Laptop data transfer?
March 20, 2007 4:03 PM   Subscribe

Wife just bought new laptop...wants to transfer gobs of applications and data from old laptop. Are we better off reinstalling the apps on the new machine and transferring the data manually or using a piece of software like PC Laplink to manage the transfer?

...and if we use laplink, what do we do about software like Office where we have an older version on the existing and an already installed newer version on the target? I am not thrilled with the idea of picking thru the various data files manually but I cant quite wrap my head around all the potential problems that come with the transfer software...
posted by cyclopz to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You will have to reinstall the applications.

For the data, it depends on what you mean by 'manually'. If both machines have an ethernet jack, the simplest thing is going to be to get a crossover cable (though with a new laptop, any ethernet cable should work), and create a tiny little two machine network (basically give each a netmask of, then give one the IP and default gateway of and the other the IP and gateway, turn on windows file sharing, and get copying.
posted by pompomtom at 4:14 PM on March 20, 2007

Sounds like you're using Windows, in which case your applications are not copyable because Windows installations put bits and pieces all over the place.

For data, you might want to think about reorganizing it to make it easier to back up (you do backup, don't you?) and/or copy to the new computer. Then Laplink or direct networking or even sneakernet should be quite straightforward.
posted by anadem at 4:40 PM on March 20, 2007

Applications - reinstall
Data - is it documents? You can burn a CD or 2 of her documents and then copy them onto the new laptop. It is a good idea to have backups anyway.

Anything else other than docs and pics and other stuff that lives in My Documents? I.E., address book, favorites in web browser.
posted by k8t at 5:04 PM on March 20, 2007

To join the chorus, applications have to be reinstalled.

As for moving data, you've got options. If you've got a home network up already, then Windows' Simple File Sharing will let you copy things across. (Just create a network-writable folder on the new machine, set the old one as network-readable, and off you go.)

If you're a little more confident with your networking chops, a crossover cable and a little manual configuration of IP addresses as pompomtom suggests will work just fine, too.

No network? A few burned CDs/DVDs will usually handle it, and (chorus again) backups are a good thingTM. For that matter, external USB/Firewire hard drives are cheap and easy to come by these days, and would also get the job done.

I'd advise against using (or, more accurately, purchasing) Laplink, etc, because the same job can be done without any extra software costs without much hassle.
posted by theoddball at 8:29 PM on March 20, 2007

PC Mover from Laplink is actually pretty good. No, I don't work for them etc., but I've used it maybe 4 or 5 times. It moves applications as well as data and can handle transitions between different versions of Windows - if it can handle 98 -> XP, I'd expect it to manage a new version of office. Plus, it leaves the original PC intact, so if it doesn't work, no harm, no foul.

Oh, also, I've never tried it with Vista.
posted by leakymem at 5:10 AM on March 21, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for answers...we have a real issue with the ability to move files. As leakyman notes, the Laplink software actually handles the process of moving the apps and all their scattered doodads from one machine to the next. The documentation doesnt seem to do avery good job of explaining how to deal with different versions of the same software. I am also concerned about filtering all the accumulated noise that a computer picks up over time. I think I will stick to reinstalling and moving the the associated data manually but I would be interested in hearing more feedback...
posted by cyclopz at 6:39 AM on March 21, 2007

The best thing about doing reinstalls one by one and moving stuff by hand is that when you screw something up, you usually have only a small amount of work to redo. If a monolithic move goes wrong, it can cost vast amounts of time to fix.
posted by flabdablet at 7:52 AM on March 21, 2007

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