Why do some applications behave differently or ask for the serial number after restoring from the backup?

This documentation is for an older version of CCC. You can find the latest version here.
Last updated on March 10, 2023

Some applications won't work when transferred to a new disk or when run on a different Mac. This has nothing to do with whether or how CCC backs up your data, it comes down to the serialization requirements imposed by the software vendor (i.e. their anti-piracy strategy). Some applications will work just fine, some will simply require that you re-enter your serial number (Microsoft Office and Adobe apps frequently fall in this category), while other applications will require a reinstallation from the original install media or online reactivation via the vendor's website. CCC cannot (technically or legally) subvert activation requirements imposed by other software vendors.

Also note that some applications consider the presence or absence of peripherals as well as other hardware characteristics during the installation process. If these conditions are different when running the application on a new hard drive or Macintosh, you may encounter problems. We have seen these types of problems with some high-end audio software packages in the past, particularly with the installation or configuration of various plugins.

We recommend that you always retain a copy of your applications' installers and serial numbers in case the applications have special serialization or installation requirements.

Non-registration-related, application-specific oddities

In addition to application registration issues that occur when running your apps on a new volume, there are occasionally other oddities that you may encounter after restoring from a backup (any backup, even Time Machine backups). The following is a list of potentially unexpected behavior that has been reported to us that a) appears to be a consequence of running an application from a different volume or on a different Macintosh and b) does not appear to be or cannot be accommodated/resolved in the backup process:

  • Dropbox may ask you to reconfigure your account settings
  • GateKeeper may reverify non-notarized applications that were previously verified on the source (e.g. you will see a dialog "Verifying iMovie.app" when opening that item).
  • Time Machine may no longer recognize your original source volume because the UUID has changed
  • Google Drive must be disconnected, then reconnected to your account. Details here
  • Finder preferences may not be respected (e.g. whether to show disks on the Desktop, the contents of the "All my files" item may be empty)
  • Photoshop may require that you reset the Scratch Disk preference
  • Finder may not resolve aliases to files on a backup volume. Finder will give you the opportunity to "readdress" these aliases when you try to open them.
  • Network settings may not be respected on (or even migrated to) another Macintosh. If you have an extensive VPN configuration that you want to preserve, we recommend that you export those settings to a file before you lose access to the original Mac.
  • The Prevent App Nap setting applies to specific instances of applications, so this setting will not be applied to copies of an application (e.g. on a backup volume).
  • The Local Items Keychain is a local repository of passwords and other form data eligible to be synced via iCloud to your other devices running iOS 7 or newer. Safari and Mail store passwords in the Local Items keychain. Some items in Local Items Keychain cannot be migrated to another Mac (this setting cannot be overidden, even by the user), and the rest can only be migrated to another Mac if your backup volume is encrypted.
  • If you open an Adobe Lightroom catalog from a restored volume, Lightroom may indicate that your photos cannot be found because the catalog references the name and path of the original source volume. See this Adobe support article for instructions on how to re-link your catalog to the photo folders on your restored volume, or watch this video on our YouTube channel to see a demonstration of the problem and solution. Another tip: renaming the restored volume the same as the original volume name may help Lightroom resolve catalog links to the media.
  • TeamViewer Product Support recommends that TeamViewer be reinstalled when restoring a backup to a different Macintosh.
  • If configured to start on login, the Box Sync application will delete the contents of your Box Sync folder, then re-download all of the content from Box.com (i.e. after you have restored data from a backup or migrated to a new Mac). The Box Sync application uses a folder inode number to identify the Box Sync folder, and that attribute cannot be preserved during a backup or a restore.
  • Signatures in the Preview application won't be recognized when migrating data to another Mac, they're only recognized on the Mac upon which they were created.
  • Apple Pay may function incorrectly after migrating data from a backup. Apple documents some suggestions here, but we have found that simply creating a new admin account, then logging in to your iCloud account in the new account will work around the issue. You do not have to use the new account regularly, just create it and log in to Apple ID, then go back to using your production account. Apple is apparently aware of the awkwardness (and it is actually unrelated to migrating data from a backup) and have intentions to resolve it in a future OS update.

References to third-party solutions/workarounds are provided as information only. We have not tested these solutions and we cannot endorse them.