New computer, old files
August 15, 2005 10:16 PM   Subscribe

At long last, I am buying a new PC for my home use. I was hoping for suggestions for the best way to migrate files from Ol' Clunky to the new machine.

In my current setup I have two mostly full 40 GB drives. The new machine will have one 160 GB drive preinstalled, and I plan to pop one of the 40's in as well - for the homies, obviously. (Or possibly both? Anyone know the casing layout of a Dell 9100?)

The new drive is likely to be substantially faster than either of the old ones, so I would prefer to keep it as the boot drive. Does anyone have any advice on the best and simplest way to go about this? Is there any recommended software to ease the process along? It would be nice to migrate the apps without needing to reinstall (going from XP home to XP Media Center), but not essential.
posted by John Smallberries to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
I believe Windows XP has its own new PC migration BS, but I've never used it.

Easiest thing would be to hook 'em up to a home network or use a crossover cable and use Windows filesharing to move files around. Are you planning on keeping the old PC?
posted by angry modem at 10:22 PM on August 15, 2005

If you already know you're opening the case, I'd just chuck each drive in as a slave and copy the whole directory structure of your old drives (sans Windows and Program Files directories and pagefile.sys) over into the new drive. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I don't think you'll be able to get away without reinstalling your apps though.
posted by pompomtom at 10:33 PM on August 15, 2005

As tom says, possibly the most important thing you can do if you'll be copying over program settings and the like is the install a fresh copy of each program first. If you don't you can run into some crazy problems, especially due to missing registry entries.
posted by awesomebrad at 11:38 PM on August 15, 2005

There is a files and settings migration wizard on XP, but I've never used it. It mostly deals with settings and My Documents and such, and probably isn't supported moving between versions of the OS.

As others suggest, that won't really help you much with apps, anyway -- you will need to reinstall them. When I've done this sort of thing, I've just plugged in old drives as slaves, copied over what data I've needed, and either left the old drive in as a data store, or unplugged it and carried on.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:57 AM on August 16, 2005

The 9100 has two 3.5" bays, which means you can bung the 40Gb drives in one at a time as a slave unless you have an external enclosure.

Reinstall the apps. There are a few third-party migration tools, but they're pretty clunky, and are likely to cause problems when you're going from one variant of XP to another. Then use the Files and Settings migration wizard.

A word of warning on keeping your old 40Gb drives. The risk of failure increases with age, and drives do fail. If you do want to keep one, since you're using Media Center, it might be a smart idea to use it as a scratch drive if you're recording from a TV tuner or similar. That's to say, don't put anything on it that you value.
posted by holgate at 5:50 AM on August 16, 2005

Since the hardware will be different, you need to give Windows a chance at properly installing everything. Technically you could Ghost your HD and transfer it to the new drive, but your system hardware will be different in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that could lead to OS instability. Just install everything fresh, or if you're feeling particularly saucy, create a BOOT-DVD with all the programs you wish to install, then custom-write install scripts for each of the applications. That way every time you install your OS from scratch, you'll already be up-and-running.

Caution: This is not for the feint of heart. If you don't regularly reinstall your OS (say, every month or so) don't bother.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:53 AM on August 16, 2005

Here is a method I've used with some success in the past: first backup your old boot disk, then update the operating system in the old computer to the new operating system. PUt the old hard drive in the new computer, if it can run the system at all, reload the operating system. Now you can put the new hardrive in the new computer as a slave and clone the old over to the new. Pull out the old and make the new hardrive the boot. Complicated, but if at any point it doesn't work, you can just go back (except of course the last).

If you only have an OEM copy of your new os, you may not be able to upgrade the old drive.
posted by 445supermag at 7:48 AM on August 16, 2005

« Older iPod acting up!   |   Gunfight song Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.