Laptop Disk Drive Noises and Backup

I’ve got a 3 year old Sony laptop that has started to develop a noisy disk drive. It’s got me worried that it will crap out sometime in the near future. Here I am a software developer and I have no backup strategy in place. ;-(

I have a nice Dell laptop sitting here that I can switch over to at any time. Problem is, trying to get all of those applications over to a new machine, with all of their related registry data, various DLLs and other runtime files, etc. And many of these apps have been updated over the web so I don’t have a set of CDs for most of the stuff.

Question - I wish I could just “take everything off of my Sony laptop and move it over to the Dell laptop, and keep going with what I have”. Is this really possible? It sounds unlikely to me - there is a different version of Windows running on the Dell, and I have no idea how to selectively move the right things over.

The more general question is this: How do people deal with the issue of upgrading their computers from one box to another box, and not lose a lot of “stuff” from their old systems or spend endless hours moving stuff over manually?

Many thanks…

If you copy system files over you risk overwriting important system files on the other laptop which doesn’t use the same ones.

I just copy the data files to a cd & reinstall the program on the other computer & copy the data files to it. They have external cdwriters that connect to the parl port. I have one. You might find them for $50 or so at or computergeeks etc.