Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

Re: Mac conversion from PC

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Title: Re: Mac conversion from PC
I won’t quibble with much, but I will quibble with some.

Your old PC runs at full speed (it has direct  access to your Mac's processor) and you can allocate how much memory you want  it to take up”

Yes and no.  While for the most part, you will get full speed running Windows through a VM program like Parallels, there IS a performance hit.  It is not anywhere near as bad a performance hit as when you ran Windows in an emulation program (like Virtual PC) on the older PowerPC platform, but there is one.  You will notice it most when going graphically intensive programs.  Prior to Parallels Desktop 4 (i.e. Version 3 and earlier) you did not even consider doing an real gaming in Windows running in Parallels...and this would have also largely effected things like AutoCAD, especially if you do 3D modeling in AutoCAD (or I would expect Revit).  This is supposedly a lot better in version 4 of Parallels, but it is still not the same as running Windows natively in Boot Camp.  Now, I am not saying that you cannot run the likes of AutoCAD in Parallels, but just be aware that you will take a bit of a performance hit, especially if you are trying to do some sort of a large 3D model.

As to Superduper, yes, it is a great program.  I use it as well for my Mac as my primary backup method (I use secondary and “thirdary” (is that tertiary?) methods as well).  But, you can nominally do the same thing on a PC.  I use True Image to clone my boot drives of my Windows boxes.  While it is tougher to do such a clone backup to a bootable external drive (because not all PCs have the ability to boot off USB...and even if they do, Windows can be a little finicky at times booting from USB), it can be done (I do it by way of an eSATA connection).  But, frankly for this type of backup, it is no problem to put the backup drive internally if the main drive hoses (you can clone to a USB drive just fine...just tend to have issues trying to boot from it on a PC) as you will likely be needing to replace the hosed drive anyway.  And I will note that generally speaking the cloning process on my PCs is WAY faster than on my Mac for a brand spanking new clone (Superduper can do “smart clones” were it updates the clone you have previously done, which can dramatically speed the process up).


Adrian, MI

On 8/27/09 4:10 PM, "SGE Structural" <sgordin(--nospam--at)> wrote:


The switch from PC to Mac will be a decision you are not likely going to regret. The reliability, usability, and security of Mac systems can significantly improve the day to day functions not just for regular consumers, but for structural engineering firms too. Almost all compatibility problems have been eliminated with the combination of existing Mac software and Windows virtualization products such as Parallels Desktop.

While it true that structural engineers cannot completely abandon Windows, many advancements in this very area have opened the door for engineers to transition from PC to Mac.

In order to transfer your documents, programs, and program settings, you can actually convert your current PC into a virtual PC by using a program like Parallels Transporter. This virtual PC is basically just one big image file which can be opened on your Mac using Parallels Desktop. Parallels this week actually released a Switch To Mac edition of their software, which makes this transition (both documents and programs) completely painless. You can see a demo of how this Switch To Mac edition works, here <> .

Once you have completed this, you basically have your old PC running inside of a window on your new Mac. The beauty of this approach however, is fivefold:
  1. Your old PC runs at full speed (it has direct  access to your Mac's processor) and you can allocate how much memory you want  it to take up  
  2. All files, clipboard contents, and networks can  be shared between virtual PC's and your Mac (this makes it very easy to move  your documents from the virtual PC onto your Mac)  
  3. Due to an amazing feature called Coherence, you  can actually run Windows programs side by side with Mac applications (see a  demo of this here <> )  
  4. You can choose the level of isolation for the  virtual Windows machine (this means that viruses, spyware, etc which can  affect your Windows machine will not affect the files on your Mac)   
  5. Backing up your entire virtual Windows machine  is as simple as copying the image file to an external hard drive (in fact, any  backup of your Mac will subsequently backup your virtual PC too).  [Sidenote: one of the main (both business & consumer) advantages of  working on a Mac is the ability to create scheduled, incremental,  transferable, bootable backups (thanks to an amazing little  app called SuperDuper). This means that I can backup my MacBook Pro to an  external drive, plug that drive into any other intel Mac, boot from the  external, and have all of my files, applications, and settings ready to use at  full speed. This includes using my virtual PC created back on my MacBook Pro.  This means that if (G-d forbid) my MacBook's hard drive crashes, I can be  working as if nothing had happened off of my external on my (or anyone else's)  Mac. A truly robust design.]
With this setup, you can, at your own pace, slowly transition from your PC to your Mac, eventually only running the programs you absolutely have to in Windows (AutoCAD, MathCAD, etc). As Scott pointed out, spreadsheets on the Mac hit a bit of a snag with Office 2008 for Mac, which disabled VBA macros - but since you have access to your entire Microsoft Office suite in your virtual machine, you'll be fine until Office 2010 for Mac comes out (and includes VBA support).

Finally, keep in mind that excellent in-person support for your Mac, including the transition from your PC, is offered to any Apple customer via the Genius Bar <>  (for technical support), and One-to-One <>  (for training on how to migrate to and use a Mac).
Eugene Gordin, EIT
Doctoral Student
Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of California, Berkeley <>