Migrating to new iPhone

I recently acquired a new iPhone and I was confronted with the question on how to transfer all my data and apps from the old one. I have done it in the past for friends and I wanted share my experience.

Mainly three options

In order to transfer data from one to another iPhone, there are multiple options like backup/restore through a computer, restore from iCloud backup or direct phone to phone copy.

Each of these methods has their pros and cons. Backup / restore via a computer obviously requires to be connected physically to the computer during the process. And this may be quite long. Similarly phone to phone copy requires both old and new phones to be sitting next to each other also for quite some time. Recent phones may embark several hundreds of gigabytes of data and this will drive the total transfer time. As Apple states it:

If you transfer directly from your previous device, you’ll need to wait for the transfer to complete on both devices before you can use them


My favorite option which I’ll describe here is iCloud backup and restore. It goes smoothly and after an initial minimum data restore, the remaining steps continue in background, allowing continuous usage of the old and new iPhones.

Prerequisites and first steps

First of all you need to have an iCloud backup of the old iPhone. You probably do have one since backing up is, in my humble opinion, a must.

When you turn on the new iPhone, you will be driven through the first steps like choosing the language, the country etc, and then the question of the restore option. See the details on Apple’s web site: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT210216, before opting for the restore from iCloud. My old iPhone had 256GB of data, but this does not really matter, as the bulk of the data will come in background transfer directly on your wifi or data plan.

Once the initial setup is complete, a message is displayed announcing that the rest of the data will come later.


Now that the new iPhone is operational to the bear minimum, while your apps and data are being downloaded from the cloud, there is a number of manual things to be done.

Data plan

If you have a SIM card, take it out of the old iPhone and insert it in the new iPhone.

I have an eSim from Proximus (Belgium). Their website says you only need to visit the My Proximus page and access the QR code. Flash it with the new iPhone and boom, the eSim is transferred. Except that they are missing one important step before doing so: Deactivate the eSim from the old iPhone! If you don’t, you get a message that the QR is either invalid or not compatible with your device. No option: you must delete the eSim from the old iPhone. This is pretty scaring since when this is done, you have no data, no service, so sms. But yeah, I did it. Then I flashed the eSim QR code from My Proximus account and bingo the eSim was activated and pretty much immediately I got my services back, on the new iPhone. For some reason, the PIN code I had set on the eSim was invalid (I suppose it falls back to the initial PIN code). After three failed tentative I could use the PUK also provided on My Proximus web site to reset the PIN code to my desired one.


Wallet was restored from the cloud, for each of the Apple Pay cards stored in Wallet, I had to validate them via the bank app. So first thing first, restore or setup the bank app.

Bank app

The bank apps (I have several) all had to be set a new profile, using the bank card and whatever method the bank uses to authenticate you, digipass, soft key, phone call,…


In Belgium, we have Itsme, a kind of governmental / bank based authentication app that is very secure and allows access to official sites such as tax system or other finance services. The bank or an ID card reader can be used to validate your identity. Itsme needs to be reactivated on the new device and that is very straight forward: after providing the phone number you pick your favorite bank or eID reader to validate it. If it is a bank, it will be validated via a combination of the bank app (just restored at previous step) and a digipass or other secure method used by the bank.

Back to Wallet

Now that the bank app is setup, each of the Apple Pay cards in your Wallet can be verified. That goes via the bank app and your best smile (assuming FaceID is in use).

Whatsapp, Telegram, etc

Those apps are based on the mobile phone number and service. Once the number is confirmed, an SMS will be sent with a validation code. That’s as simple as that and all your contacts and conversations are restored on the new iPhone.

Mail apps

Mail app, or Gmail app will ask to sign in with your password. Make sure you know it or have access your emails if needed to reset it. No brainer.

Authenticator app

I use an authenticator app for Two Factor Authentication. It was restored fully after asking for confirmation twice that I wanted to restore it from its cloud backup. I did and all my authenticator items were back and functioning.


Last but not least, Photos. My photo library is iCloud based, that is all my photos are stored in iCloud. That requires most probably a paid service. It is my case.

Thanks to iCloud, my entire photo library was restored on my new iPhone. I don’t which photos are downloaded locally on the phone vs. those replaced by a thumbnail and residing really in Apple’s servers. But the result is that all my photos are reachable in Photos app. They were restored during the night. In no time though the first photos (most recent) were there, visible in the library.

In case your library is not in iCloud, the restore time between iPhones or from your computer via cable may be significantly longer.

That’s it

Your new iPhone should be operational by now. Depending on the apps and services you have, there might be additional steps and sign ins to be performed, such as Dropbox, or Office.


Target Mode

This feature, target mode, saved my life.

What is it?

Target mode is a working mode of the Mac that turns it into an external disc drive.

