So you have that nice, bright, uncluttered computer
as a gift or you picked up a steal on a year end sale. No worries,
that seemingly endless disk space will be gone in no time.
Problem is setting it up as your primary computer and
getting it just the way you like it. Sure the Windows Files and
wizard will take care of some basics but what about programs? Sure,
you have the CD's for your "big" applications and you can sit around and
feed the new box CDs, enter finger breaking validation codes and spend
countless hours downloading updates or you can just forget about
them and not do anything with the new box except glare at all that
Okay, so that last is a poor use for a new machine and thankfully there
are alternatives in the form of migration programs.
There's Chlorine In My Gene Pool - Desktop DNA
The first I looked at was Desktop DNA which I
recall from the Windows 3.x days. It's been
purchased by Computer Associates from Miramar System. Their
claim is that it "is the quickest and easiest way to transfer
and safeguard your PC’s DNA from one PC to another." Details are
here and a trial is available
here. They had some sort of
rebate thing happening where the final price would be $19.99 but
you know the deal with rebates; unless you're willing to sacrifice
small animals under the full moon the price is $59.99. I downloaded
the trail and checked out the list of things they could move for me.
Apparently I don't have many of the "hundreds of the most popular
applications" that it handles. Sheesh, I could have set up all that
stuff from CDs in less than an hour. Hopefully it's better at moving
DNA than it is programs.
Sufficiently depressed I don't bother to try it,
nothing there I want to move so I move on....
Windows Easy Transfer Companion
Originally this section was devoted to PCRelocator
but then Microsoft bought it and it went away. It has now resurfaced
as Windows Easy Transfer Companion which is, as of this writing, in
beta. However it is still available for public download in the US.
I haven't tested the new version but it does claim
to transfer programs and files. However it is limited to
transferring from XP to Vista. If you'd like to give it a shot it's
Heavy Lifting - PCMover/Move Me
Next up to bat is PCMover from Laplink. Laplink
and I go
back to the DOS days when I used it
to move files from the PC to the laptop and vice versa.
In the interest of full disclosure they were a client when I
ran forums on CompuServe. This was just after electricity was
The company has changed personnel
since then (as well as their name, the company name was previously
Traveling Software) and I no longer know anyone there but I have
fond memories of Laplink so I'm anxious to try PCMover
If you want the downloadable version, your purchase
run you $39.95. If you want the physical box with a USB cable it'll
run $5 more. Since I'll do all transfers over an existing LAN and
I'm hip deep in USB cables as it is I go with the download option.
there are options other than a LAN including loading files on a USB
attached hard drive, first load up the "moving van" on the old
machine, hook up the USB hard drive to the new machine and then fire
up PCMover on the new box.
Using the LAN
method it's not even necessary to use the IP address of
the new computer, Move Me will look for another computer on the
network running Move Me and show it for selection or you can use the network
option and display all computers in the work group. Cool.
Move Me offers some options such as NOT moving
hardware device specific files. Good idea, it could get messy if you
installed driver x in a machine that depends on driver y. It's not
something I would recommend but you can even elect to move your
Move Me recognizes that I
don't have a drive D: on the new computer so it offers to put the
drive D: files on the old computer in a folder on the new machine. I decline. Next it
starts building an inventory of everything on the old computer and so the "moving van" file starts the process. The data is
compressed so it doesn't take as long as it could but
you're gonna want to go and watch TV or eat dinner as the transfer
took 1.5 hours for my 20Gb plus of stuff.
After the transfer the new machine reboots and wham,
there's a clone of the desktop from the old machine. All the
desktop items from the old machine are there, even the shortcuts that were on the drive
transferred so, of course, they don't work. Move Me even transfers
the startup program groups but disables it and allows you to pick
and choose which transferred startup programs to enable.
All of the programs I'd moved with PCRelocator
worked with Move Me with the exception of that pesky CD burning program.
Move Me moved everything
else including files in my documents, IE favorites, all my
Office stuff, etc. with the exception of a few files that were busy
by my own actions
(for example I didn't shut down my email program so my email store
wasn't transferred) and
Acronis True Image
and, of course, the programs that were on drive D:. It was like a machine clone without the
problems associated with cloning a hard drive and installing it in a
new box. Impressive.
Download the 2.4Mb spyware free trail version by
The Bottom Line
Desktop DNA doesn't make the cut and when it was available the $70
for PC Relocator was kind of stiff compared to
Move Me at $40.
Move Me is well thought out and well crafted and will certainly
do the job as much as it's technically possible. I'm going with Move
Me as my top pick.
Time to reformat and reinstall and I'm gonna wear
this validation key out. Hope the Microsoft cops don't break down the door
before I get this finished...
Until next time best in computing.
A later addition. I was so impressed with
that I decided to give it a shot at migrating from XP to XP64,
especially since it's not possible to directly upgrade and sure
enough, it did a decent job. Not as good as it did with XP to XP but
then I'd added some stuff to my XP machine since I did my original
test. Specifically it didn't move SQL Desktop Edition (I've been
playing around with Visual Basic and Visual Web which also installs
SQL desktop) but it certain did the job with everything else. Another high mark for