transferring data to a new computer

Transferring to a new computer

Posted on 6th November 2015 by Alex Innard

If you’ve bought a new computer or laptop, you will more than likely wonder how to get your all-important files, settings and pictures of the dog transferred from the old system to the new one without any data loss. This task can seem daunting, especially if you’re a computer novice or not completely organised.

Using a file transfer tool

There are many readily-available utilities for automatically moving your data to your new computer. These will make use of an existing wireless or wired network OR a suitably sized portable USB hard drive.

You will have to reinstall the programs you use onto your new computer as unfortunately these are not transferrable using this method. Popular tools you can use are:

Windows Easy Transfer:

Microsoft offers their own tool, known as “Windows Easy Transfer.” It’s built into Windows. The tool is built into Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. Launch it by tapping the Windows key to open the Start menu or Start screen, typing “Easy Transfer” without the quotes to search for it, and pressing Enter. If you’re upgrading from Windows Vista or XP, you can download the Windows Easy Transfer tool from Microsoft’s website.

Mac Migration Assistant:

Apple offers a Migration Assistant tool built into Mac OS X, which can help you migrate from an older Mac to a newer Mac. It can also help you migrate from a Windows PC to a Mac. Download the Windows Migration Assistant from Apple to get started or launch the Migration Assistant tool included on your Mac. (Press Command+Space, type Migration, and press Enter to open the Migration Assistant application.)

There are other free third party tools you can use too. Such as TransWiz from ForensiT.

Using a backup and restore tool

You should be regularly backing up your files. Assuming you are, you could just perform one final backup of your old computer and a restore the files from that backup onto your new computer.

Most external hard drives available on the market today ship with bundled backup software for free. You could use this free software to perform the steps described above.

For Macs, you can perform this task using a portable hard drive and the “Time Machine” backup application available on all Mac devices.

Just copy the files

This solution works for basic file transfers, but not usually settings. A sufficiently large external hard drive can be connected to your old computer to drag and drop (copy and paste) all your files on to. This hard drive can then be connected to the new computer and the files copied to their new location(s). This method works best if you know where all of your files are located on your old computer and keep an organised folder structure.

Modern web browsers such as Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox have built-in sync features that automatically transfer your bookmarks, history and saved login details to a new computer once you login to the browser application with your Google or Mozilla account.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive work well for the task of transferring files. Install the client on your old computer and drop your files into it. Log in to that same account on your new computer and it will download the files from the cloud servers. Windows 8.1 has OneDrive integration — Microsoft wants you to store your files in OneDrive so they’ll be accessible on all your PCs without all the file-transferring effort, but you could also use a different service.

Alex Innard
Alex is a third line IT engineer and works at Apograph Ltd which owns Computer Support Northampton. He has extensive experience in the IT industry and believes in doing things properly.
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