I replaced my trusty MacBook Pro last week, the latest in a series of upgrades stretching back over 25 years. In the past, moving to a new computer is a time-consuming process of installing applications and moving data. But things were different this time: I still had the installs to do, but most of the data migrated on its own.
A Cloud of Data
Like many people, I’ve spent years unconsciously integrating my workflow with cloud applications and services. My email was first, and moving it to Google’s servers pulled my calendar and contacts along as well. This kind of data “wants” to live in the cloud, where it can be accessed on my phone, laptop, desktop, or any web browser I happen to be seated in front of.
Over the last few months, I have begin to use Dropbox to mirror my documents off-site. A clever trick allows this cloud-based repository to keep multiple computers in sync as well, and I recently set it up between my desktop iMac and the old MacBook Pro.
My only portable data set that still doesn’t live in the cloud is the collection of music and movies I like to take with me. The iMac maintains a massive iTunes repository on my Drobo, but I like to take a few thousand songs and a few movies and TV shows on my laptop as well. It seems ironic that this data is so stubbornly local, considering that, for the most part, it purchased and downloaded from a cloud service!
Just after buying my new 2011 13″ MacBook Pro, I sat down in a cafe next to the Apple Store to have a look. I was still in range of the Apple Store guest network, so the laptop was already online. I typed my information into Apple’s Mail, Contacts, and iCal applications and watched as Google re-populated them automatically.
But even I was surprised at the ease of moving the rest of my daily data. I downloaded the Dropbox client and entered my credentials. In moments, my entire Documents folder began filling up, and the astonishingly-quick Apple network made short work of a decade of content. By the time I finished my smoothie, I was up and running.
The ease of this migration is simply amazing: I was up and running quicker than I could have driven home! Google and Dropbox made short work of my “working set” of data, and I could have been literally anywhere on the planet. How times have changed!
Once I returned home, I fired up rsync to pull over the iTunes library and I was ready to retire the old machine. To be on the safe side, I pulled the 640 GB hard disk drive out of the old MacBook pro and installed it in an external enclosure. I’ll replace it with another drive and re-install Mac OS X before handing it down to a family member.