Changing Computers: How To Keep Your Files

Thumb Drive

Courtesy Microsoft Clip Art

Changing to a new computer is an exciting as well as an anxious event. We’re excited about moving up in processor speed, memory size and disk storage space in a newer machine. However, we’re usually concerned about losing our data files such as spreadsheets, text documents, databases, photographs, music files that we want to keep. There are techniques to transfer that data to the new machine easily and inexpensively.

Take advantage of changing to a new computer by organizing your data. Identify which data you really need among all the data you’ve accumulated over time. This is analogous to moving to a new office and only taking with you the files and documents you absolutely have to keep and discarding the rest…I know some of you are pack-rats who always take everything with you (you know who you are), and if that’s how you want to do it, so be it. Transferring only the data you really need will allow you to use less disk space on the new computer, you’ll be able to locate folders and files more easily, and your storage access time will be faster.

Another technique that will help you to transfer data and make backup copies easier in the future is to create your folder and file structure so that you can move or copy a whole folder at a time in one operation rather than doing it a file at a time. For example, it’s easier to move or copy the My Documents folder rather than having to do so with each subordinate folder or file.

Now to actually move the data from the old machine to the new one. I recommend you purchase a thumb drive with at least 4 Gigabytes of storage, depending on how much data you’re now occupying.

Once you’ve organized your absolutely necessary files to be moved and grouped them into one top-level folder; you can find out how much storage space it uses by checking it’s properties, or by listing it using My Computer.

The next step is to copy or move your data from it’s current location to the thumb drive.

This can be done several ways: 1. Copy the folder(s) using the copy function of Windows; 2. Use Windows Explorer and drag and drop the folder(s) from the detailed list of the current location on the right side of the window to the drive of the thumb drive in the folder list displayed in the left column of the window; or 3. Open two windows of Windows Explorer minimized and both displayed on your screen at once. Then drag and drop from one window that contains the current folder(s) to the second window that contains the empty thumb drive. Note that if you want to move the data just drag and drop using the mouse; to copy the data hold down the Ctrl key while doing the drag and drop.

The final step is to insert the thumb drive into the new computer and copy or move the data from the thumb drive to the new computer’s disk storage using the techniques suggested in the previous step, reversing the source and destination locations.

It’s an important practice to have an external copy of your data in case you have an internal disk failure. Now that you have your most important files stored on the thumb drive, you have this copy on external media that can be stored in a safe place. This data should be updated periodically using the above copy techniques.

Let me know your reaction to this post by commenting (you’ll need to login).

Remember, home computing is a blast…keep it productive and enjoyable.

Best regards,



Filed under hardware, home computing

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