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Movin’ on up

Transfer data to your new system with care. Business Advisor hed: Movin’ on up dek: transfer data to your new system with care. by Matt Lake

Every morning, Bill had to wind up the pre-Cambrian 500MB hard disk on his nonprofit’s admin computer, shovel in another scuttle of coal, and wait for a head of steam to build up before he could begin his computing day. When the grinding of the hard disk got too scary, he finally plundered petty cash for a new computer , and called me in to figure out what to do next.

The task sounded deceptively simple–get 20 years of records off the old system and onto the new. But if you’ve not done this recently (or ever), you’ll soon find out there are some nasty twists to this process. Luckily, I have honed my data-transfer technique to production-line efficiency–and this is the approach I took with Bill’s machines.

Make a new start

Instead of moving what you don’t need onto a new system, sweep away the clutter before moving. That doesn’t mean tossing your data–though it usually means leaving your software and tossing out a lot of junk. Before you move anything, clear out your browser’s cache and any temporary files. Under Windows 98, this is a one-button process–right-click on your hard drive’s icon, select Properties, and then click on the Disk Cleanup button. Then get rid of BAK and TMP files you don’t need from your document folders–under Start, Find (or Start, Search in Windows Me and later Windows versions), select “*.BAK” and “*.TMP” in succession, and delete the files you find. Then back up your old system completely (at least all of the data) before you migrate anything.

Decide how you’ll transfer

If your computers are networked, you’re in luck-you can hook the new computer up to the network and just drag over the files from the old to the new. (We’ll go into which files to drag later.)

If you’re not networked, pick a mass-data transport medium. CD-R drives are good, if your old system has one. That will provide more than 600MB of portable storage in a format that most new systems can read without any additional hardware. A slower but still sound alternative is an external storage device–a portable CD-RW drive such as HP’s USB-connected CD-Writer 8230e (reviewed in this column in March 2001 > 2003,5,14,1,0301,01.html

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