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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Organize your switch to new PC

By Kim Komando

The excitement of getting a new computer running Microsoft Windows XP quickly fades once you realize the volume of important files saved on your old computer.

Fortunately, there are several ways to transfer data, programs and settings. But give yourself plenty of time. No method is hassle-free.

Start by removing from your old computer programs that you never use. The same goes for junk files. For this task, use Windows Disk Cleanup. Click Start, Programs, Accessories and then Disk Cleanup. You don't want to fill your new computer with trash.

Do a thorough scan of your old computer's hard drive for viruses, Trojans and adware. Defrag your old hard drive, too. When you're done, disconnect it from the Internet and disable any programs running in the background. This may include instant messaging and security programs, such as your anti-virus software and firewall.

Perhaps the easiest way to transfer information from an old computer to a new one is by using your existing home network. You put both computers on the network, share each of the computer's hard drives and copy files to and fro.

Better yet, use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard found in Windows XP. It transfers data and Windows settings, such as wallpaper, colors, sounds, mail and contacts for Outlook and Outlook Express, Internet bookmarks and security settings. It does not transfer programs, though.

To start the wizard, click the Start button, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, then Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. You'll be prompted either to create a Wizard Disk on a floppy or to use the Wizard found on your Windows XP CD. Follow the instructions and take the floppy or Windows XP CD to the old computer.

The wizard walks you through the entire process. You can transfer settings, data and folders. You'll have to reinstall programs, such as Microsoft Word, onto your new computer, using the programs' installation disks.

If you don't have a home network, you can connect the two computers with Ethernet crossover cables or Universal Serial Bus cables. You could also use a parallel or serial cable, but data transfer would be much slower.

In most cases, you'll need

a third-party program to go along with the cables. The best-known program for migrating data is Alohabob PC Relocator Ultra Control (www.eisenworld.com, $69.95). It includes a USB cable to connect the two computers. Alohabob transfers programs, in addition to data, files and Windows settings.

Move Me (www.spearit.com, $39.95) also handles a full move. IntelliMover (www.detto.com/intellimover, $49.95) and Desktop DNA Professional (ca.miramar.com, $39) move data and settings but will not transfer programs. IntelliMover includes cables.

Transferring programs is problematic. Programs install small parts of themselves throughout the Windows operating system. If one file is not copied, the program may run improperly or not at all. So it's best to reinstall programs on the new system, rather than copy them over.

If all of this sounds daunting, take it to a shop. Expect to pay less than $100. Some technicians will come to your home and transfer everything. But that will be more expensive.