Transfering data from old PC to new one - best way?

As some of you may know I’ve just purchased a new PC which is winging its way to me now (10-12 workings days for delivery - sigh). One of the things I will need to do is transfer some of my files from my old PC to the new one, mainly documents, music and photos (I’m not moving programs, they can all be re-downloaded easily enough). The amount of data I’m moving comes to about 22GB - I don’t have a flashdrive/external hard drive that holds that and I don’t particularly want to buy one for this operation. My ideas on how to move everything so far are as follows, and I’d appreciate advice on which ones will work and which are the best ideas:

  1. Connect the old PC to the new PC via USB cable and simply drag and drop across. I don’t know if this is possible, but can’t see why not. The only drawback is when I say I’m buying a new PC that’s all I’m getting, no peripherals. It will be tricky to do an operation like this with no monitor/keyboard/mouse on the new PC (although I could always borrow one from my mum’s company if need be, it’s only for one weekend after all).

  2. Same as 1 but use my mum’s laptop as an intermediary. Cuts out the lack of peripherals issue.

  3. Put the stuff onto DVD - the drawback being that DVDs hold about 4.7GB which requires quite a few of them.

  4. Get an online storage account and move everything into there, then move everything back out again onto the new PC when it’s hooked up. I’ve found a site that gives unlimited storage free for 14 days which is all I need, the downside being that the transfer limit is capped by my internet connection speed (which will be slower than a USB connection). Also I don’t know if I’ll need to move each file individually, if so that will be a very labour intensive process, in both directions.

  5. Take the HD out of my old PC and put it into my new one and move everything across like that. Possibly the most straightforward but then you have to bugger about with settings and partitions and the like and I don’t know how to do that.

So that’s all I got. Point the way oh tech savvy dopers. Thanks! :slight_smile:

After you get your new PC up and running, remove the hard drive from the old one, pop it in the new one, and copy anything you need over. Even if it’s old enough to be an IDE drive, you should still be able to plug it into a new comp.
Why would you have to mess with partitions or settings? Just pop the drive in and your new comp should recognize it when it boots up. Open My computer, browse the old drive, and drag whatever you want to a spot on the new drive.

Yeah, assuming you’re talking about two desktop computers in here, the new one should have plenty of space to put in a second hard drive and simply drag your files across, as Apocalypso suggested.

If that doesn’t work, i’d suggest going the USB flash drive route. I know you said you don’t want to buy a new drive just for this procedure, but you can get a 4Gb drive for less than 10 bucks now. It would only take you 6 “trips” to transfer all your data on one of those.

Razorette and I use a USB bridge cable to backup each other’s laptops. Last time we did it, we transferred 32GB in less than a half-hour. It’s good for data only; programs all have to be re-installed.

If the old drive is an IDE it will not work in a system where the motherbaord drive interface is SATA without adapters.

Dragging and dropping with a USB bridge cable requires a specially wired interface cable and (IIRC) software which will cost around $20-$30 or so at retail.

If you are using a wired or wireless router in your house most have a network hub built into them. Simply connect both PCs to the hub and set the permissions on each to “share” their drives and transfer files using windows explorer and regular Ethernet cables.

Do you not have a backup of the data somewhere? If so, just update it, then restore/copy that to the new computer. If not, this would be a perfect opportunity to get an external hard drive for data backup.

Alternatively, if you’re not going to use the old computer, get a USB hard drive enclosure and install your old hard drive in it. Connect it to the new computer, copy the data, then continue to use this drive as your backup drive.

Another vote for Ethernet. If you don’t have a hub or router then a crossover cable is only $15 or so.

Or what the heck, 22 / 4.75 = 5 DVDs and you’re done. That costs less than $3 in my end of the world. Plus you’ll be left with a backup of all your data.

Last time I was in the market for a PC I asked the sales guy if they would transfer my data for me vis a vis their service department. For free of course.

They did it for me. Talk about hassle free!

