Migration Assistant, showing only one Time Machine backup

My Mountain Lion iMac was affected by the Seagate disk recall. I backed up to my trusty Time Capsule (as per norm) before the disk replacement, planning to restore from said Time Capsule. However, when it came to this stage, instead of finding two backups available (the TC is also used by a laptop), the Migration Assistant showed not two, but only one backup, furthermore it was the backup for the laptop. My heart sank for a minute.

Thankfully the TC has two distinct sparsebundles on it, one of which is the iMac's backup, but for some unknown reason it is not being volunteered by the Migration Assistant.

My plan B is to retrieve the needed files from the desired sparsebundle, but would prefer to retrieve all my files, settings and system settings in one elegant hit.

Can anyone advise?

Both sparsebundles available on the Time Capsule

3 Answers 3


See this answer: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/75892/27953

You need to use the associatedisk subcommand of tmutil, so Time Machine associates the backups with your new disk.


The answer was disappointingly straightforward. The backup that would not restore via the Migration Assistant was not a complete backup. This is the top level contents of the sparsebundle that was offered.

screenshot hilighting missing folders

Shown in red are folders that were (deliberately) omitted from the the sparsebundle that I needed, from which Migration Assistant would not offer to restore.

The precursor to Migration Assistant, Setup Assistant was good enough to point this difference out. Migration Assistant however was very tight-lipped on the subject.

So instead I recreate the accounts I need, copy the files across (with tar, I'm old school like that) and reinstall the Applications I need.


It seems you're familiar with Terminal/the shell; some commands to get you started:

ls /Volumes/*/Backups.backupdb/*

sudo tmutil listbackups

For more info, see the manpage for tmutil, and Pondini's Time Machine Tips, which include a kickass answer to How to Repair Time Machine Backups on a Time Capsule!

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