The Best Cable is the One You Have

In the age of smartphones with great cameras, we often hear “The best camera is the one you have with you.” I think there’s a parallel for data transfer: “The best cable is the one you have.” Or, the extended version: “The best cable is the one you have, so that you don’t have to order another from Amazon or Monoprice.” Here’s the scenario where this occurred to me.

My test machine is an iMac (24-inch, Early 2008) with a 480GB SSD, which I installed several years ago to extend its useful life. Sierra doesn’t support it. I needed to replace it before WWDC brings us macOS 10.13, when I’ll have to install Sierra and probably 10.13 on my test machine.

The replacement is a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013). I also have Boot Camp on this machine for testing TextExpander for Windows.

In an ideal world, I would:

  1. Put the MacBook Pro into Target Disk Mode
  2. Connect the MacBook Pro to the iMac
  3. Mount empty volumes from the MacBook Pro on the iMac
  4. Copy volumes from the iMac to the MacBook Pro
  5. There is no step 5

Unfortunately, step 2 requires a Thunderbolt 2 to Firewire adapter, and I don’t have one of those. This led me to examine which, if any, adapters I did have. I found a Thunderbolt 2 to Gigabit Ethernet adapter. That was promising. If I had a crossover cable, I’d be able to connect the two machines directly. I checked briefly and realized I had permanently lent my crossover cable some years ago.

In order to connect my iMac and MacBook Pro via Ethernet, I’d need a switch. I checked my closet, and I found an old NetGear 8-Port Gigabit Ethernet Switch among Smile’s Macworld supplies (I did mention it was old, right?).

NetGear GS608 Gigabit Ethernet Switch to Connect Your Cable

My go-to cloning software, SuperDuper from Shirt Pocket doesn’t appear to support cloning to a remote volume. This led me to recall Carbon Copy Cloner and give it a fresh look.

Carbon Copy Cloner has come a LONG way from the last time I used it many years ago. Hats off to Bombich Software for a throughly evolved, fantastically capable product. Carbon Copy Cloner includes support for cloning to a “Remote Macintosh”. This involves creating a small installer, copying that to the remote machine, running it, then enabling Remote Login. The process was easy as could be. The software looks great and was very easy to use. Anyone thinking of producing indie software for macOS should consider Bombich Software a role model.

When I finished copying my Mavericks, Yosemite, and El Capitan test volumes, I immediately paid my $39 for Carbon Copy Cloner. I may not use it again any time soon, but it saved me the cost of an additional cable, and it allowed me to do what I needed immediately. I sell software for a living, so I’m quite sensitive to paying folks for software which performs a necessary task for me or saves me a good chunk of time. In this case, Carbon Copy Cloner, did both. Thanks!