My old iMac died -- hard drive is on the fritz -- and the system is mostly unusable.

I just received my new iMac and would like to know the proper way to migrate my files from the old iMac to the new one:

  1. Should I create a new Apple ID / login username or use the old?
  2. Given that the old iMac is unusable, what is the best method for transferring my files to the new iMac? I assume iCloud would be best in this scenario since Migration Assistant requires the old system to be operational. FYI, I did not have Time Machine backing up to an external drive.


  • when i did mine i booted in target mode and copied all the stuff over. just copied what i wanted to get a clean start. Are you able to boot up? as mentioned, use your current apple id
    – Stumped
    Sep 29, 2020 at 18:29

1 Answer 1


You want to use the same AppleID as before as both all your purchases and your iCloud Drive is linked to it. So once you've set the Mac up and added your AppleID credentials the content of your iCloud Drive should sync to your Mac (patience may be required, depending on your connection and the load on Apple's servers).

  • Great advice. And once Jeff gets signed in, he can see if the old Mac can boot in target disk mode or he wants to pay for data recovery to transfer the data to an external drive. Migration Assistant can run later once the drive is available. The only thing I would change is start backing up the new Mac now. Get an external drive and let Time Machine roll so at least backups start now.
    – bmike
    Sep 29, 2020 at 14:47
  • Why would I need to use Migration Assistant if I'm already recovering all of my data from iCloud? I do not anticipate the old drive ever becoming available again.
    – Jeff
    Sep 29, 2020 at 14:49
  • 1
    if you use migration Assistant, it will copy over your bookmarks, your contacts, and your passwords for other servers or accounts. I got my new iMac about a week ago. I originally just copied the data over then I spent a day trying to set passwords and changing some. I decided on day 3 to use Migration Assistant and then my iMac was set up like my older iMac,
    – Natsfan
    Sep 29, 2020 at 15:37
  • 1
    Used the same Apple ID to setup my new iMac -- everything migrated perfectly through iCloud.
    – Jeff
    Sep 29, 2020 at 20:54
  • As long as you store the important data in iCloud, you don’t need to migrate anything. Better to start with cloud if there’s a chance it has enough @Jeff
    – bmike
    Sep 29, 2020 at 21:30

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