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Ask Max: Cloning a new MacBook Pro to an external hard drive

Asked on 01/26/2009:

The new MacBooks and MacBook Pros do not have FireWire ports anymore. Looks like Apple is abandoning FireWire on new Laptops.

How can I clone one of these new Mac laptops to an external drive and make the drive bootable so it can boot up and be used to clone back to the laptop drive if needed?






Only the new Unibody MacBooks have had a FireWire port omitted from the design. The new MacBook Pros have a FireWire 800 port that supports FireWire 400 via an adapter. The MacBook Pro can be booted into Target Disk Mode, just as with previous models. However, the MacBook's lack of FireWire signals a shift in how Apple expects Macs to migrate, post-Leopard. Time Machine is the new migration and backup tool of choice. Fresh Leopard installs let you restore from a Time Machine backup, regardless of what system that backup was created from. So assuming you have a system that you have been backing up with Time Machine, you just connect your new Mac to the USB Time Machine drive, migrate, and you are running again.

Another consideration is that most modern Macs have Gigabit Ethernet. Two Macs connected via a Gigabit network can transfer data faster than two Macs connected via FireWire 800. I think we will start to see more Ethernet-based solutions from Apple as Gigabit becomes the modern standard.

There are a few technical reasons why you would want to install and then Migrate 10.5, apposed to just cloning, but you can still use the cloning method. All Intel Macs support USB 2.0 booting so you can just start cloning to a USB hard drive instead of a FireWire one. It should be procedurally the same.




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