I have a 16GB flash drive on its way to me right now that’s costing me fifteen bucks after the twenty buck rebate. Flash drives are great for moving stuff, and they last forever, pretty much. This is probably the cheapest, easiest solution assuming you can’t just mount the old HDD into the new box, of course. The flash drive is also more all-round useful than the bridge cable, IMO.

Get yourself a USB drive. You’ll need one anyway for backing up your new PC. You are going to back it up, aren’t you?

Sorry Quartz, I’m still in the dark ages when it comes to backing up data (i.e. I don’t).

The new drive is a SATA and the old one is IDE so that’s not going to work, and I thought a simple USB cable would be enough to transfer everything but clearly not. In that case I’ll just put it all on DVD, and as pointed out that serves as a back up should the worst happen.

I actually realised after I’d logged off that I kind of do have a 32GB flashdrive in the form of my MP3 player which is a Zen and can function as a hard drive. It’s got enough space for me to put everything on it and transfer it that way, but again I like the DVD idea as it means there’s a separate copy of everything.

Thanks again everyone.

The new computer may still have an IDE controller, even if the hard drive that came with it is SATA, because IDE optical drives are still common. You may need to unplug the optical drive to connect the old drive, if the cable has only one connector on it. A direct connection like this will give you the best transfer rate, and everything probably will see the old drive automatically.
Buying a USB drive enclosure to use the old drive for future backups sounds like a good idea, if you don’t need the old computer to still function.
(I don’t do scheduled backups, but I do have a network drive that I occasionally use to back up my music and photos. I keep it physically turned off when I’m not using it.)

This is what I did. My new computer has SATA HDs and my old has IDE. But, my new computer does have IDE dvd burners. So I took the IDE cable out of my old computer, attached both HD’s, set one to master and one to slave, plugged it in to my optical drive slot, ran some power to the HDs, and booted her up. It recognized all HDs and file transfers were a breeze.

Once I was done, I just put everything back. FWIW, I didn’t even mount my old HDs to anything. I just set them on the shelf next to my tower.

And he can even use the older IDE cable if his new one does not have the slave position and just keep his old drive in the new case. I have done that with it standing on edge in the bottom of the case the power connector secured so it would not fall over with normal picking up and moving of the tower.

Murphy visits my house on a regular basis so I am not one of the people who have never had a hard drive failure. I keep everything backed up. Lots of free hard drives out there from 10 - 40 GIG that folks just throw away.

Free is my kind of deal. :smiley:

If your new machine is coming with Vista installed, then the Windows Easy Transfer is surprisingly decent. If you can beg/steal/borrow an ethernet hub and a couple of network cables, or an external hard drive, it should make the whole thing very easy. An external HD is always handy for backups anyhow.

Are most of the files you need to copy over, text (or similar) files, or binaries?

If binaries, nevermind…

If text (plain text, Word, PowerPoint, mail messages…) – before putting everything on a DVD or 5, use an archiving/compression program on the data first; you’ll be surprised how well mostly-textual files can be compressed. Potentially as much as obviating the need for multiple DVDs!

I’m pretty sure XP and Vista both have a build-in comporession tool; you can use winrar; and there are many other available tools out there.

It’s a good idea for archiving (read “making backups”) anyway.

External USB hard drives are common, cheap and reliable. I’d strongly suggest you get one and use it for this transfer. When that’s done, it becomes your backup device (at which role it excels).

yep, it worked like a charm when I migrated from an XP to a Vista tablet.

I’d go with a combination of things here. Use the software as described above by slaphead, and save the USMT3 folder it creates to your hard drive. Then put the “old drive” into the “new computer” and do your transfer onto the new PC. Point the program to the “old drive” and off you go.

Easy as pie, honestly.

If you feel like pushing the complexity needle up to about 4.2, you could get an empty USB enclosure and stick the old hard disk in that. Voila, an external hard disk for $20 or less.