac to a new one. Now, we’re not talking about a couple of years old, we’re talking Performas from 1993. Yes, there are people out there being highly productive on ten-year-old Macs.
Anyway, very old Macs do pose some unique problems when trying to transfer files to newer Macs. A lot has changed. IDE hard drives are now the standard, and new Macs don’t have SCSI ports. USB and FireWire are now the rage, and the floppy drive is long gone.
The fastest way to transfer, if your old Mac has an Ethernet port, is to connect the old and the new with an Ethernet cable. When I say “fastest” I mean the speed once you get them connected. Actually making the connection can be quite time-consuming and complex, as some older network cards require an adapter and a different cable. If this is your only recourse, email me and we’ll get through it together.
If you have an internet connection (preferably a fast one), you can always email files to yourself from the old Mac, connect the new Mac to the internet, and retrieve the files from the email.
If your old Mac has a floppy drive, copy your files onto floppy disks. Since your new Mac most likely has USB ports, purchase a USB floppy drive (around $39 from online Mac resellers).
If your old Mac had a CD-RW (a CD “burner”), you can burn a CD with your old data and copy it over to the new Mac.
If you have a “newer” old Mac with a FireWire port (or a space to put a FireWire PCI card, around $39 from online Mac resellers), you can connect the old and new Macs through what is called “Target Disk Mode”. In a nutshell, you start the old Mac, connect the old Mac to the new Mac via a FireWire cable, the old Mac’s hard drive shows up on the new Mac’s desktop, and you can transfer any and everything quickly.
Now, what should you move over? No space left this week to cover this fully, but basically, stick to data files. Trying to bring applications over is problematic, and besides, you want to use the new versions – that’s partly why you got the new computer in the first place!
Keep those emails coming to email@example.com, and, as always, Semper Mac! Take care.
© 2003 Peter F. Zimowski