Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How to Upgrade to a New Computer -- When All You Have Left Is the Hard Drive

You know what that could mean ...

We all know our computers aren't going to last forever -- well ... they aren't, you know! -- and at some point we will have to actually buy a new machine and somehow see to it that all of our data, our documents, photos, spreadsheets,  Quicken files, all that stuff, will get onto that new computer. Some of us may even know some way to do that. Some of us will copy stuff to USB Flash Drives, and some will copy data over a network, but how will we get our programs, our logins and passwords, our license info, all of our browser cookies, you know, all of the stuff that makes our computers OUR Computers?

Windows Easy Transfer which is free from Microsoft, and which you already have on your Vista and later computer (and which you can get at the link for WET above for XP) will copy non-binary data, files and photos and that stuff, even some passwords, logins and cookies, but it will not move your programs and license info over. That's not the worst thing in the world, if you have all of your install disks, CDs and DVDs, with Product Keys and Serial Numbers. You can just reinstall the programs, Microsoft Office, Quicken, Photoshop, and all of that stuff.

But what if you don't have those install disks? And even worse, what if you don't have a working computer to copy the data from? What if the only thing you have left is a -- hopefully -- working drive from an old dead computer?

Well I have a Program For You that only costs 40 bucks, and will save your bacon.

Laplink Software makes a series of programs called PC Mover, amongst which is a version called PC Mover Image Assistant. With Image Assistant you can copy all of the Programs, Personal Info, Data, Logins, Passwords and whatever else you want and Image Assistant will install them onto your new computer just as if you yourself had installed them onto your new machine. And there are other versions of PC Mover that will upgrade you from a live and working PC or in place, say, from Vista 32 to Win 7 64, which just upgrading Windows will NOT allow you to do.

There are just a couple of catches. First,  for Image Assistant you have to be able to physically connect the old drive to the new computer, which may mean physically removing it from the old machine and connecting it to the new one. So you have to know how to open up a computer and you have to be comfortable disconnecting and reconnecting the data and power cables to the drive. Are you?

You are!!! Great. (You are not -- see PS)

The 2nd catch is that you have to know what you want to move from the old computer to the new computer -- it sounds simple I know, but you'd be surprised how much stuff Image Assistant will offer to move for you. One word of advice -- only copy what you know you want and need. You can always come back later for something you missed, and you certainly don't want to copy stuff that will get in the way of machine-specific programs already on the new computer!

Of course, if your computer has died and your hard drive has, too, I know you are STILL OK ... because, you've backed up your computer to a mirror. I am sure you have. Yes???

Great! You can use PC Mover on that.


PS You do not know how to open up your computer or how to disconnect and reconnect cables. Sad. OK, stay tuned. The next article will discuss just that. Check back next week.

PPS If you just have an archive backup and not a mirror backup, you can restore your data to a new and different machine, but not your programs, your system files, or your registry. Make a mirror backup.

Photo Credit: learnoutlive.com

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