I recently bought a new Mac Studio, as my good old iMac 27″ mid-2011 was dead, or at least, wouldn’t boot. It keeps looping between the start Bong and a grey empty screen.

I have a good backup (Time Machine) as well as iCloud copy of my files. I feel comfy about this migration to the brand new Mac. However, what I thought was a good Time Machine backup revealed unrecognized on the new Mac. Migration Assistant wouldn’t find the data on the disk. Or did I not wait long enough, since it is a 4TB USB 3 drive with lots of data on it, and may OSX has to kind of make its mind.

So I installed the new Mac without a restore from Time Machine, just the iCloud connection. That’s already good, since my Desktop and Documents were rapidly sync’ed from the cloud. Excellent.

But some of my important files, such as secondary Photos libraries were thus missing.

Here comes Target Mode

By pressing the T key at boot, the (old) Mac would enter the Target Mode and share the internal drive(s) over the Thunderbolt or Firewire ports. Great!

Problem, on the iMac 2011, Thunderbolt is a Thunderbolt 2 connector and my new Mac Studio has Thunderbolt 4 ports (on USB-C connector). Fortunately enough, my wife uses also an iMac 2011 with the proper Thunderbolt 2 connector and I managed to access the files on my old iMac on my wife’s iMac. The old iMac “Macintosh HD” disk just mounts on the other iMac as an external drive and I can read all the files on it.

However when I tried to share the said drive over the network in order to access it from the new Mac Studio, no luck. The shared drive looks empty. Maybe again I did not wait long enough for the authorization of sharing be applied.

So I copied the files I needed from the old iMac to my wife’s iMac local drive (130 GB of files) and then copied them again over the network to the Studio. Thank you Target Mode!


I eventually bought from Apple an adapter Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 and it worked just fine: my old iMac’s drives mount on the Mac Studio, pico bello.

iCloud ne synchronise pas?

Récemment, lors du remplacement du disque dur (SSD) de mon iMac, et après avoir restauré son contenu à partir de Time Machine (voir mon post sur la meilleure stratégie de backup), je me suis rendu compte que mes dossiers iCloud (Documents & Bureau) avaient un peu de mal et ne semblaient plus se synchroniser avec iCloud. Certains documents modifiés sur mon MacBook Pro n’étaient pas à jour!

En cliquant sur l’icône en forme de barre de progression circulaire du dossier iCloud, une barre de progression s’affiche mais semble ne pas progresser du tout. Je me dis que ça ira mieux demain. Mais rien n’y fait. Le lendemain, la barre n’a pas progressé d’un mm. Il est vrai que j’ai une bonne trentaine de Go dans iCloud et que somme toute, après la restauration des fichiers depuis Time Machine, donc d’une version potentiellement plus ancienne de certains fichiers, on peut se demander comment iCloud va traiter cela. Après tout, ce fichier Excel restauré d’hier semble avoir été placé sur iCloud à l’instant. Quid de sa version plus récente sur le Macbook?

Prenons un exemple, le fichier File.xlsx a été modifié le 16/03/2021 à 16:09:23 sur le Macbook. La restauration Time Machine a récupéré File.xlsx daté du 15/03/2021 à 21:37:43, mais cette restauration a eu lieu le 16/03/2021 à 17:00:00. Que va faire iCloud? La bonne version du fichier est bien celle du Macbook, datée du 16/03/2021 à 16:09:23.

Et bien dans mon cas, iCloud semble un peu perdu et ne synchronise plus. Est-ce ce dilemme la cause de cette hésitation? Allez savoir.

Comment y remédier?

Apple préconise, lorsque iCloud ne synchronise plus, de fermer la session et la rouvrir après redémarrage. Fermer la session, affiche une alerte: vos fichiers seront effacés de ce Mac! Vous pouvez en garder une copie si nécessaire. Dans mon cas, pas besoin de copie, j’ai toujours ma sauvegarde Time Machine et la version dans le Cloud. J’opte donc pour décocher la copie locale et ferme la session.

Après redémarrage de mon ordi, et reconnexion à iCloud, surprise: mes fichiers sont instantanément restaurés dans Documents et Bureau, mais toujours pas synchro! Etrange. Du coup je retente la déconnexion d’iCloud en m’assurant bien d’avoir décoché l’option de copie locale. Je redémarre le Mac, mais avant de reconnecter iCloud, je vérifie le contenu de mes dossiers. Documents et Bureau sont bien vides, mais il existe un dossier à la racine de mon compte sur le disque système: iCloud Drive (Archive). Voilà mo coupable!

Pourtant je ne l’ai pas demandé. Je renomme donc ce dossier en “Mon iCloud Drive (Archive)” avant de rouvrir la session iCloud.

