I'm trying to move my files, applications, and system preferences from a Early 2015 Macbook Pro to a 2019 MBP. Here are the steps I followed:

  1. Got an external hard drive and used it for Time Machine backup of my old Mac. The total backup was close to 105 GB.
  2. Booted up the new Mac, created my user account on it with the same name.
  3. Connected the drive to new Mac, Opened "Migration Assistant" on it, and selected Time Machine Backup as the option.
  4. On the screen where it asks select the data you want to transfer, All the checkboxes were selected by default, so I did not wait for "Estimating File Size", and just clicked on Next.

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  1. I chose to replace the existing user on the New Mac, whilst not keeping any files from it.

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  1. Hit Continue and let the process start. I first got a few screens such as "Preparing to transfer user accounts", and then said "Looking for applications and documents to transfer (n items processed)"

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  1. I left it idle for some time, and when I checked next, it had gone to "Transferring documents" screen, with an ETA of 18 hours 45 minutes. However, with every passing second, the ETA is increasing. It has been an hour since I recorded 18 hours, and it is now at "57 hours 42 minutes remaining" (and counting).

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Also, the progress bar has not moved significantly. I can barely make out any movement.

Is this by any means normal? Should I leave it overnight, knowing that the ETA is not coming down, rather climbing? Or should I cancel it while I can?

I read in a few places that choosing to overwrite existing user account causes this, and advised to create a new user. But there was not enough validation on that post.

  • If the option to delete the old user account does a secure erase then that is most likely what is taking so long. Secure erase overwrites the old data a number of times with zeros and other data. If you can cancel it I would be tempted to do so. Then delete that account manually and then restore from Time Machine. That is my guess and recommended course of action. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 20:09
  • Thanks for your input. However, I feel this is unlikely, because the creation of new user account (step 6.a.) happened rather fast. It is the transfer of documents which is taking long.
    – Aldo
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 20:15
  • Ah but the question remains once it created the account, what it is doing with the data that was in the old account. It's still there and still needs to be deleted. 105 GB should take maybe an hour over USB 3. There is either a failure in your drive somewhere or your Mac is doing something else before restoring the data. It can't possibly hurt to let it go overnight, just make a note of the time estimated that is remaining before you go to bed so you can see if it went down overnight. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 20:30

1 Answer 1


macOS progress and completion estimates are often based on the number of bytes transferred. But one large file will usually transfer much faster than many small files even if they add up to the same size. What may be happening here is that the transfer started with some large files, went quickly, and resulted in an optimistic estimate. But now it is into small files which take longer and so the estimate is growing.

The estimate and speed can also be affected by the type of storage, whether the migration assistant is trying to do other tasks at the same time, whether FileVault is enabled, the type of connection for the backup volume, etc. All of those factors can magnify the differences in file sizes as well as cause variability on their own.

Make sure both the backup volume and the new MacBook are plugged into their respective power supplies and give it some time. The worst case scenario is a hardware problem with either the backup or the MacBook, but give it a few more hours before jumping to that conclusion.

  • Thanks. This is what it was. I left it overnight and came back to it around 8 hours later and saw the migration had completed. I'm typing this from my new Mac. 😊 I'll mark this as accepted and close the topic.
    – Aldo
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 6:35
  • thanks @Aldo for confirming that it worked out, my new MBP is at 283 hours still counting up so there is some hope for me
    – Christian
    Commented Sep 26, 2019 at 8:49

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