Migrating from MacPro to Mac mini


I just picked up a 2012 i7 Mac Mini 16gb/1TB HDD for $100 on eBay. Typically this model/spec sells for a lot more, so - got a bargain! Going to give it a test run to see if it can handle running my 2x 23" ACD’s, and remote desktop for my work-from-home duties, as well as maybe look at getting back into video editing.

My original plan was to find an 2018 mini with reasonable specs, but they are still selling around $900, and right now we’re looking at getting back into the property market, so when I saw this mini come up - and with my MacPro starting to possibly show signs of dying (random shut downs), I thought I’d take this opportunity and see if I can make it work.

Having recently upgraded a few Macs to SSD, including the 2012 i3 mini that’s my bedroom HTPC, I’ve purchased a 480GB WD Green SSD, which will hopefully arrive in a few days. To make things easier for me, I was thinking of just cloning over my existing Mac Pro’s startup drive.

Pretty sure I’ve asked before, but my brain keeps going back to the early Mac “System” days when the OS was specific-built for each machine…

Can I just clone my Mac Pro 5,1’s drive to the mini? (ie with SuperDuper or CarbonCopy) The MP5,1 is running Sierra, which is compatible with the mini.



I cloned my MacBook (2010) High Sierra install, and used it for replacing Catalina (I decided I didn’t like the OS changes) on my 2012 MBP, that seems to have worked OK. I’d say its safe, but if it doesn’t work, you’re using a new drive so just start from scratch? I’m planning to use the same clone (done with SuperDuper) to put High Sierra on my 2012 Mini.

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Was sure that was the case - then doubted myself! :slight_smile:

Yes, have a new WD SSD on its way…

I can’t see any problems with that. Certainly worth a try for the convenience.

The mini came with a 1TB HDD, so am considering popping the SSD into the 2nd Sata slot, and run with both - assuming a SMART check shows it’s doing ok. This way I’ll have some internal storage capacity beyond the start up drive.

The “shame” will be if/when I eventually do go for either a 2018 or 2020 mini, and it’s drive is soldered in place, so I wont be able to just pull the SSD out and transfer it over to the new mini. I’ll then have a 480GB SSD sitting around…

I was just thinking, maybe a better solution might be to install a clean system on the Mac mini & then use Migration Assistant to transfer everything over. Just a thought…

Yeah… that would avoid any potential existing issues in the OS ie crap I’ve installed over the years but don’t need etc…

I mostly just want to avoid needing my work’s IT Co having to remote in and instal the remote access setup… not sure I can just drag n drop it and retain the correct settings.

Might have a good play when the SSD arrives.

Also need to check if my HDMI - DVI connector works both ways - I used it to go from MacPro to TV years ago… now need to use it in reverse - Mini to Cinema Display… If not - I’ll have to look for a new dongle too.

Cosmic, just some thoughts. Down the track if you put the WD SATA SSD in a USB C enclosure, and connect it to a 2018 mini’s external Thunderbolt 3 port you should max out the SATA 3 speed of the drive interface (6GB/s). - Put all you Apps on the internal SSD of the 2018 mini and let your data overflow onto the external disk.
You’ll get a feel for near the speed this offers with a USB 3 enclosure and a fast disk (say a 7200RPM HD or try your new SATA SSD in a 2.5 inch USB 3 enclosure first) attached to your current 2012 mini
Or, more pricey, when you get the 2018 mini put an NVME SSD into an external Thunderbolt 3 enclosure connected to the 2018 mini. That would almost seem like it was inside the mini speed wise.
The mini is a desktop after all, it’s not like you would be lugging it and external drives around the place.

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I think I have a couple of DVI - HDMI adapters if you need one. Having said that, they’re probably pretty easy to get & not very expensive…

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Good points, @JimWOz !

My priority next is a 4-5 bay USB3 enclosure (looking at around $300 on eBay, prob 2nd hand). I know - there’s much faster options these days, but the 2012 mini only has USB3, and hopefully it should be sufficient for running my Plex server etc, whilst I test this move out of a tower setting.

Then later… I have certainly been eyeing off my 10±year-old 2-bay Firewire 800 enclosure. It’s noisy, and obviously very slow compared to modern tech. Currently it has my Time machine drive, plus a manual copy of my Plex server data. So - ideally when I do likely upgrade to a 2018 / 2020 mini, I’ll look at USB-C / etc - both to house the new 500GB SSD, but also for my backups. I do like the idea at the moment that I can grab “one box” and basically have all of my data in my hands.

Then again… I’m working on an assumption of staying with 4TB spinners, plus a few SSDs. Larger capacity SSDs may be viable for me down the track… or even just increasing to 8TB or even 12TB spinner/s… That would change my requirements to some degree. (Yeah - I know - you always need more space! :slight_smile: )

@richard Thanks for the offer - much appreciated! Looking online, I think the one I have should do the job - just have to find it. :slight_smile:

I’m still trying to sort out all my external storage/backup drives after getting my M1 Mac mini in January. I still have my 2010 Mac Pro too. Not sure what I’m going to do with that…

The MacPro5,1 in working order still fetches a reasonable price on eBay, especially if it’s got the 2 processor bays instead of 1 like mine. Mind you - a lot of people still expect BIG BUCKS, but in reality they aren’t reaching the prices they once were, and the Silicon era will only push prices lower.

