Setting-up Your New Computer: How To Move Your Old Files to Your New Computer

Apr 18 21:00 2004 Steven Presar Print This Article

You've got a new computer for your office. It's cleaner, better, faster and you can't wait to start to use ... your ... of making a fresh start with a new computer is tempered by the

You've got a new computer for your office. It's cleaner,Guest Posting better, faster and you can't wait to start to use it!

However, your satisfaction of making a fresh start with a new computer is tempered by the fact that all of your "stuff" is still on your old computer. Everything that made your old computer YOUR computer: your personal settings, your business files, your company spreadsheets are still loaded on your old computer.

You find yourself with a new computer that's not so great without a whole lot of the useful file information that is still stored on your old computer. How are you going to get all of that information onto your new computer?

The process is called "data migration" and it can be a tedious and time-consuming task for you and your business.

Here are some suggestions to make this data migration go a little easier for you.


One option is to copy ("burn") everything to recordable CDs.

Blank CDs are cheap, at about $1 apiece, and can hold more than 600 megabytes each. That much storage space should be enough for most small businessess to transfer old data files from one hard drive to a new.

Two drawbacks to the CD method of data transfer are that:

~ It may take a while to burn each CD and
~ That you may not have a recordable CD drive on your old PC.

Recordable CD units are standard on newer PCs but if older computers have a CD unit, it was insatlled as later add-on hardware feature. Thus, depending on the age of your older computer, it may not have a recordable CD drive installed at all. To install a recordable CD drive on your older computer now, may be more of a time-consuming effort when compared with other alternatives to moving your data files.

Portable Drives

Iomega has a pre-packaged solution designed to bridge the gap between old and new computers. They offer a software "moving kit" for individuals who have recently bought a new computer with Microsoft's Windows XP.

The software works with Iomega Zip, Jaz and Peerless drives. It allows individuals to "pack" the files they have on their old computer onto a portable high-capacity disks and then "unpack" the same files onto your new computer.

The transfer software uses Microsoft's "files & settings transfer wizard," a feature included in Windows XP.

After connecting a high-capacity drive to your old computer, you need to download the transfer tool, which primes a disk to prompt you to begin the transfer process the next time it is inserted into a drive. Setting up the disk also requires a CD with the Windows XP operating system.

Keep in mind, software moving kits, have the ability to move everything. Thus, if you are not aware of what files that you are transferring, you may be transferring unneeded problem or virus files to your new computer.

Link Transfers

There are other options if you do not want to shuffle CDs or portable drives.

With the link transfer software option your computers are linked through a serial cable or USB cable. After the software program has been installed on both of your computers (the "source" the old computer and "target" the new computer), you click through a question-and-answer wizard to describe what files you want to transfer. And for transfers on the fly, you can drag and drop folders or files between the two panes in the program representing each computer.

Some link transfer software packages that work with Microsoft's Windows are: PCsync, IntelliMover, PC Relocator, and PC Upgrade Commander.

In each case, the software must be installed on both your old and new computers. The software scans your old computer hard drive, to inventory the folders, subfolder, and files and then you select the data files that you would like to transfer to your new computer.

It sounds like a fairly simple way to handle your data transfer. However, be aware:

~ Generally, these programs want to move all the contents of your old computer to your new computer. That's OK for your data files but moving the program files that run your applications may cause problems because older applications may not be supported by your new computer operating system. Transferring a Windows 95-era program to a computer preloaded with the Windows XP operating system could be a problem because many of those programs haven't been upgraded to run under Windows XP.

~ When you move the full contents of a computer system, everything moves over, including those obscure files that had your old computer running sluggish in its final days.

~ Moving data through a USB cable isn't fast, but it is faster than data transfer through a parallel port.

Choosing a Data Migration Software Package

~ Does the software allow you to pick and choose which files are moved, or does it move EVERYTHING -- even the junk files?

~ How is the data transferred? A wireless network is faster than a USB cable, which is faster than a USB cable, which is faster than a parallel cable. Are you prepared to wait hours or even days for this transfer to take place?

~ If you're using the Internet as a holding place for your data, check your connection and upload speeds. It could take hours to move those files.

~ Consider investing in a high-capacity external hard drive, a plug-and-play device that you'll simply connect to your new computer. The drive, though more expensive, will get far more use than one-time migration software.

Getting Ready for Your Data Migration

~ Get rid of all of your old files. Fill your recycle bin on your old computer with as much as you can. There's nothing worse than bringing useless data to the new computer.

~ Make a software checklist. Is your versions of current program applications compatible with Windows XP? Look on the Web for free Windows XP upgrades to new versions of the programs you need, such as your Palm desktop software.

~ Does your new computer have preloaded software on it? Chances are good the latest Internet browser is already pre-load on your new computer and thus you do not have to transfer the older browser version.

~ Make a list of user names and passwords that are stored in files on your old computer and automatically appear when you visit Web sites. They could be lost in the move, denying you access on your new computer.

Copyright Steven Presar

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Steven Presar
Steven Presar

Steven Presar is a recognized small business technology coach, Internet publisher, author, speaker, and trainer. He provides personal, home, and computer security solutions at He provides business software reviews at In addition, he publishes articles for starting and running a small business at Be sure to sign-up for the SOHO newsletter at the site.

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