Moving Files To A New Computer
June 15, 2006 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Hello: After several years, I am finally upgrading and purchasing a new computer. My dilemma is moving files onto this new computer. My operating system on both computers is Windows XP. 1. I need advice moving my Thunderbird Email and Email folders onto this new computer. I understand that emails are really embedded and can be a problem. I also need assistance moving my FIREFOX bookmarks. I would really hate to loose those bookmarks! 2. I then plan to copy all my document files onto a CD using Nero and then recopying to the new computer. 3. I plan to go through the arduous task of reinstalling all my programs. That is my plan; however, I want to insure I am not overlooking a vital task! I really do need assistance moving my email and bookmark files. If I have missed anything, please advise. Thanks in advance. Bruce Thompson
posted by Mckoan1 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
1. It's simple and there's plenty of documentation out there. Here's the procedure in a nutshell:

- In WINDOWS explorer, go to tools>folder options>view and select "show hidden files or folders."

-Then go to Documents and Settings>[youraccount]>Application Data>Firefox

-Copy the contents of this folder to a removable source or server

-Repeat with Thunderbird (Documents and Settings>[youraccount]>Application Data>Thunderbird)

Then, when you get the new computer, copy the contents to the same folder on the new machine.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:49 PM on June 15, 2006

Copying Firefox bookmarks is pretty easy, they're all in one .html file which you can find in C:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\xxxx.default\bookmarks.html

Obviously you'd replace User with your XP user name and xxxx.default will be some random characters but usually it'll be the only directory within the Profiles folder. You could also just copy the entire profile over to the new computer and keep any saved logins, cookies, etc.

You can do the same thing with Thunderbird to copy all your messages from one PC to the next, the Thunderbird profiles are found in C:\Documents and Settings\User\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles
posted by Venadium at 3:51 PM on June 15, 2006

For Firefox and Thunderbird, I've used MozBackup before with great success. Give it a shot (but verify your back ups, first! Just in case).

Also, if you have some networking gear (and some space, I guess), it's a good idea to keep both machines online for a bit. This way, you can avoid having to burn discs, and if you forget anything, it's trivial to log back into your old machine and copy it over.
posted by Drunken_munky at 3:51 PM on June 15, 2006

Curley beat me.
posted by Venadium at 3:52 PM on June 15, 2006

Mayor Curley has you on the right track. I would just add that you should install both Thunderbird and Firefox on the new computer before copying the folders over. You're in for a pretty easy ride even if you're moving from older versions to newer ones because FF and TB mercifully separate user data from the program (as good xp applications do).
posted by ontic at 3:58 PM on June 15, 2006

Mozbackup worked great for me.
posted by SNACKeR at 4:13 PM on June 15, 2006

I used Mozbackup for both firefox and thunderbird data last time. It worked well. All this stuff is documented and relatively easy to find on the Mozilla site.

The rest of your plan sounds right. I'd suggest only installing a couple of essential programs off the bat, and then installing the others as you need them. It spreads out the time and effort it takes and you may find that you never install some of your old apps.

I agree that network transfer of your data files is often the way to go, but I always end up fighting longer than I should with XPs default filesharing settings.
posted by Good Brain at 4:50 PM on June 15, 2006

For moving your firefox bookmarks you could use foxmarks. Ive recently discovered this, and its the most useful extension ive found yet. It allows you to sync your bookmarks over several different computers.

Google also now do something similiar that will sync your extensions too... its called google browser sync.
posted by gergtreble at 5:03 PM on June 15, 2006

Vital tasks overlooked: If you have any games you play on the PC, be sure to backup your save game files. Usually each manufacturer will have something on the site about how to do it, but it's usually just copying save files from the old and into the new Programs folder.

If you have a non-web-based feed reader (such as FeedDemon, although now it does come with a sync service called NewsGator), back it up as well (again, directions in the help files) or at least make a list of all the feeds you read.

If you use Photoshop or another graphics program and have brushes, filters, etc. that you don't want to lose, back those up too.

It's a good idea to make sure you have all your CD-keys, program license keys, etc, backed up before you start wiping your old data (you weren't going to forget to wipe your old hard drive, were you?)
posted by IndigoRain at 5:32 PM on June 15, 2006

One thing I almost always forget ... if you have FTP settings stored in your FTP program, be sure to write those down before you wipe and drives!
posted by geeky at 5:56 PM on June 15, 2006

Also, if you have some networking gear (and some space, I guess), it's a good idea to keep both machines online for a bit. This way, you can avoid having to burn discs, and if you forget anything, it's trivial to log back into your old machine and copy it over.

I've moved computers/hard disks MANY times over the years and I've found that I ALWAYS miss something. This thread already has some examples for you, like game save files, wallpapers, photoshop filters etc. I also used to hate losing IM contacts and log files as well.

Soooo, in order to safeguard against this, I usually whack the hard disk out of the old machine, put it in the new machine and copy the whole thing to my new hard disk, in a folder called "! Ranglins old computer" (the exclamation mark keeps it at the top of the list when you view files in My Computer/Explorer). This is usually easy to do, because your new PC will have more hard disk space than your old PC (hopefully!).

Once my new PC is up and running, I go and move all the usual culprits over from the old folder. Then, if I forget anything, I can just go into the folder later and find it again. After about 6 - 12 months (or when I realise I'm running out of space), I have one last stickybeak into the folder and then nuke it, on the assumption that if I haven't needed it for year, then I probably won't miss it.
posted by ranglin at 10:06 PM on June 15, 2006

Don't forget to transfer any fonts you have which won't be on your new computer. They're easy to forget - they're not in a regularly accessed directory.
posted by Meagan at 5:56 AM on June 16, 2006

Don't laugh; what's wrong with Micro$oft's built-in files and settings transfer wizard?
posted by emg at 4:43 AM on June 17, 2006

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