OS X (macOS) Migration Assistant disk space bug

Hi all,

Have you ever encountered an issue with OS X (AKA macOS) Migration Assistant being stuck on restart and/or starting up screen? I know I have, and I know other people have too.

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If you don’t even know what Migration Assistant is, chances are you’ve used it anyway – because it’s run as an option on macOS installation – the one where you choose to import files from another drive/mac/etc. FYI.

The solution to the issue turned out to be rather simple in my case, but figuring it out took a couple of retries which all took several hours, so in total I’ve spent a few days (well, evenings) resolving the issue – and with this post I hope I can spare some people from repeating my fate.

Long story short, the issue was caused by a lack of disk space. Basically, if you choose not to import some files/folders in order to fit your data onto the target drive – Migration Assistant ignores that choice and tries to import everything. And when it runs out of disk space – it does not show any error or anything like that. Instead, import stops just as if all files were copied, installation proceeds to restart step (in case you’ve been doing it during macOS install like I did) – which gets stuck BTW. And on boot (by force reboot in my case) it was stuck on “Starting up” step. All because of lack of disk space.

The fix for me was to offload a particularly big folder to an external HDD, and then do the import.

That’s about it. Hope this helps.

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RAM disk on OS X High Sierra

Here’s a code for creating RAM disk that works for me under OS X High Sierra.
One can change FS from HFS+ to something else (say, APSE, or case-sensitive/journaled FSs), but for me HFS+ is the one I want.

ramdiskSizeMB=$(osascript -e 'return text returned of (display dialog "RAM disk size in MB" default answer "1024")')
echo Creating RAM disk of size $ramdiskSizeMB MB
hdidOutput=$(hdid -nomount ram://$((2048*ramdiskSizeMB)) | cut -d ' ' -f 1) && diskutil erasedisk "HFS+" ramdisk $hdidOutput

To free the RAM one can simply unmount it in finder or DiskUtility.

P.S. Updated version with FS type selection:

#!/bin/bash

choiceScript='return choose from list {';
while read -r fsType 
do
  choiceScript="${choiceScript}\"$fsType\","
done <<EOT
$(diskutil listFilesystems -plist | grep Personality -A 1 | grep -F "<string>" | grep -E -o ">[^<]+<" | grep -o -E "[^><]+" | sort)
EOT
choiceScript="${choiceScript}\"\"} with prompt \"Choose filesystem type\" "

ramdiskSizeMB=$(osascript -e 'return text returned of (display dialog "RAM disk size in MB" default answer "1024")')
if [ "$ramdiskSizeMB" != "" ]
then
  fsType=$(osascript -e "$choiceScript")

  if [ "$fsType" != "false" ]
  then
    export ramdiskName=$(osascript -e 'return text returned of (display dialog "RAM disk name" default answer "ramdisk")')
    if [ "$ramdiskName" == "" ] 
    then
      ramdiskName="ramdisk"
    fi
  
    echo Creating RAM disk $ramdiskName of size $ramdiskSizeMB MB with FS type $fsType
    hdidOutput=$(hdid -nomount ram://$((2048*ramdiskSizeMB)) | cut -d ' ' -f 1) && diskutil erasedisk "$fsType" "$ramdiskName" $hdidOutput
  fi
fi