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I am running Migration Assistant (over a network) to transfer an old Mac's setup to a new one. The process starts fine, but every time I try it the target computer freezes mid-transfer (at the moment the source computer has shown '9 hours 34 minutes' remaining for the transfer for hours). The target computer's screen is black, and it does not respond to keyboard or mouse input, but I can tell it's on from the fan whir. It does not respond when I press the power button as it would were it asleep or off. I have to hold this down to force it to shut down. I've restarted the whole process several times - what should I do?

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I am assuming you mean the source mac (with the old data) is freezing in target mode and not the new mac (destination) is freezing. Some people say the target of the transfer is the new mac. –  bmike Jul 22 '11 at 14:09
    
No, actually the new Mac is the one that freezes - that's what I mean by the target Mac. –  tog22 Jul 22 '11 at 14:34
    
Argh - you were precice and I mis-interpreted. Time for a major edit of my "barking up the wrong tree" answer. Would you list the versions of the OS on both? 10.6.8 has a recent Migration Assistant update that makes transfers to Lion better. –  bmike Jul 22 '11 at 14:42
    
Thanks @bmike - 10.4.11 on the source Mac and 10.6.7 on the target Mac –  tog22 Jul 26 '11 at 10:15
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2 Answers

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Since this has failed more than once, it's likely you'll have to effect some repair or change tactics.

Here are a few that seem likely - you'll have to choose based on your specific situation:

  1. Migrate from a backup copy of the data instead of the old source mac.
  2. Remove the hard drive from the old mac and try again. This isolates the drive and your files from the mac and the controller board / cable.
  3. Look over the failed logs (should be in /Library/Logs/SystemMigration.log) - you might see it hanging on the same step. If so - you could try deleting that data (or you could just delete as much of the data as you can afford to not transfer - especially if some of that data is stored elsewhere on a backup drive)
  4. Run a repair or check tool on the source mac while it's in target mode. Disk Utility is one tool that could be used to verify the status of the files and disk.

Do note, that one possible cause of the freezing could be hard drive failure. If that's the cause, you want to get the important files off first and avoid 'fixing' anything. (Imagine a potential house on fire - you may not have time for everything, so prioritize and just get things out now - organize them later.)

All the other causes are not as dire and you may have time to try things again and again, just wanted to plant the idea that this might be a warning so you could get professional help if there are valuable or irreplaceable files on the freezing computer.

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Thanks. The log on the source mac always ends at 'Launching tool /usr/sbin/setkey', and the log on the target mac always ends with a reference to /usr/sbin/setkey followed by one to restoring the time machine backup. I'll go through your suggestions, and reckon I'll try and find a firewire cable to see if it's the network connection being lost. –  tog22 Jul 22 '11 at 14:33
    
Yowsers. Using a straight ethernet cable or firewire might help. I sure hope so, but that's a rare failure from my experience. Can you tell how far it got? Is it before anything transfers or at the end of the process when it's converting the old machine settings to the new machine's settings? (if it's at the end - skipping the system settings might avoid IPsec migration routines..) –  bmike Jul 22 '11 at 14:45
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I'm having difficulty finding a cable (don't want to buy one just for this) so am somewhat delayed on this. But I have found the source Mac's disk needs repair according to Disk Utility (something about a bad HFS node tree) so I shall try that. I wish I could vote your answer up but alas lack the rep - I'll certainly accept it when I'm done with this process. –  tog22 Jul 26 '11 at 10:17
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The other thing you could try is isolating what is freezing - only do one user at a time, then the apps, then whatever else. At some point, it will be easier to move things by hand or get help from a shop with experience in repair / problem transfers. Do let us know if you figure it out - might be interesting! –  bmike Jul 26 '11 at 17:53
    
Update for anyone interested: the repair with Disk Utility didn't help. I just transferred manually as you suggested. –  tog22 Feb 7 '12 at 11:55
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Transfering over Ethernet and a local area network is always problematic. Use Target Disk Mode over FireWire to directly connect one Mac to the other, and you will probably have much better results.

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