How to Transfer Files from PC to Mac When Migration Assistant Does Not Work

Like many others who are switching from a PC to a Mac, you are most likely in a situation where you need to get some or all of your personal data and files moved over to your new system. This can sometimes be quite a chore but there are good reliable ways to do this.

While Apple provides a good tool in Migration Assistant, it doesn’t always work the way you want it to, so many find themselves needing another way to do this. No need to worry because there certainly are other options and I will show you some of them here.

My name is Eric and I have gone through a number of new computers and had the need to move files from my old to the new. It’s kind of an exciting process, knowing that you will be using your new computer, but it can also be a little tedious if you have a large amount to move.

If you would like to see some options other than using Migrations Assistant, stick around and we will discuss some of the best ways of transferring your files from a PC to a Mac.

Alternate File Transfer Methods

There are quite a few methods to choose from and you may even have some of your own ideas that I have not listed here. We will first take a look at some of the easier or more straightforward methods and then discuss some that are a little more complicated to set up.

In this article, I will give a quick overview of each method but will not provide step-by-step instructions here. I will provide links where appropriate in case you need more information on how to implement the method.

What You Will Need

Each method may have slightly different requirements, so I will identify those where I can and where they are specific to each method. Apart from the specific requirements for each method, you will need to have or prepare the following things.

Files

First and foremost you will need to identify what files you want to transfer. Find the location and take note of them somehow. If you have many different files in different folders or locations on your machine it can be difficult to keep track of all of them in the process. 

Write the information down before you start or create some notes in a file that is easily accessible. 

Number of Files

If possible take note of the number of files you will be transferring. Having the number of files you are going to transfer is one of the ways that you can verify everything has been transferred successfully.

Time

If you have a large number of files this process can take a significant amount of time. Make sure you set aside enough time to complete this process. It’s best to be able to do everything all at once if possible so you don’t lose track of the process.

You will also want to be able to keep an eye on the transfer process to look out for any errors or messages that might indicate failures to copy or transfer. This can often be key in ensuring that it goes smoothly and without loss of data.

Simple Transfer Methods

The following are some of the easier methods for transferring the files and ones that I would recommend for most users.

Cloud Storage

Using cloud storage is probably the most popular method along with being the most straightforward. You will need to have a good internet connection. You can do this over a wireless network, but it will be quicker and more reliable if you are connected with a cable.

Using some type of cloud storage such as Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, and numerous others, you can simply copy your files up to the cloud drive from your PC, and then copy them from the cloud drive down to your Mac.

Depending on your internet connection speed, doing this can take a fair amount of time if you have a large number of files. You will also need to keep in mind how much space you have available on your cloud drive as this can fill it up very quickly.

USB Flash Drive

Now that flash drives come in Terabyte and larger sizes, this really is a great solution. Plugin the drive to the USB port on your PC, and copy the files to it. Unplug it from your PC, plug it into your Mac and then copy the files to your Mac. It’s that simple.

USB Hard Drive

This will work the same way as the USB flash drive we mentioned above. These drives can come with even more space, so they are a great solution if you have tons of data to move over.

More Involved Transfer Methods

The next set of transfer methods are a little more involved. They take some specific system knowledge, experience, and a little more work. 

You might wonder why doesn’t everyone use the simple methods listed above. Well, these methods have some particular advantages as we will see.

Optical Drive Media

This is a method that I really do like even though it requires a lot of time and a little hard work. The reason being is that at the end you will have a permanent removable backup of your files that you can keep in a file cabinet, safe or somewhere away from your main system.

This is great for disaster recovery in the event of a fire, flood, or theft. Especially if you have tons of photos or other types of files that you really don’t want to lose.

This method works very similarly to the flash and hard drive methods, but you use an optical drive that can write to CD, DVD, or Blue-ray disc. You can then transfer the files from the optical disc to your Mac. In the end, you will still have the permanent copy of the disc for backup.

Network File Sharing

This is a very common way of doing this and often what is used in an office or work environment. Simply connect both computers to the same network (wired or wireless), and share out the PC folders you wish to copy over. 

Connect to the Windows machine from your Mac. Once connected to the Windows machine you can simply copy the files from the Windows share to a new location on your Mac.

If you don’t have a network to connect to you can also connect your PC to your Mac directly with a network cable, firewire, wirelessly, or even through BlueTooth and do the same thing.

The advantages of files sharing, are that this is a fairly quick process because you only need to copy the files once, which also gives you less of a chance of missing something or making mistakes. 

Since the two are connected, it can also make it easy to compare directories or folders to verify all the files have been transferred.

Network Attached Storage

NAS or Network Attached Storage is another method and it is kind of a combination of using flash drives, hard drives, and network file sharing. NAS is a hard drive or storage space that is attached to your network. 

It can be attached to your router, a server, or they even have hard drives that have their own wireless cards and connect to your wireless network.

In this scenario, you can connect to NAS over your network, and copy the files to the shared drive. You can then connect to that same drive from your Mac and copy the files from the NAS to your Mac. 

The advantages of this are that it is easily accessible from all your computers on that network. You will also have a backup copy left on the network drive if you need it later and it is fairly easy to connect to that drive and compare files to ensure you haven’t missed anything.

Verify The Data

Once you have the files in place you should do some kind of verification to make sure that everything is there. Try to check the number of files on the new computer and see if it matches the number you recorded before you started. 

You can also look at the files to see that each one is there, but this may be impossible for a large number of them. If you do have a large number, pick out a number of files at random and check if they are on the Mac. Random spot checks are often a good initial indicator of success.

Tools to Help

There are software tools that can help you through this process. Years ago, I used to use a tool called Laplink to connect two computers and transfer files. It turns out that they still have a good tool for doing this that works for PC and Mac and it is called Laplink Switch & Sync.

I am sure there are many other tools out there on the market. You can also find tools such as Beyond Compare which are great for comparing two folders and finding if they have any differences. These kinds of tools are great for verifying that your data was properly transferred.

Tip: File comparison tools such as Beyond Compare, WinMerge, and others are great for transferring files from one location to another. 

Just do a comparison of your original directory to an empty directory and then have the tool copy over everything that is missing. You will then have identical folders.

Final Words

I hope this article has given you some good ideas on how to transfer your files from a PC to a Mac without Migration Assistant.

As usual, let us know if you have any questions or comments. We would love to hear from you!

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