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I have an APFS (case-sensitive, encrypted) Time Machine backup that includes both my internal SSD (APFS) and a much larger APFS volume on an external SSD. The backup containing both is on a slow but very large HDD.

If I would like to set up a new Mac from this backup, will the restore require that I erase the existing Volume on the external SSD, have the drive plugged in during the restore, and have all the data written to the volume again (slowly) from the backup? Or is there a way to restore just the contents of the internal drive, keeping the external drive as-is, and then (after claiming the backups for the new Mac) have the external volume continue to be backed up without interruption in the history? If needed, assume that the external volume's contents have not changed since the time of the backup I'm restoring from.

I've read this answer that explains how to restore the backup of a corrupted external drive to a new external drive by copying files from an APFS snapshot and then associate the new drive with the old drive's backups via terminal. However, I have the opposite problem of wanting to continue using and backing up the same external drive with a new Mac without hiccups.

I'll be able to try things later once I have the new Mac, but wanted to see if anyone knew the answer to this before I attempt. This seems like a scenario that should come up often enough, but information about how all of this works with the APFS backups from newer macOS versions still seems pretty sparse.

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    In most cases, you should be able to restore just the system disk, recovering applications, users, user files and settings using Migration Assistant. Then just reconnect the 2nd SSD. You may need to re-establish and cross disk aliases (and other little messes like that), but otherwise it will be ok. Caveat - if you have moved any complete home folders to the 2nd SSD that will complicate matters.
    – Gilby
    Nov 10, 2023 at 1:57
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    Restoration to new Mac may be less successful if there is big difference in macOS versions between old and new. Also recommend you use a new TM disk with new Mac and carefully preserve the old TM disk.
    – Gilby
    Nov 10, 2023 at 2:09

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