Best practice for setting up new Mac mini


I picked up an open box M1 Mac mini from Microcenter yesterday
I currently have a 2018 Mac mini
I’m writing to solicit advice on the best way to setup the new M1

I see my options as the following:

  1. Migration assistant using a TB3 cable connecting the old mini to the new mini
  2. Migration assistant using an external Carbon Copy Clone of the old mini to the new mini via USB-C port
  3. Setup the new mini as new and then go about re-downloading software, apps, re-authenticating accounts, etc.

My mini serves as my Plex server, camera server (using the awesome SecuritySpy Mac DVR software), etc.
So, I’m not sure if all my settings for these servers will transfer over with Migration Assistant or if I’ll run into issues

In terms of MA, would there be a difference migrating mini to mini via TB3 vs. my CCC clone?
Also, regardless of which method I end up using, should I first set the mini up as new, run software update until no more updates are available and then run MA? Wondering if making sure that the old mini and new mini are running the exact same version of Big Sur is important before running MA?

What do you all think? TIA

I set up my new M1 as a new machine and reinstalled everything. I didn’t want any old files to cause issues with the new architecture.


I did exactly as @Rob_Polding did for the same reasons. Takes longer but worth it to me.

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Same here, new architecture, new install…
I kept the cruft in Intel territory

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If there was ever a time for a clean install, an architecture transition seems like the right time.

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I set up my new Mac Mini from scratch (for all the reasons listed above). It took a bit of extra time, but it runs like a dream!

I used Migration Assistant. As the old tv ad used to say…set it and forget it. There were some initial hiccups in the 1st few days of M/Mac Sur release, but most were because of Apple server issues. BEWARE of CCC (or other attempted sync from previous MacOS 3rd party backups). Mac Sur has disrupted all previous backup/sync/boot options. YMMV.

Thanks for all the help and suggestions

I ended up doing a clean install rather than migration

Yes, it was more time consuming, but I think I liked the idea of not bringing over years and years of accumulated code and junk

Had no issues with my Plex server using their instructions on how to move the server to a new computer

Interestingly, the only issue I had was that the first open box mini I had bought from Microcenter was activation locked (guess the previous owner didn’t restore it correctly)

Luckily, Microcenter had another open box (exact same config, exact same price), so I returned the locked one and picked up the other one and that one was, thankfully, not locked (and it had an extra two weeks of warranty compared to the first one)