I had thought of keeping the Pro as a server, but I think if my migration to a Mini + some kind of bulk HDD enclosure works out, I’ll try sell mine off. Ultimately they draw a lot of power, and unless you really have a purpose for them, it’s probably just not worth while holding on… (and the wife is already eyeing off my other classic Macs…!)

Yeah. If I’m going to get rid of it I need to do it soon while it’s still worth a bit. I was really only keeping it to run some old software & games…

According to Geekbench…

MacPro 2010 (5,1) 2.8Ghz
Single-Core 513 — Multi-Core 1960

Mac mini Late 2012 (6,2) 2.3Ghz
Single-Core 724 — Multi-Core 2805

So - on paper - the mini is around 40% faster than the Pro. It’s also maxed out with RAM compared to the Pro which only has 8GB, although even when I did a lot of video editing, it never showed much memory stress.

Just dug out the male HDMI - female DVI dongle. Of course, it was in the last box of cables/bits n pieces that I checked! Going to be a squeeze to get the mini display plug in next to it… hopefully will work. Going to power off now and check it out…

Grr. HDMI dongle was giving a very blue-tinted image. Tried bending it back into shape (had bent a bit over the years when I was using it on my TV) and now it’s Dead. :}
$15 for a new one at Officeworks… going for a drive.

And now it is working! 2x 23" Apple Cinema Displays now hooked up to the mini, giving clear images. Going to leave it at that for now and go back to using the MacPro, until the 480GB SSD arrives. Then I’ll have to work out what OS I want to run… whether I’ll just do a clone from the MacPro… or use Migration Assistant…

facepalm I could just pull the SSD from my MacPro, and put it in the mini… Indeed - would have saved myself $70 if I’d thought about it ahead of time. Oh well - actually could work out for me - if I do get back into video editing, it gives me an SSD to use as a scratch disk that can sit in the mini’s 2nd slot…

There’d be better options for those requirements… how about a 2012 mini? :slight_smile:

WD Green 480GB SSD arrives. Instal it without any dramas, having done the same with my other 2012 Mac mini.

Decided to try Mojave, as the final 32bit compatible OS. shrug Keeping some backward compatibility… why not.

Except… Because the Mojave installer wont open on my MacPro, I can’t instal it as I’d planned via firewire/target disk mode. The installer would probably run on my MacBookAir, but it doesn’t have firewire. There is no restore partition cos it’s a new blank drive. And - ok - I’ll use the internet restore option! It wants to instal Catalina. I’ll live with it to get started, then devolve to Mojave… right? No - the Catalina installer wont instal on an SSD, because the mini’s firmware is not up to date. Can the Catalina installer therefore update the firmware? No…

So I’m about to dig out my external USB dock, put the original HDD that I just pulled out of the Mini into it, boot the mini from it, copy over the Mojave installer, and then hopefully be able to instal Mojave direct on the mini…

Followed by Migration Assistant to hopefully bring over the files I need to at least log into work…

Overly complicated, Apple… Or maybe I am just really living in the past expecting Sierra to cut it…

Ok, and one last frustration… I’ve read that APFS is the correct format for an SSD in Appleland… The mini came with Mavericks… which doesn’t include APFS in its copy of disk utility. Changing from HFS to APFS is apparently a pain once you’ve got data on the drive… So - I am now installing Mojave onto the HDD, hopefully which will resolve the firmware issue (?!), and then will format the SSD from inside Mojave, and hopefully finally get Mojave installed on the SSD!

Cosmic, I don’t think this works now because of security concerns. I recently failed to install a new HS system on my 2011 MBP system rebuild when trying to do it in target disk mode.
I had to build HS on an external disk connected to my 2015 MBP 13" which was also running and capable of installing HS, and then booted the 2011 MBP with this external, installed CCC and used it to clone the HS system over onto the internal disk.

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Yeah - personally I think it’s absurd… and whilst Apple labels it as “security”, I think it’s way more about money. Making it harder to replace RAM and HDD, means computers don’t last as long as they used to…

It took ages, but Mojave finally installed onto the original HDD via the USB2 dock. Tonight I’ll try to now get Mojave installed on the SSD.

Does the installer automatically create a restore partition? I wouldn’t mind that feature, given how hard it is to use another computer now.

Mojave now installed, just bringing over data from Time Machine… Not an enjoyable experience, which I think really comes down to me wanting to instal an OS higher than what was on the MacPro…

Part of why I stayed on Sierra was Final Cut 7… but I haven’t done any video editing in several years now. I’ll see how Mojave feels on the Mini… but thinking either way, I’ll be leaving Sierra now. Time to move on.

I was just thinking the same thing (esp since a couple of sites are now whining about Safari being out of date). Is there a direct link to a Mojave install? Cant find one.

They keep them off the front page at the App Store !

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