How do I move stuff to a new computer?

I have an old computer and am thinking seriously about getting a new one; but, how do I move all the stuff I have on this one to a new hard drive?

Well, the easiest way is to simple to take the old hard drive out of your old computer, and install it as a slave drive in the new one.

Note, when you do this you have to adjust the jumpers on the back of your new computer’s drive to set it to master(there should be a diagram on the drive) and set the jumpers on the back of old drive to slave, plug the drive into the IDE cable and power, and turn the machine on.

The 2nd easiest way is to connect the two via ethernet. I’d offer suggestions, but there’s a thousand ways to do this depending on what hardware you have.

Go with the first way.

The easy-peasy Macintosh Way:

  1. Connect both computers with a Firewire (IEEE 1394) cable.
  2. Boot up one computer, and hold down the “T” key. This boots it into Firewire disk mode, where it becomes an external disk drive.
  3. Boot up the second computer. The drive in the first computer will be available like any other.
  4. Drag 'n copy to your heart’s content.

If you’re going to get rid of the old one alongwith the hard drive, hopefully, you have a CD writer. If you do, archive all your data (not programs) onto CDs. Then, just recopy that over to the new drive.

Just a tip: If you want to take the hard drive from the old computer and put it into the new one, it’s worth having one of these fitted to the new machine. They hardly cost anything at all, and in addition to being able to transfer all your old data, you have a handy portable hard drive.

If the new computer has XP, it has tools to do this for you.

For me I just write to cd or dvd those files I want on the new computer.

On a side note, switching to a new computer is a bit like moving to a new house. It gives you a chance to think about what stuff you really need to move, and what stuff you can ditch. Instead of blindly copying all your files to the new PC, use the move as an opportunity to clear out some useless clutter. (Hint: if you haven’t used a file in over a year, you probably never will!)

At work we always put the old drive in the new PC (setting jumpers to slave) and copy everything to a folder called ‘olddrive’ on the new PC. Replace the drive in the old PC after resetting the jumpers. To clean up the old PC, just reformat the the old drive and re-install.

Since we usually re-allocate the old PCs at work, we use Norton’s Ghost to put a standard image on the old drive, overwriting all that was there. (The image, of course, is on a third drive that we put in the old PC temporarily.)

What about programs like firewalls, anti-virus, and all those useful utilities. Even if you do intall your old hard drive, how do you get them to work so that they recognize the new hard drive as their primary target?

There’s no easy way to do that. Essentially, you need to reinstall all the software that you want to continue using.

If you bought the software, you should have kept the installation disks. If you downloaded it from the web, didn’t you keep the exe setup file somewhere just in case?

If you er… borrowed… somebody else’s installation disk then I don’t think we’re allowed to discuss that here…

"What about programs like firewalls, anti-virus, and all those useful utilities. "

You can use a program that remaps the registry to let it know where everything is. Better to reinstall. has programs you can use to do the transfer.

Do you have a backup utility program? You really should get one, if you dont, you could lose your data to disk failure, fire or burglary.

To transfer data betwen computers, use the backup utility to save your data to disk, then install the utility on the new computer, and restore from the backups. The utility might even allow you to make self extracting backup files, that dont require the utility to restore. It can also do clever stuff like saving your saved mesages in your email accounts.

If for some really strange reason, you want everything on your old HD on your new computer, set up just the same as before, then you need partition copying software. The maker of the new PC’s HD will have the utils available on its web site. You can also use Partition Magic and a host of other commercial programs.

Install the old drive as a slave in the new PC as above, copy the partition, resize it to fill the new disk (or however your like). Tada, a complete copy, warts and all. You can take the old drive out then.

This is what I actually do, but then I am quite careful about installing stuff on my computers and keeping things cleaned up. I don’t have that many warts to worry about. The average PC “user”, OTOH, has an awful mess on their HDs. Better for them to start over.

Yes, I was mainly concerned about programs that were downloaded. Given the way downloaded programs seem to perform some magic before going to the installation I wasn’t sure whether all the .dll’s and registry changes would be made just by redoing setup.exe. From reading this, it appears that I don’t need to worry.

Haven’t bought the new computer yet, but I was amused and horrified by the way the eyes of the salesman in the Gateway store went totally blank when I popped this question on him. (Not that I planned seriously to buy from Gateway, but they were a good place to check for prices before going to the good local store that will build a computer that I want from scratch.)

If you haven’t bought it yet you should check the deals on or You can get a pretty decent system for $350.00 The other day there was a dell 2.2ghz for $200 after two rebates, free shipping. Deals change hourly.

Rjung, Is that really how easy it is on a Mac?
I’ve been waiting weeks for a guy to come do it for me.

Ibook to a G4 tower. I just want to move my photo files.

Where can I get this cable, is it hard to come by?

Will it be self evident where to plug it into each machine?

Yes, but are they trustworthy?

Starburst Technologies has similar prices and I’ve delt with them before.

You should be able to get a Firewire cable any place that sells computers, and the Firewire connector isn’t the same shape as anything else, so there’s only one place you can plug it in. No worries.