How to transfer files and programs from one computer to another

by on November 23, 2008

Q: I would like to transfer programs and files from one old computer to a new computer. How might I do this? Do I need the original program disks?

A: Transferring data & files requires some planning, but is usually easy to accomplish. Make a checklist of the programs that you use on your old computer, and then locate all of the data & files you have created in those programs. Be sure to remember your address book contacts, internet favorites, etc. Many of your files will be located in your user folder (called My Documents in Windows XP). You may need to manually export data from programs such as QuickBooks and Quicken, and you may wish to deactivate subscriptions on your old computer to services such as Apple’s iTunes Store.

To transfer data & files from your old computer to your new computer, you should use tools such as CD-Rs, USB flash drives, or external hard drives.

Regarding programs… You will need either original installation discs and/or access to downloads from official websites to install programs on your new computer. Furthermore, some programs will require activation codes.

Most copies of Microsoft Windows include programs such as Internet Explorer, Outlook Express or Windows Mail, and Windows Media Player. These programs will already exist on your new computer.

Many free programs can be downloaded from official websites and used on as many computers as you wish. Some popular programs in this category include Adobe Reader, iTunes, and Windows Live Messenger.

Many of the programs that came with your old computer actually cost money, but were purchased on your behalf by the computer’s manufacturer. And obviously, software that you purchased also cost money. Most programs that cost money cannot legally be used on multiple computers. There are some exceptions to this rule, including some security software and a couple versions of Microsoft Office.

As I mentioned earlier, some programs will only work properly after you have entered the required activation codes. You may not have discs for such programs, but some of the companies whose programs requires activation codes will allow you to download trial versions of their software. For example, trial versions are available for Microsoft Office, Norton 360, Kaspersky Internet Security, and many more programs. To transform such programs from trial versions to full versions, you will need to use the activation codes that were included with your discs. If you’ve lost your activation codes, you won’t be able to unlock the trails.

I urge you to consider free/inexpensive alternatives to many popular programs. For example, you can use OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office on your new computer. OpenOffice is free, and can be run on as many computers as you wish. OpenOffice is available in downloadable form, as well as on disc.

Tip: Keep all of the discs that come with your new computer, and obtain installation discs for your programs and Windows operating system whenever possible.

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