Coolest OS X app ever?

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So my mom’s iBook started dying on her this weekend. It was bound to happen. She’s had it for years, and it’s been across the country at least once and has done heavy daily duty month after month after month at the hands of a tech novice. It’s not an easy life for a computer.

But it held up well. Then, suddenly (ain’t it always thus?), the screen went out and the pointer stopped responding. Multiple reboots and all sorts of other troubleshooting voodoo wouldn’t bring it around, so I restarted in FireWire Target Disk Mode and connected her iBook to my iBook. I copied her user directory to a backup directory on my server and then prepared to get all her settings imported into an account on my machine so she could send e-mail and browse the Web until her new computer arrives.

Out of habit, I posted on the matter to the Mac forum on ISCABBS. One of the regulars there mentioned Migration Assistant, a Tiger app I’d never heard of. But what a lifesaver it is! I reconnected the two iBooks via FireWire and then opened Migration Assistant on my machine. It prompted me for a source location of the settings and documents I wanted to import, and after I specified my mom’s user directory on her machine, it did the rest.

I was astounded by the detail of the backup. No, it’s more aptly called a cloning. Switching to her user on my iBook now brings up the exact same environment she had on her machine, from the rotating desktop pattern to the alternate mail server settings in Mail.app to the stupid robotic voice she has reading the time to her every 30 minutes. Just amazing. And this is a migration from Panther to Tiger, too, so she’s now updated to new versions of Mail and Safari that include all the settings from her old apps. Best part is, when she gets her new iBook, I’ll simply repeat this process and migrate all her settings over to the new machine. Genius.

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