Migration Assistant Problems Title Image

You can’t believe it.

Your migration was supposed to be simple but instead, you’re stuck with a problem.

Luckily for you in this article. You’ll find solutions to many Migration Assistant problems.

Fixes that should work like a charm and get your migration going for you.

Migration Assistant Problem: You’re Waiting A Long Time Over WIFI

You’ve got your new MacBook Pro set up with Setup Assistant. You’ve checked your old machine and your new Mac are on the same WIFI. Your Mac migration has started. And you’ve waited. And waited … nothing’s happened.

Fix: Actually It May Be Happening.

Migrating over WIFI is slow.  Much slower than you might expect.  It’s one of the slowest ways of using Migration Assistant.

Your file and folder migration may just be taking a long time.

You can take a look at this document on the site. It compares the different Migration Assistant migration methods and speeds.

So at least you can calculate how long your file migration should take.

Fix: Use Another Way Of Migrating.

Use another method other than migrating over WIFI. Interference, your own building construction can cause your WIFI to drop out. Even if you have the ideal set up. A fast router, you’ve your old Mac and new Mac next to each other. And right next to your router.

Get yourself a short length of Gb Ethernet cable. Or the right type of USB cable. Thunderbolt 3 or 4. And direct connect your Macs.

Or Migrate from your Time Machine backup on an external drive.

Migration Assistant Problem: Migrating Over Ethernet Or USB And Can’t Find The Source

So, you’ve got your old MacBook Air connected to your new MacBook Pro. An Ethernet cable, or USB connects the two. And when you get to that part of Apple’s Migration Assistant app. Where you should see your MacBook Air as the source. Nothing’s there.

Fix: Check Your Cable And Adaptor Is Up To Spec.

It’s safest to get yourself the Apple Ethernet cable. Yes, it’s a bit pricey but at least you know it’ll work.  And buy a USB Thunderbolt 3 or 4 piece of cable. The normal USB cable that ships with your iPhone. Or iPad is not going to be the right spec USB cable.

Fix: Put Your Old Machine Into Target Disk Mode.

For the wired way of Mac Migration Assistant to work. Your old machine needs to look like a disk drive to your new Mac.

You do that by logging into your old machine. Go to System Preferences, Startup Disk. And clicking the button for Target Disk Mode.

System Preferences Target Disk Mode

Your old machine will reboot.

And when you see it on your new Mac’s desktop like a drive icon.

Then you know your new Mac can see it. And you’re ready to start your data migration. And open up your Migration Assistant tool.

When you get to the Migration assistant screen with your source Mac on it. Click on the icon of your old Mac. And then click Continue.

Do Take a look at this document. It explores the subject of Migration Assistant looking for source.

Click on the link text.

Migration Assistant Problem: Migrating Applications

When you’re going from an old Mac to your brand spanking new MacBook M1. Does Migration Assistant migrate your applications?

You might have Adobe, Microsoft Office and who knows what on your Mac.

Fix: Upgrade And Have Compatible App Versions.

If you’re running an old 32 bit app on your old Mac. Then that application won’t run on your new M1 Mac MacOS. Migration Assistant checks applications for MacOS compatibility. And won’t migrate that app.

If your source Mac isn’t too old and you can get all your apps up to the latest compatible version. Then by all means check that option in Mac Migration Assistant. And have those apps migrate across for you.

Otherwise, let Migration Assistant transfer your user data. The files you use with your apps. Like your MS Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets should all be in your home folder.

And when you migrate all whose will come across to your new Mac.

Then you can download and fresh install your applications.

Migration Assistant Problem: Windows PC Migration Over WIFI Taking A Long Time

You’ve your new M1 MacBook Air and you’re moving off your old Windows 10 running PC. You’ve set up them up on WIFI but it’s taking forever.  Is it happening?

Fix: Transfer Using Ethernet Or USB Cable.

Depending on how much data you’re transferring. The transfer may be happening. But just taking a long time.  WIFI is slow. And you could have WIFI interference and drop out stalling the process.

The best fix when you’ve a lot to migrate and it seems to be taking forever is to get yourself a Gb Ethernet cable. Or a USB Thunderbolt 3 or 4 cable. And connect your new Mac and your old Windows PC together.

