I love upgrading to a new machine but the thought of loosing files in the process makes me feel quite ill so my preferred method is to keep absolutely everything in case I need it or at least until I have time to go through it. The simplest way for me is to create a clone of the system drive and place it on my new system. With a Windows machine you need to do this under a different OS (e.g. from an Ubuntu dual boot) but with a mac you can use a program to do it for you from within OsX.
NB: You will need a destination for the resulting disk image file that is at least as large as the used space on your old drive, and in some cases double the size (e.g. if compressing). The final file will not be this big but the process requires extra space.
Use a disk cloning application to copy your old system's hard drive entirely to the new system via a direct cable connection (firewire or ethernet). I am using an old OSx 10 machine and a new OsX Lion. Alternatively you could use an external drive or network share.
- Connect the two machines together directly: This is arguably best achieved by a Firewire cable but I didn't have a suitable one for both machines so I used a standard ethernet (Cat5) cable. A crossover cable is not necessary for Macs newer than about 2000.
- Ensure you have File Sharing enabled on the destination (new) machine: System Preferences, Sharing, tick File Sharing. Ensure your username is listed as allowed. Note the machine name at the top. Check the connection works by browsing to your new machine from the old one in Finder, Network locations.
- Install a disk clone application on both machines. I used Carbon Copy Cloner Please note this is not freeware but donation-ware i.e. if you use it and like it then please donate some funds to the developer: it will help him continue to develop the application so when you next migrate his excellent program will still be around.
- On the old machine, use the CCC Disk Center (under Window on the menu) to check the size of your hard disk (Volume usage). Then on the new system use the same window to check you have sufficient space: you may need up to twice the used space on the old drive depending on the type of image you'll create.
- On the old machine in CCC Cloning Console select Destination: New disk image, then select your destination (new) machine and your user folder, logging in if necessary. You need to also choose the type e.g. read and write, read only or read only compressed. I chose read only compressed.
- Click Clone, and the system will create the image on the other (newer) machine. Mine took about 2.5hrs for 115GB.
- To access it you open your user folder then double click the file and it will be mounted on the desktop as a drive.