Cette fois c’est bon, mes dossiers Documents et Bureau sont bien vides…. mais restent vides! Je m’attends au moins à voir la structure de ces dossiers apparaître depuis iCloud, mais non rien! Je décide de jouer la montre et je m’occupe d’autre chose, tout en gardant un oeil discret sur mes dossiers. A tout hasard, je crée un dossier “16 Mars” sur le bureau, juste pour voir. J’ouvre mon MacBook Pro et constate que ce dossier ne semble pas y apparaître… Pas d’icône nuage iCloud non plus sur l’iMac…

Et puis soudain, sans prévenir, mes dossiers se remplissent à nouveau depuis iCloud, “17 Mars” apparaît sur le MacBook Pro et tous les autres documents et dossiers descendent du nuage. Ouf! La synchro est rétablie. Mon File.xlsx est daté du 16/03/2021 à 16:09:23, c-à-d la dernière version montée dans iCloud depuis le MacBook Pro. Normal!


La gestion d’iCloud semble coller aux attentes. Cependant, Apple laisse les utilisateurs dans le noir. Un petit tableau de bord qui montrerait l’état de la synchro iCloud ne serait pas un luxe, avec un bouton pour la relancer voire une gestion des conflits éventuels. On peut rêver.

What backup strategy for your Mac?

The recent fire at an OVH cloud hosting data center has brought the security of our data and the need for backups back to the top of our concerns.

How many times have I been called for help by a friend or family member for a broken computer or a failed hard drive. My first question is always the same: “do you have a backup?” And often the answer is the same too: “Uh… no!”

Fortunately enough, Mac owners, you have everything you need at hand for a good backup strategy. As a general rule, it is advisable to always have at least two copies of our data, three is even better.

Let’s imagine some possible and even probable scenarios:

  1. your 10 year old computer crashes, dead. Or your laptop falls into the water as you cycle across a bridge.
  2. you edit an important presentation for tomorrow to be video-conference in front of fifty participants including your boss, but you get tangled up and mistakenly overwrite it with another unimportant presentation. Ten days of work lost. Panic!
  3. a thief breaks into your home and takes your beloved computer with all your photos and videos inside. He also steals external hard drives piled up on your desk. Or worse, a fire breaks out in your house, which is reduced to ashes, from the cellar to the attic.

You are in great trouble, unless you have implemented a backup strategy, which we will describe here.

Let’s start with the different possible options:

  1. iCloud redundancy
  2. Time Machine backup
  3. backup in the cloud

iCloud redundancy

Your important files (Documents, photos) are stored in the Apple Cloud. This protects you in the event of loss, failure or destruction of your computer. Once the computer is repaired or replaced, signing in to the iCloud account will restore all of your documents and photos to the new device. This option has a cost, because the free version is limited to 5GB, which means not much. But it is very practical and comfortable, nothing to do, your documents magically reappear in their original location. Be careful, however, this redundancy does not protect against handling error (overwriting one file by another or throwing in the trash and emptying the trash), because the error is also replicated in the cloud.

Time Machine backup

If there’s one original unbeatable feature on your Mac, it’s Time Machine. Here is a backup system that works in an autonomous, transparent and simple way. All you need is an external hard drive plugged into the Mac and having chosen to make it the backup drive to have a real time machine at hand.

You deleted an important file or made irreversible changes in this document, your week’s work (if not your life). Click on the Time Machine icon and choose “Enter Time Machine”. And your Finder transforms into a true time machine, and shows you the past in perspective. Go back to a specific point in time using the timeline on the right side of the screen. Choose your file and click restore. Time Machine will resuscitate your file to the state it was in at that time. Phew, you are saved.

Try to do the same on Windows, it’s good luck!

Cloud backup

At one time, I used to make copies of my documents, photos and videos on DVD, then later on external hard drives, which I deposited (every 6 months) in a safe in the bank. But it was tedious and the 6 month distance didn’t protect me from losing the most recent data (less than 6 months old, that is).

But today there are solutions in the cloud. These are paid services (count around a hundred euros per year) but they will save you going back and forth to the bank and managing external disks. The principle is simple, these services send a copy of your files to a server in the Cloud, an encrypted and secure copy of course. A bit like Time Machine, but without the timeline: that is, we only back up the latest version of each file. But that is more than enough.

Be careful sending to the cloud is often very slow, because your internet “speed” is not the same going up to the cloud as it is down from the cloud. It took me 4 months for my 1TB of data to be backed up the first time. It takes a long time, but the process can be interrupted and picked up where it left off. We don’t care., it’s transparent.

This completely off-site cloud backup system protects you from your worst nightmare: the destruction of the house. Not only did you lose everything, your house but also all your belongings, but also your memories, photos and videos of your children and other memorable vacations. If you have opted for this backup in the cloud: your memories are safe and sound, provided you remember your password or encryption key. If you wrote it in your notebook in the third drawer, you’re screwed.

Back to our worst case scenarios

Your 10 year old computer crashes, dead. Or your laptop falls into the water as you cycle across a bridge.

