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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, December 24, 2002

Transferring files a task many simply avoid

By Jane Larson
Arizona Republic

When Alec Gefrides' father bought a new computer and wanted help transferring his files and settings from his old computer to the new, Gefrides jumped at the chance.

The Intel Corp. manager wanted to know what ordinary folk without big-company resources went through.

After hours of copying disks and settings while the rest of the house slept, Gefrides knew the industry had to do something about migration.

Gefrides leads an industrywide group that includes big names such as Microsoft Corp. and Symantec Corp., along with young companies that have sprung up with software and devices to help migrate data to new computers.

Intel research found that up to 40 percent of people are delaying computer purchases in part because they dread shifting things they want from their old PC to a new one. They also worry about how to leave viruses and other problems behind.

Research also found that of people who did buy a computer, about one-third didn't even attempt to migrate the files, Gefrides said. Frequently, those were the users who gave their kids their old PC and simply reloaded the family games on it.

Another one-third did a "parallel" migration, transferring files as they needed and running both their computers for up to six months.

The final one-third spent up to three days diligently picking through their files and loading them on their new machine. Only a fraction of those used a network to zap files between machines.

What surprised Gefrides and his work-group colleagues was that so few users know that more than a dozen hardware and software products have come out in the past three years to make migration easier.

"The biggest 'a-ha' for us was the 'a-ha' the user got when we showed them a package that does this," he said, recalling how focus group members clutched at the boxes like lifelines. "It was, 'Omigosh, there is something like that?' "

That made the work group's first goal to raise awareness of, and trust in, migration software and hardware. The group won't recommend one product over another but notes that there are plenty of choices.

The next step for the group is setting standards, or best practices, that would tell developers how to write applications to make their data and settings easier to migrate.