View Full Version : Cloning iMac to Powerbook

05-06-2005, 09:22 PM
I use a G5 iMac as my main computer, most of the year. I use a powerbook g4 Titanium for half the year.

Here is what I'd like to do, and wonder if it will work.

There is currently nothing on the powerbook that is not on the iMac. There are things on the iMac that are not on the powerbook. I have about 30gb of files and stuff on the iMac and a 60gb drive in the powerbook, so there should be plenty of room on it. Presently I manually copy stuff I need over to the powerbook from time to time to sync them (such as delete all stored mail in Mail and then import my mail file from the iMac and copy over documents folder).

What I would like to do, before leaving for my annual 6 months in Africa is connect the two macs (either by firewire or ?, that is part of the question). Use SuperDuper to copy/clone the entire iMac to the Powerbook, overwriting the files on the powerbook with the OS and files on the iMac. Would I just erase and copy or make a disk image and restore?

Will it work? Can I do it in reverse when I return from Africa as I will then have things on the powerbook that need to be on the iMac? Will I need to reinstall any software or enter any product codes (Dreamweaver, MS Office, etc., Mailboxes, etc)? I'm using OS X (10.3.9) on both macs now.

I routinely backup the entire iMac drive to an external firewire drive and when I boot from that things seem to work but was not sure if it would work with the powerbook. I haven't tested all apps from there so not 100% sure it "works" that way.

Is there some other strategy that would be better?

Step by step help would be much appreciated, while I am technically proficient, I'd rather not learn from mistakes if I can help it.


05-06-2005, 09:51 PM
Hi, Peg. I've heard about your situation before, and since it sounds awfully familiar, I think it must have been from a consultant who was asking on your behalf.

In general, for this situation, I think I'd recommend copying from the iMac to the Powerbook one time, but then migrating to a .mac solution for both Mail and the files you want to share.

For Mail, .Mac uses IMAP, which actually stores the mail on the server, including mail you place in folders. This mail is automatically synchronized between as many machines as you'd like, so when you move a message it moves everywhere. It's an excellent way to go, and it works online too -- a copy of each message is stored locally, and when you connect to the Internet again things are properly synchronized.

Similarly, an iDisk can store a copy "locally". This copy is synchronized up with the server automatically when you connect to the internet, but you work on it locally when you're offline. You can get a rather decently sized iDisk, too -- and all the synchronization is handled completely transparently unless there's a conflict.

You can still use a FireWire drive to make a backup -- I'd encourage it, of course. But what's great is the whole "two machine" thing begins to feel like "one machine"... which is exactly what you want -- a transparent and reliable transition between PowerBook and iMac. You might even find yourself working on your PowerBook more often when you're not in Africa because it's become easier!

Does that make sense?

05-06-2005, 10:21 PM
Lol...no it was me, but it was before I actually purchased SuperDuper and I was thinking of it for a related but not exactly the same idea. It was before I bought the iMac and wanted to easily get stuff from my Cube to the iMac. Ended up just using target disk mode. The synching with the powerbook was still a dream, since I have been doing it manually for so long, if awkwardly.

I've been thinking about the .mac but hate spending the extra $ if I can avoid it, especially since it is a twice a year problem, for the most part. There are many competing uses for that $100 a year.

As for using the powerbook when I was home..it would mean prying it from my boyfriend's hands since he uses it 95% of the time when we are in the states. He checks all of his mail online so it isn't an issue for him that the mail is on two macs. That is a whole different issue, not one that applies here.

So, it would work to clone the iMac to the powerbook? I assume I do it as I do the firewire drive...hook the two together, reformat the drive and backup to the powerbook?

99% of the issue is mail related, copying user files is less a problem, just tme consuming. I may end up with the .mac route in the end though.

thanks for the great support.


05-06-2005, 10:40 PM
Understood. The .mac was just how I'd do it.

You can, of course, copy the iMac to the PowerBook and back, and you'd likely do it with FireWire target disk mode, as you indicated. As long as you're OK with basically whacking the "other" machine when you do it, then you can either erase or use Smart Update: your choice.

I do think the .mac way is the way to go. You can get it for a pretty significant discount -- like $60/yr or something -- and while it is money you don't *have* to spend, if it's likely to take an hour or two of your time to do this, that's worth $$$ too! (Not to mention what happens the first time you make a mistake...)