In this case, iCloud redundancy or Time Machine backup are your lifeline. iCoud will magically make your files reappear as if you were on the same computer. Time Machine also offers the possibility of restoring all your applications, as long as their version is compatible with your brand new computer and its latest version of OSX.

You edit an important presentation for tomorrow to do on video conference, but you get tangled up and mistakenly overwrite it with another unimportant presentation. Three days of work lost.

Here it is clearly Time Machine that will save you the day. You will be able to go back in time to a little before that fateful moment when you committed the irreparable (not so irreparable after all).

A thief breaks into your home and takes your precious computer with all your photo and video memories. It also takes external hard drives piled up on your desk. Or a fire breaks out in your house, which is reduced to ashes, from the cellar to the attic.

Everything went up in smoke, including your small NAS file server in the basement which was so handy for your Time Machine backups and also served as a video server for your big screen TV (which also went up in smoke). Fortunately, you have subscribed to this cloud backup service. OK it will take a little while to download everything back to your new Mac in your new home.

In conclusion, you understand that the three solutions are complementary and you will not regret the annual cost of these if the worst were to happen.

Go ahead, don’t wait any longer.

How to use Dropbox in order to share documents between your PC and tablet

If you use both a computer and a tablet or smartphone, it is very useful to be able to share documents between those devices.

Dropbox is a cloud storage solution designed for this exact scenario.

Preliminary note: the USB stick.

The USB stick is kind of the physical version of the cloud in this scenario. But it comes with a major flaw: you will have to manually manage the copies back and forth, and number of versions of the same document will grow rapidly. Suppose you have a document names “first lesson.docx” on your computer and you want to take it on the move on your iPad. You will first make a copy of the document on your USB stick. Before you know, you already have 2 (identical for now) copies of the same document. Once you edit that document on the iPad, you’ll have to save it back onto the USB stick, and not forget to copy it back on your computer, before you can edit it there. And the same process applies to share it again on the iPad via the USB stick. It is rather easy to mess up the versions if you don’t have a strong discipline. Now imagine you are working not on one but tens of documents: managing the versions of those between the USB stick, the computer and the tablet will be a nightmare for sure. USB Stick does not sound like the good option for this scenario.

Here is the scenario: get access to all my documents (or a selection of them) on both my computer and tablet without having to manage file copies and versions manually.


In this scenario, we need a computer, a tablet or smartphone, a Dropbox account and an application able to edit the document on the computer or the tablet. Let’s take the Word example and assume we have it installed on the computer and the tablet.

Installation process

  1. Get a Dropbox account: Visit Dropbox website https://www.dropbox.com/, in order to sign up or sign in to an existing account. Dropbox is free for up to 5GB of storage.
  2. Install the Dropbox application on the computer: this will create a virtual folder on the computer, that syncs with the cloud storage of Dropbox.
  3. Install Dropbox app on the tablet or smartphone, via the App Store, just like for any other application, and connect to the same Dropbox account created in step 1.
  4. On the computer, move all the desired documents files to the Dropbox folder. This will upload the documents to the cloud storage at Dropbox. This step can take some time depending on the speed of your internet connection upstream.

Viewing and editing documents online

In this scenario, the computer and the tablet are connected to Internet.

Access the document on the computer

  • On the computer, open the document from the Dropbox folder by double-clicking the file. The document opens in Word, in read-write mode.
  • When saving the changes, the document is saved on both the local folder and the cloud storage. The document is in sync.

Access the document on the tablet

  • On the tablet, start the Word app
  • In the Open menu, you have first to add the Places where your documents are stores, such as Dropbox (in this case) or Dropbox, or any other stotage service.
  • Obviously you’ll have to connect to Dropbox using the same account as previously 😉
  • You can now see your documents in the Dropbox folder and open them by simply clicking them.
  • In order to edit, just tap the cursor where needed and start typing.
  • In order to end editing and save the document, simply tap the left arrow on top left corner of the screen.
  • The document is automatically saved into the Dropbox cloud and becomes available on the computer (in sync).

Offline mode variant

The Dropbox app on the tablet allows to make a document available offline.

  • On the tablet, launch the Dropbox app;
  • Navigate to the desired document;
  • Tap the little down arrow icon on the right and select Make Available Offline
    make avail offline dropbox
  • The document is now available offline.

Full edit mode and sync!

As opposed to OneDrive, Dropbox allows full edition mode offline. Just click the Edit button in the Offline Copy warning.
offline edit

You can now edit the document offline. At next connection the changes will be sync’d back to the Dropbox cloud. This is fully transparent and works very nicely.


Dropbox is really superior Cloud storage solution thanks to these full fledge offline capabilities, despite the lower storage capacity for free and the only 1TB pay option at 100EUR/year. 1TB might be too much.

Feel free to share your own experience with this using the comments.