Fix: Close Down Your Windows Apps.

Another thing that can cause your Windows Migration Assistant transfer to fail. Is open apps on your Windows machine.

Double check all your Windows apps are closed. Stop your Anti-virus software. Shut down your Firewall.

Having them up and running can stop your migration process.  You can start them backup up again once you’ve successfully migrated.

Migration Assistant Problem: Authentication Failed

When you’ve got your Mac’s connected over WIFI. Or direct connection with Ethernet or a USB cable.

And you get this error message in Migration Assistant when it tries to access your old Mac.

Or when Migration Assistant tries to access your Time Machine backup drive.

It’ll be your new Mac computer triggering the problem.

Fix: Reset Your New Mac’s System Management Controller (SMC).

Your SMC controls several quite low level hardware functions on your Mac. And sometimes a setting just gets stuck on the controller.

Then a reset of this controller is the only way of clearing the problem. Like when Migration Assistant just can’t authenticate your source Mac.

When you don’t know how to do that take a look at the authentication fixes document. The link is just at the end of this section.

Fix: When You’re Migrating From A Time Machine Backup Check your USB.

Double check you’ve a working USB cable and adaptor from your external drive with your backup on it. Try it on another Mac machine. And if you’re sure your USB cables are working.

It’s time for a shutdown and reboot of your new Mac. You need to reset the software that sits on your USB ports.

Eject your external drive. Then completely shutdown MacOS on your new machine. Wait a few seconds before powering on.

Log in. Then plug in the external hard drive. Or SSD drive with your Time Machine backup on it.  Check that the drive icon appears fine on your new Mac’s desktop. It’ll look something like this.

New Drive Icon On Desktop

And then open Migration Assistant and try your data migration again.

Fix: You May Need To Fresh Install Your New Mac.

Sounds drastic. But just occasionally your from the factory MacOS install didn’t go right. Or Setup Assistant didn’t quite do its job. And what you have is some error in MacOS. Or in how your operating system was written on the disk.

You can boot your new Mac to MacOS Recovery mode. And run Disk Utility, First Aid on your internal drive. And see if you have problems there.

When you do. Then you’ll have no choice but to go for a fresh install.  The how to do that is in the authentication failed document here on the site.

You can find details on all the Authentication Failed errors in Migration Assistant.

By clicking on the linked text.

Migration Assistant Problem: Stuck Or Seems Frozen

And it can seem that way. Because you don’t get much feedback on your migration from Migration Assistant. You’re left wondering. Is it frozen and stuck? And I need to restart. Or what.

Fix: Check Your New Mac Is Running The latest Version Of MacOS.

After you’ve completed Setup Assistant and rebooted your new machine. Log in and check for software updates.

You can force this by clicking on the Apple logo. It’s at the top left of your desktop.  Click on the option About this Mac from the Apple menu.

And then click on software updates.  Your Mac will check for any available updates.

Then you can install those. because you never know when an update might fix a migration problem.

Fix: Stuck Or Frozen Migrating Wirelessly.

And this is quite common as WIFI is slow and has issues with wireless dropping out.

When migrating over WIFI is driving you bat crazy. Pick another method. Wired with Ethernet or USB. Or from a Time Machine backup of your old Mac.

Fix: Plug in and out your Ethernet Cable.

This can often reset and restart your migration.  Assuming you have put your old Mac into Target Disk Mode. You’ll need to do that first for your Ethernet migration to work.

You’ll find a whole article on this site all about when Migration Assistant gets stuck or frozen.

Click on the linked text.

In Closing

Migration Assistant is a great tool for moving your user data from your Mac. Or Windows PC to a new Mac. And it can save you tons of time.

But when you get problems. It can be irritating to not understand the cause. Hopefully this article has helped to shed light on what could be causing your errors and how to fix them.

Take a look at our other Migration Assistant related articles while you’re here.

Related Articles

Migration Assistant Not Working From Time Machine [Help]

Can Migration Assistant Transfer Individual Applications

Does Migration Assistant Transfer Photos? Yes! But Is It Easy

Other Resources

How to reset the SMC of your Mac

Mac computers with Apple silicon M1