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Moving all you need

Question : I need to move my old files to a new PC. How can I be sure that I get everything I need ?

Answer : Microsoft provides some help with this chore, but not enough.

Its contribution is Windows Vista's Windows Easy Transfer utility, a much more capable tool than Windows XP's Files and settings Transfer Wizard. It can automatically move all of your documents, pictures, music and video -- plus settings for such programs as Internet explorer, Outlook express and windows Media Player -- from a PC running XP to one running Vista.

But Easy Transfer's default settings leave behind data created by some non-Microsoft programs. For instance, it will strand bookmarks and other preferences for the Firefox browser.

You can tweak Easy Trasfer to grab these items -- a laborious process involving changing Windows settings that make some crucial folders invisible, then adding them to Easy Transfer's workload.

But most people who can manage all that probably know the insides of Windows well enough to move over data "by hand," copying files to an external drive and then moving them to the new system.

For users less versed in Windows maintenance, the less painful option is to buy a third-party data-migration utility such as LapLink's PCmover or Detto's IntelliMover. These programs automate much more of the process than Micosoft's Easy Transfer.

PCmover, along with a beta Microsoft program called Windows Easy Transfer Companion, can also move applications from one PC to another, but I don't recommend that. It involves a little too much tinkering with system innards for my taste, and it also risks leaving you with out-of-date copies of your programs. Instead, download their latest versions and install those.


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