I Just Got a New Computer

by DanB

It’s daunting. You buy a new computer but all your files are over on the old machine. What to do?

We have all been there. And I am writing this quick note because five people called me this week asking how to get things off the old machine and on to the new. I gave them all the same advice and I’m sharing it with you here.

My primary advice is to take this opportunity to begin from scratch.

First install all your programs fresh on the new computer. This cleans up things you no longer use and general gives a smother running system. Only install programs as you use them. We all end up with extra programs installed that we never use. By only installing them as you use them you system will remain clean and fast longer.

Second don’t bother trying to transfer all of your files. Instead purchase an external hard drive enclosure. You can get these for both desktop and laptop drives. Take the drive out of your old computer, put it in the drive enclosure, and plug it in via USB. Voila! Instant nirvana. All of your files are now available to your new system. When you need a file off the drive copy, don’t move, the file to y new system. This lets that drive function as a backup as well as file holder.

  Click here to see these enclosures on Amazon.com.

I personally label the drives enclosures with my Brother labeling machine. They stack neatly on the shelf and I can instantly get to any data I need even months later. You do have a Brother labeler right? They are way cool and once you have one you will use it all the time.

Click here for Brother Labelers at Amazon.com

Next if you heavily customize your programs, meaning change a lot of options in Word or Excel or other programs open the options panel in the program and make a screen recording of you clicking through various options. I told you about Jing a while ago. Make a Jing video of you clicking through the options of the programs you use the most. Let Jing upload the video to Screencast account – free with Jing which is also free. On the new system you can play the video, see which options to update, and have things back to where you want them to be very quickly. The best thing is once you make the video you can use it to configure any system you use.

So there it is. My preferred way to move to a new computer:

  • Use Jing to record your changes to options
  • Install all programs fresh
  • Only install programs as you use them
  • Put the old drive in a hard drive enclosure
  • Only pull files off the old drive as you need them

Try this system and I think you will find it is a fast way to get up and running with a new computer system.

  • Bluechips

    Using the Windows Easy Transfer program (‘app’ for younger readers) leaves your data intact and does an excellent job copying all data AND settings. Can be used from XP through Win 8 and through a network (computer-to-computer) or a sneaker-net style writing out to a file on an external USB drive, a flash drive (depending on size) or a network drive, and ‘importing’ it to the new machine from the external USB the flash drive or from the NAS or other network drive. (Win8 requires the later method except for Win8 to Win8.) Then enclosure it up, label and shelve it.

  • IT Owl

    Like you I have always used the hard drive enclosure method for accessing old data on a new computer. And removing all hard drives from an old computer is essential before scrapping the computer. Remove the hard drives, check there is nothing in the DVD/CD and floppy drives (remember them?), and you can scrap the rest with confidence. I guess there is no sensitive personal data in the BIOS.

  • Baron

    The hard drive enclosure method works well for desktop computer use, but if you’re using a laptop with a docking station, you need to have those files physically on your laptop’s hard drive. On my laptops, I always partition my hard drive and keep all my data, photos, videos, etc., on the logical partition. Then, I can copy the whole partition onto a USB drive from my old laptop, and then recopy that to a similar logical partition on my new laptop. Even if the old laptop is running WinXP and doesn’t support USB 3.0, it’s still just two launch-and-leave processes, neither taking all that much time. It makes daily data backups that much easier, as well.

Previous post:

Next post: