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 Mac transfer problems.
Fixes that should work like a charm and get your migration problems solved.
Apple Migration Assistant Problems
Here’s a list of the possible Mac Migration Assistant problems and fixes for you.
1. You’re Waiting A Long Time Over WIFI, But Your Migration May Be Happening.
Apple Migration Assistant over WIFI is slow. Much slower than you might expect. It’s one of the slowest ways of using Migration Assistant.
When you’ve got your new MacBook Pro set up with Setup Assistant. And you’ve checked your old computer and your new Mac are on the same WIFI.
Your Mac migration has started. And you’ve waited. And waited … nothing’s happened.
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 then you can calculate how long your file migration should take.
2. Use Another Way Of Migrating Rather Than WIFI.
Use Migration Assistant a different way other than migrating over WIFI.
Interference from your own building construction can cause your WIFI to drop out.
Even if you have the ideal set up which is: A fast router and you have your old Mac and new Mac next to each other. And right next to your router. You can have problems.
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 a Time Machine backup on an external drive – hard drive or SSD.
3. Migrating Over Ethernet Or USB And Can’t Find The Source: Check Your Cable Is Up To Spec.
Mac transfer over Ethernet?
Get yourself the right specification cable for your migration process.
When you’ve got your old MacBook Air connected to your new MacBook Pro. And USB or Ethernet connects the two.
Then you get to that part of Apple’s Migration Assistant app. Where you should see your MacBook Air as the source. Nothing’s there …
You’ll find it’s safest to get yourself the Apple Ethernet cable. Yes, it’s a bit pricey but at least you know it’ll work.
Because it’s not going to be the right spec USB cable.
Buy a USB Thunderbolt 3 or 4 cable.
4. USB Or Ethernet Migration: 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.
Your old machine will reboot.
And when you’ll 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.
5. When Migrating Applications: 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 Mac or M1 Mac’s operating system.
Migration Assistant checks applications for Mac OS x 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 account and user data. The files you use with your apps. Like your Microsoft Office’s 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.
6. Windows PC Migration Over WIFI Taking A Long Time: Transfer Using Ethernet Or USB Cable.
You’ve your new M1 MacBook Air and you’re moving off your old PC running Microsoft Windows.
You’ve downloaded Windows Migration Assistant from the App Store. And set both computers up on WIFI. but it’s taking forever. Is the transfer to Mac happening?
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 PC together.
7. Windows Data Transfer Problem: Close Down Your Windows Apps.
Another thing that can cause your Windows Migration Assistant transfer problems. Are open apps on your Windows PC.
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.
8. Authentication Failed: 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.
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.
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.
9. Problems Migrating From A Time Machine Backup: Check Your USB.
Double check you have a working USB cable and adaptor from your external drive with your backup on it.
Try your USB cable on another Mac computer. And if you’re sure your USB cable is 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.
And then open Migration Assistant and try your data transfer again.
10. You May Need To Fresh Install Your New Mac.
Sounds drastic. But just occasionally your from the factory Mac OS x install didn’t go right.
Or Setup Assistant didn’t quite do its job.
And what you have is some problem in MacOS. Or in how your operating system was written on the disk.
You can boot your new computer into MacOS Recovery mode. And run Disk Utility, First Aid on your internal drive. And see if you have problems there.
If you do find problems. 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.
11. You May Need Update The MacOS On Your Old Mac.
To save yourself issues – particularly if your source Mac computer is running MacOS El Capitan or earlier.
Get your old Mac up to the latest operating system release you can.
12. Migration Assistant Seems Stuck Or Frozen: Check Your New Mac Is Running The Latest Version Of MacOS.
And it can seem stuck. 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.
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.
13. 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.
14. Stuck Or Frozen Over Ethernet Or USB: Plug In And Out Your 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 or USB migration to work.
Migration Assistant is a great tool for moving your user data from a 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.
About Paul Gregory
I’ve been a system administrator for various corporates for 15 years. And as admin I’ve helped many with their Mac’s and there many Apple devices.
I’m excited by watching users, armed with a little knowledge take control of their Mac’s and their files. And why not?
When I’m not at work or working on the site I like to chill with few beers. And watch a bit of car racing. From Formula 1 to stock car racing. The competition is my thing.