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If I have a user with a local profile on their mac and they want to migrate all the data to a network based account (OS X Lion server), what's the best way to do this?

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Why wouldn't you use the Migration Assistant to move users?

It's wicked fast over gigabit ethernet, knows what preference files are needed and can handle special cases better than rsync or other simple file copy methods.

Once the user is there, you can delete it (preserving the home folder) and then re-create the user with the proper server UID / home folder location or just edit these in the directory service where user data is stored.

It really depends more on how you want your server set up than just getting the files. Some setups it's easier to move first and fix later - others you should just set up the new account and let users move their files by hand once they have logged into their new accounts.

I would probably set up the server account for the user and once you have created the Home records in Workgroup Manager you can copy the files from a backup or the old client machine (paying attention to ownership by moving the contents of the home folder directories and resetting permissions to match the server UID/GID) before binding the client machine to the server accounts.

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I didn't know if migration assistant would work in this instance. Thanks! –  Bradley Chambers Oct 6 '11 at 14:50
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Just tried it to make sure it worked on the latest Lion. You will get a warning in Server that the new user isn't configured for services, but there is a "Fix..." button right next to the warning for that... –  bmike Oct 6 '11 at 15:03
    
I like this idea, but could use some insights on how to achieve this. I'm not sure "how" to use migration assistant to do this. I'd like to migrate to a network account but continue to use the same physical computer. –  Chase Florell Jan 6 '12 at 0:02
    
The simplest way is to make sure the user is backed up to Time Machine and delete the local user, then set up the server user with the same short name (or different) and copy the user folder over to the network home. –  bmike Jan 6 '12 at 1:26
    
So I'll restore the user from time machine over to the server? Then when I log in from the laptop, the server will push the user over to the lappy. is that right? –  Chase Florell Jan 6 '12 at 4:42

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