Time Machine vs. Migration Assistant

donemax editorMaria updated on Feb 22, 2023 to Mac Disk Clone Solution

Is your old MacBook no longer meeting your needs? There are a few signs that it's time for an upgrade: slower performance or a battery that won't stay charged.

It's good to ensure you've copied all your essential documents, programs, settings, and accounts before giving up your old computer. It is possible to migrate information from an older MacBook or a Time Machine backup to a newer MacBook using the built-in Migration Assistant tool. Let's start setting up your new MacBook using all your current information and preferences.

What is Time Machine:

Time Machine backups Macs. It creates a compressed "image" or "snapshot" of your Mac that you can restore anytime. Time Machine backups may boot new devices and refresh Macs after resetting.

Time Machine automatically backups up your Mac. It regularly backs up your Mac, preserving the last several versions you need to restore from a few weeks ago.

Time Machine boots most new Macs. New Macs ask to start fresh or boot from a backup. Time Machine backups help you resume where you left off. System Preferences and a Mac app house Time Machine, like most Apple services.

What is Migration Assistant:

Apple's Migration Assistant is an indispensable tool for moving data and accounts from one computer to another, whether that computer is a Mac, Windows PC, complete disk backup, or a brand new Mac connected through Thunderbolt. It can be used during the first steps of setting up a brand-new Mac or run independently at any time.

Launchpad > Other > Migration Assistant will lead you to the program.

Time Machine vs. Migration Assistant

Transfer files using Migration Assistant:

Using Migration Assistant, here's how to get your files onto your new Mac:

Step 1: On your new Mac

Select Go from the Finder menu.

Click the Utility section.

Start the Migration Assistant.

Press the Next button.

If you have an account on a Mac, log in to it now. Your Mac will immediately close off all currently running programs.

You must decide whether to copy everything from a Mac, a Time Machine backup, or the computer's starting drive.

Press the Continue button.

Step 2: On your old Mac

Time Machine vs. Migration Assistant

In your Mac's menu, select Go.

Click the Utility tab.

Start the Migration Assistant.

Press the Continue button.

If you have an account on a Mac, log in to it now. Your Mac will immediately close off all currently running programs.

To move to another Mac, click the corresponding button.

Press the Continue button.

Step 3: On your new Mac

When prompted to choose between a Mac, a Time Machine backup, and another startup disk, choose the other Mac option.

Press the Continue button.

Step 4: On your old Mac

Ensure the security code displayed on your previous Mac is the same as that on your current Mac.

Press the Continue button.

Step 5: On your new Mac

Pick out the data you want to send.

Press the Continue button.

Different from what does Time Machine does?

Regarding protecting your Mac, Time Machine is the way to go. Apple includes it as part of your Mac OS installation, much like the Migration Assistant.

To maintain the safety of your information, you could utilize Time Machine. With the help of a backup, a copy of your files is stored somewhere other than on your Mac.

It's also possible to restore files using Time Machine. To top it all off, you're not limited in how much data can be restored. A single file, a collection of files, or a set of directories.

And in the time in between backups, it will take snapshots of the changes you've made to your Mac. You will be able to view 24-hour pictures. Assuming there is enough storage space on your Mac's hard drive.

The Migration Assistant is not a backup program, and Apple does not include it in its products. Time Machine is a backup program. Many Mac users prefer Time Machine for routine backups. They also use backup software like Carbon Copy Cloner or Donemax Disk Clone to create bootable full copies of their Macs on a separate external disk.

Time Machine vs. Migration Assistant

How to Restrict Time Machine's Backup Disk Size?

Time Machine can free up storage by deleting old backups, but it would rather use all available space on the disk before doing so. Creating a set partition on the drive and designating it as a backup disk is one technique to prevent the Time Machine from taking over the entire disk if multiple programs use it at once.


You may now differentiate between Time Machine and Migration Assistant. If you want to back up your Mac, use Time Machine. And use that backup to bring your files and folders back to their previous state.

In contrast, a migration migrates. The program can transfer data across Macs. And you'd employ it to assemble a new Mac from the data of an old one.

You also can use a disk cloning application to create a bootable clone for your Mac, then you can use the backup to restore macOS or data on your new Mac. Donemax Disk Clone for Mac is a powerful disk cloning application and it is able to help you clone data, migrate data, upgrade your Mac to SSD, etc.

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Contributing Writer

Maria is one of the senior writers & editors of Donemax who lives and works in Sydney, Australia. She loves PC, Mac and Internet Technology. She has 6 years of writing articles about data recovery on PC/Mac, disk cloning solution, data eraser and computer OS optimization, etc. She is also interested in testing various software and digital products.