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TRANSFERRING DATA FROM AN OLD COMPUTER TO A NEW ONE

I have been asked the following question many times: How do I transfer my stuff from my old computer to the new one and then remove all of my personal stuff off the old one?

The easiest way is to buy the new computer from a store that will do the transfer for you. If you just but the computer and want to DIY- plow on.

First you need to analyze what needs to be transferred and what can actually be transferred. There are programs available to do it for you. Just search the web for transferring "from XXX to XXX". Mostly now it would be from XP, 7, or 8 to 10.

You need to understand that you cannot transfer programs*. Only data. Programs must be reinstalled in the new computer using the original program CD's. In many cases, your old computer may have had programs supplied as pre-installed software and you don’t have separate CD’s. You new computer may not have the same programs and you may have to purchase new software. Examples are Microsoft Word, Hallmark Creatacard & Printmaster. Also many programs no longer work on newer computers. Consider keeping the old computer just to run that software.
*Exception: You can clone an old hard drive to a new one when installing on the same computer. This does not work for upgrading. If you buy a new drive, you get the clone software.

Now consider what can be transferred. This is a list of possible data to be needed on the new computer and the method of transfer.

These items can be copied to disk or transferred directly to the same location on the new computer:

  1. All documents in the My Documents folder. (You may need to do this for each user if you have more than one. Also some programs place documents in other folders. geneology programs are notorius for this.
  2. All pictures in the My Pictures folder. (Note that you may have pictures in other folders due to scanning or camera programs choosing other locations)
  3. All added non-standard Windows elements; fonts, cursors, wallpaper, favorites
  4. Downloaded files. Keep only those that can be used on the new computer. Most programs will need newer downloads anyway.
  5. Files from specialty programs like labels, greeting cards, etc. that store files in locations other than My Documents.

These items cannot be transferred directly:

  1. E-mail settings, messages and address book. If you use AOL, MSN, Yahoo, Hotmail or other online e-mail, you will not need to transfer these. They reside on the Internet, not in your Computer. If you use Netscape, Outlook or Outlook Express, you need to “Export” the messages and addresses. Copy down settings to enter them in the new computer. To see the current settings in Outlook Express, open the program and click on tools, accounts. Select the account and click Properties. Write down all pertinent information or use Print Screen and paste each page into a word document and print them out for reference in setting up the new computer. If you have multiple e-mail accounts, do this for each one. I will not discuss Netscape here, but the process is similar.
  2. Data files from MS Money, Quicken, Family Tree Maker or other financial or genealogy programs. These need to use the program’s built in backup program command and saved to floppy for “Restore” in the new computer after the program has been reinstalled.
  3. Game scores. Forget it. Start over.
  4. Windows Address book. (Look for a .wab file)

  5. Juno address book and messages. For these, copy the entire Juno folder or at least the "User000x" folders.

Items that do not need to be or cannot be transferred include:
Address book in any on line email program.
Standard Windows elements like sounds, fonts, cursors, wallpaper and Customized Windows settings although you may want some older fonts that are not included in the new Windows.

Use the chart at the end of this discussion as a checklist

Once you decide what needs to be transferred, the question is how to do it.

Methods available are 1) Direct transfer, 2) Jump drive), 3) external drive

Most Windows come with a transfer utility. You can connect both computers with a special USB cable (both ends identical) and transfer directly. This requires you to have both computers running.

If you don't have or want to buy the special cable needed to do the direct transfer, you can just save the data on the old computer on a jump drive or other USB drive and then just copy them into the new computer.

CDs and DVDs do not hold the amount of data we are saving today so they are no longer considered here.

After you have saved and transferred all the data and are convinced you no longer need the old computer, you can clean off the old computer a couple of ways. The easiest way is if you have a restore/recovery CD that came with it originally, just restore it to factory specs and all your data and personal information is destroyed.

CAUTION:

BEFORE YOU WIPE OUT THE OLD COMPUTER, BE SURE YOU HAVE THE CD KEY NUMBER IF YOU ARE REINSTALLING THE SAME VERSION.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THIS NUMBER THE COMPUTER MAY BECOME UNUSABLE.

If you don't have the number, follow the instructions below to get it before you start.

YOU CAN GET THE CD KEY NUMBER FROM THE REGISTRY. Go to www.barrett.net/regedit.html to learn how to access the registry. Then access this key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, SOFTWARE, MICROSOFT, WINDOWS,CURRENT VERSION and highlight CURRENT VERSION. The CD key should be listed. There may be 2 numbers. If there is a 25 digit number in 5 segments of 5 each, that is the one to note.

An easier way is to download belarc advisor from www.belarc.com. Run it & it will list all your registration numbers. Save it and print it.

If you don't have the recovery CD, then you need to format the drive and either leave it blank or reinstall a version of Windows if you have the CD.

If this is not the case, then you need to uninstall any personal programs (genealogy, financial, etc.) using the Add/remove in Control Panel. Then delete all documents. Remove all references to your name in the registry and clean up all temporary files and delete all history. Then you need to remove any personal data in your e-mail program and Internet Explorer. You might want to search the hard drive for any file extensions that can carry personal information such as .doc, .jpg, .pst, .pwl. Also search for any personal or company name(s) that may be in the computer and delete them. Formatting the drive wipes this too.

Sound like a big job? It is. Print out the chart below & look at all programs you use to determine if any data should be saved.

Item on old machine

Location
or program

Method to save

Notes
(how saved)

Documents

My Documents

Direct

Pictures

My Pictures

Direct

Downloaded files

Downloads?

Direct

fonts, cursors

Windows

Direct

sounds, wallpaper

Windows

Direct

screensavers

Windows

Direct

Address Book

OE or Windows

copy wab, export OE

e-mail settings

e-mail messages

export

greeting cards

Direct?

labels

Direct?

business cards

Direct?

Juno folder

c:\Program Files

Direct
Financial files backup from program

Genealogy

backup from program

       
       
       

 

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