TIP OF THE DAYHow to Migrate to a New PC
You probably know the feeling: You sit down at a new computer, excited by itspotential, only to realize that so much of what you really need is still stuck onyour older system. Trading up to a new PC and a new operating system can be abit like moving into a newer, bigger house; you've got to pack up and relocateevery little thing you've amassed over the years, and then customize your newsurroundings before it really feels like you're at home. But how are you going totransfer your address book, e-mails, data files, Internet favorites, digital musicand photos, specialized applications, desktop wallpaper and screen savers, andall your other personal paraphernalia, not to mention your application and systemsettings?Copying all this data manually is an option in principle, but it's hopelessly tediousand error-prone in practice. You're likely to miss files hidden in some dark corner of your hard drive—and even if you do succeed in copying all your data files,you've still solved only part of the problem. Many Microsoft Windows applicationsstore key settings in the Registry or in profile files. If your new PC has a newer operating system or newer versions of applications, the older settings may havemoved or not be applicable at all. Copying your hard-drive contents wholesaleisn't an option, either, since a new operating system and new underlyinghardware will require all kinds of different files that you don't want to riskoverwriting.In an ideal world, you wouldn't have to worry about any of this. You could press afew buttons and transfer everything that made your old system unique right ontoyour new one. While such a panacea is beyond the current state of the art, anumber of system-migration tools take a big step in that direction. We'vereviewed a variety of them (see
)—so now let'stake a look at how you can actually put them to use to help get your new PC setup just like your old one.
What You Can Migrate
All migration tools aim to move your data files and at least some of your application settings—things like program options and preferences, toolbar positions, custom dictionaries, and so on. In order to move settings for aparticular application, though, the tool must be explicitly designed to support it.Most migration tools can move settings for dozens of common applications fromMicrosoft, Intuit, and other major software publishers, but you should check tosee if particular applications you depend on are supported. If you're a power user, you'll undoubtedly have some apps with settings that no product supports,which means you'll have to make any settings changes manually; fortunately,many programs don't have all that many crucial configuration options. Also, if