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Putting off getting that new computer?

Is your computer hopelessly old? Is the hard disk whirring ominously? Does the fan run all the time but the computer is so hot you could cook an egg on it? And repairs will cost more than a new machine. You need to get a new computer, don't you?


But you dread the hassle. You've got your pictures, iTunes, valuable installed software that you can't live without. Your email! Yikes, what a nightmare! I hear you, but with a little planning and thought about what you actually need, moving to a new machine can be minimally painless. You won't even need drugs.

Get some kind of removable media: DVD, CD, or USB drive. The size you need depends on how much data you have to move, so err on the high side. I used DVDs (needed three of them) and a 4GB USB drive. The bigger the better.

dropbox logo text 2015 smIf you have a Dropbox account or use another storage site, move as much as you can there. Once you install Dropbox and sync your files, it will all appear on your new computer!

Step one: This is a good time to do some clean up. Go through your old computer and decide what you actually want to keep. If you have an email client like Outlook, Thunderbird, etc, clean up your folders. Empty the Deleted folder. Look carefully at the Sent folder. Do you really need copies of those emails you sent back in 2010? If you have more than one email account coming into your email client, remember to go through each one. Do the same for your Documents, Pictures, etc. If you have stuff sitting on your Desktop, decide if you want them moved. If you haven't looked at them in a few months, you probably don't need them.

Make a record of the software you'll need to install on the new machine. Don't forget your anti-virus software, Acrobat or other PDF reader, and stuff like Office.

office365I use Office 365 which is a subscription that gives you Word, Excel, Outlook, and other stuff. Pro: As long as you have the subscription, your Office suite will be up-to-date. The subscription also covers several PCs and mobile devices. Con: If your subscription expires, you won't be able to create or edit until you install purchased software or renew your subscription.

Step two: Search for specific information for your installed applications to move data to a new computer. Here are some I had to move and the URLs for information that helped.

Step Three: Backup your old computer. You should be doing this regularly. If something goes wrong, you can restore things to the way they were and try again.

Step Four: Copy the files from your old computer to the removable media. Can be a long process...

Step Five: Fire up your new computer. You'll probably have to go through a set-up process, setting up an account/identity, password or pin if you like, etc. If you're moving from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10, it's worth the time to go through the introductory information and poking around so you can get familiar with it.

Step Six: Copy the files from your removable media to your new computer as directed in the information you found in Step Two. This may take awhile, so get yourself some coffee and play some Solitaire.

The exception to this is email. If you're using Outlook, install the software first, then import the files you created on your old computer.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must admit that my new computer adventure didn't go as smoothly as it might have. The main issue I had was that I activated software that was included as a special offer. For instance, I have a subscription for anti-virus software for up to 5 PCs. I already paid for it, so I didn't want the free 30-day offer that came on the new computer. I also started the Office suite that was pre-installed instead of adding the new computer to the Office 365 subscription. These goofs on my part cost me several hours of putzing around to get it straightened out. So be careful what you click!

All in all, a little planning and thought made my move to a new computer much less painful than it might have been. I hope your experience is even better! Good luck!


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