Swifter FireWire transfers

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Reader Bill Wythkit is a laptop user in a hurry. He writes:

I need to clear some room on my PowerBook’s hard drive in a hurry for an upcoming project. I have a high-capacity hard drive in my Power Mac that will fit all the data on my PowerBook but I don’t want to copy my laptop’s data over the AirPort network because it will take forever. Is there a faster way?

There is/are. Both involve the FireWire ports on your Macs.

The first is to use a network, but instead of the not-so-zippy AirPort, use FireWire networking instead. To do so, follow along:

1. With both Macs up and running string a FireWire cable between them.

2. On each machine launch the Network system preference.

3. Choose Network Port Configurations from the Show menu.

4. Make sure that Built-in FireWire is enabled. If it isn’t, enable it and click the Apply Now button. Drag this Built-in FireWire option to the top of the list so that it will be chosen before a slower protocol.

5. Choose Built-in FireWire from the Show menu on each Mac and be sure that Using DHCP appears in the Configure iPv4 pop-up menu.

6. Move to the Sharing system preference on each machine and ensure that Personal File Sharing is on within the Services tab.

7. On your Power Mac, move to the Finder and choose Go -> Connect to Server. Click the Browse button and your PowerBook’s name should appear in the Network window. Double-click on it and in the resulting Connect to Server dialog box, enter the user name and password for your PowerBook. Click Connect.

8. You’ll be offered the choice to mount the directory that contains the PowerBook’s user folder or any mounted volume on the PowerBook. Which you choose depends on the data you want to move. If it’s just data in your user folder, choose that rather than the entire startup volume.

Once the user folder/volume is mounted, it’s a simple matter to copy the data you want from the PowerBook to the Power Mac via the Finder. If you like you can use a synchronization utility to move the data for you (a tool like Carbon Copy Cloner doesn’t work, however—it needs to see a volume that it believes is directly connected rather than a network volume).

So that’s FireWire networking. There’s a more direct route, and that’s FireWire Target Disk Mode. Like so:

1. Switch off the PowerBook and string that same FireWire cable between the two Macs.

2. Power on the PowerBook while holding the T key. The PowerBook’s drive will appear on the Power Mac’s desktop as a FireWire drive.

3. Have your way with the data on the PowerBook—copy, sync, or clone it as you like. Yes, in this case, Carbon Copy Cloner works perfectly well as it believes your PowerBook is now a local volume.

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