Replace a device with a different operating system or file system


When you get a new device, the replace device wizard helps you transfer files, move your backup, and update settings. If you are switching from one operating system to another (like going from Windows to Mac), there are some limitations on what can be transferred. This article describes the limitations of replacing a device with a different operating system than your current device.


If you replace your current device with a device that has a different operating system, the replace device wizard notifies you that "There are some limitations when operating systems don't match". These limitations affect what you can transfer and your backup file selection.

replace device different os warning.png

File transfer

Step 2 of the replace device wizard prompts you to transfer files from your previous device to your new device. When transferring files from a device with a different operating system than your current device (for example, transferring files from Windows to Mac):

Backup file selection

Step 3 of the replace device wizard transfers settings from your previous device to your current device. This includes transferring the file paths from your backup file selection on the previous device to the current device. However, because different operating systems have different file-system hierarchies, the CrashPlan app can’t transfer these paths to the new file system when the operating system has changed.

The following examples illustrate the difference between replacing a device with the same operating system and replacing a device with a different operating system.

Example A: Mac to Mac

In this example, Lili backed up a Mac device. Then, she used the replace device wizard to replace it with a different Mac device.

  • Previous device's file selection: /Users/Liliana
  • Current device's file selection: /Users/Lili

On the current device, the previous device's file selection is shown under the path relative to the original device: /Users/Liliana. Because that folder doesn't exist on the current device, it's shown as missing.

mac file is missing.png

Example B: Mac to Windows

In this example, Lili backed up a Mac device. Then, she used the replace device wizard to replace that device with a Windows device.

On the current device, the previous device's file selection doesn't have a relative equivalent on Windows. Instead, the previous device's main drive is shown as Root at the same level as the main drive on the current device (C:). If Lili had replaced a Windows device with a Mac device, the Window device's drive would display as C: on the new device. Like the example above, because the file path does not exist on the current device, it is shown as missing.

windows file is missing.png

In both examples, you cannot browse the contents of your previous device's file selection. You can only view and manage the top-level folders included in your file selection from a previous device.

Manually update your file selection

Although the replace device wizard automatically updates your file selection, you should manually update your file selection to include your Videos or Movies folder if all of the following are true:

  • You're moving between Mac and Windows or Linux
  • You are not backing up your entire User or Home folder
  • The Movies or Videos folder was included in your previous backup selection

In this situation, the CrashPlan app does not automatically update the file selection to include the new Videos or Movies folder. The files under your old device will stay in your backup archive and can be downloaded to your new device. Manually adding the Videos or Movies folder ensures any new files saved to that folder will be backed up.

Removing your old device

Whether the device you replace has the same operating system or a different operating system than your current device, you should use caution when updating your file selection.

If you remove folders selected from your previous device, there is no way to add them back because the paths do not exist on your new device. Additionally, you will lose all version history from the previous device. To keep your version history, keep the previous device selected indefinitely.

If you do not want to keep your version history, and you want to remove your previous device from your file selection, let your backup reach 100% first. Deselecting files before the CrashPlan app has backed up the file locations on your new device deletes the files from your backup archive and there is no way to recover them. For more details, see our information on managing files after replacing your device.

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