Minimize the apple tax! need help migrating to new Mac w/ smaller internal SSD. (migrate apps to external ssd)

Can’t seem to find an answer to this one.

I’m looking to upgrade from my current 2012 mac mini (i7, 16gb, 500gb ssd) to a 18 mini (i7, 32gb, but with 256gb or even 128gb, but add a usb-c external 1TB SSD to house apps vms, etc…).

For data storage this is attached to a usb 3 SAN HDD (2x6TB WD mybook duo). The internal SSD is mainly for apps and my VM parallels files.

I’d like to use migration assistant or CCC to transfer the data but the new internal drive won’t have enough room. I would prefer not to nuke and pave if possible. Any help appreciated!

Well your 2018 Mini will come nuked and paved for you, so the first part is done :slight_smile: . Putting the data back where it belongs is always the easy part of that process – the hard part is getting apps, scripts, preferences etc. in place but it sounds like your plan is to put these on the built-in drive anyway… Can CCC or Migration Assistant (long time since I’ve used either…) just restore everything but your data directories? Presumably you’re going to be symlinking directories off the Mini to the external SSD right? I’d just boot up the 2018 Mini, set up the symlinks, then restore the data from a backup, relying on the symlinks to move stuff to the external drive where necessary.

Here are my notes on a similar process - the whole thread may be helpful:

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Thanks for the info Dave just read over the whole post you linked to. I definetly want to keep the OS on the internal boot drive as I think it just keeps things cleaner that way. I’m thinking i can just try copying some of the .app files to my current external usb HDD and see if works. (i would image most will but some like adobe products and others might be more tricky). If i can successfully move over a good chunk of the apps (parallels vm moves easy) so that the current internal drive is 256g or less i can just copy and clone it to the new drive. I’ve already moved my photos and itunes libary externally and luckily i keep 90% of my ‘data’ on the Dual drive SAN (raid 1, mirrored) so none of the data will have to move.

This article might be helpful as well. You can put your user home folder on an external drive.
I would think you would be able to move apps from /Applications to yourhome/Applications without any issues, but don’t have supporting evidence.
Either way, this would allow you to put all your music, pictures, etc. on the external.

This all really depends on where your data is stored.

If you put your home directory on the external SSD, will that solve the problem?

If so, here’s what I would recommend:

  1. Setup your new Mac with your usual login account. Let it create your home directory “/Users/whatever”.

  2. Create a second admin user on your Mac whose home directory will stay on the internal drive (you’ll want this as a safety net in case the external drive dies).

  3. Log in to the 2nd account. Remove the “/Users/whatever” folder created in step 1 and replace it with a link to “/Volumes/ExternalDriveNameHere/Users/whatever”

  4. Run migration assistant and hope that it respects the link you made in step 3.

  5. If step #4 works, you still need to make sure that the external drive will be mounted before you log in. This command is supposed to accomplish that, but I have not tested it so I cannot guarantee it.

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/autodiskmount \
AutomountDisksWithoutUserLogin -bool true

If that doesn’t work, then your best bet is probably to give up on the idea of using Migration Assistant and just copy your old home directory to your external drive.

Truthfully, I have to say that I give this fairly low odds of working, and if I was in this situation I would probably rather just spend the time doing a clean install from the get-go because I know it would work, rather than potentially waste a lot of time trying to avoid it. But it’s your time and your choice!

P.s. You can definitely install apps in ~/Applications/ although apps that get installed from the Mac App Store or from .pkg files will still go to /Applications/. Oh, and some apps will complain about not being in /Applications/ and ask if you want them to move themselves there, even if they are in ~/Applications/ (because they are trying to “help” and suspect that you might be running them from ~/Downloads/ rather than /Applications/).

Oops, forgot the link.

Thank you, never thought about moving the home folder. I’m thinking of keeping the home folder on the root drive as not to disrupt anything. I’m wondering if i can use migration assistant and choose which apps go where (ie to the root drive and which go the external ssd)