Break In a New PC with Seamless Data Migration

Congratulations, you got a new computer. Whether it’s a graduation present or the perk of a new job, the device gives you a clean slate. But what about all the documents, settings and applications stuck on your old machine?

Here are a few tips for safely moving data and configurations from an old PC to a new one.

Archive files you don’t need

New PCs present opportunities to de-clutter and organize all the files users haven’t touched for years. “Consider archiving them instead of putting them on your new machine,” software analyst Jill Duffy writes in PC Magazine. “Seeing as you've got that clean slate of a new computer, why not keep it clean?” Duffy recommends archiving any files older than three years.

Back up, and back up some more

When it’s time to migrate, the first—and arguably most important—step is to back up the old computer, Acronis Fellow Joel Berman says. Image-based backup lets users copy the operating system and all the data that’s associated with it, including the system state, and application configurations.

It’s also important to back up the new computer. After users go through the setup process, entering their names and connecting to Wi-Fi, they should complete a backup of the new machine before they’ve loaded anything onto it, Berman says. For both the new and old PCs, users should back up to an external hard drive. “If you choose an internal drive as the backup destination, and that drive is damaged or destroyed, your data may be unrecoverable,” Berman says. 

Scenario 1: Keep everything the same

If users want to keep everything the same between their PCs, they’ll need to use a product like Acronis True Image Premium to do a bare-metal restore from the backup on their old PC to their brand new one. “At that point your new machine will look exactly like your old machine,” Berman says. “It will be completely the same except you’re on brand new, faster, lighter, better hardware.”

Scenario 2: Migrate selectively

In the case that users are unable to do a bare-metal restore to their new machines, the world isn’t over. Instead they’ll recover files from the backup they did on their old machine and manually copy the files over. In this case, users will have to reinstall applications and settings. “You’re going to have to go through a little bit more work, but at least you’ll have all of your data and you wouldn’t have lost it,” Berman says. 

Remember product keys

Before users shut down their old machines for good, they need to consider product keys for paid software like Adobe Photoshop, technology writer Alex Castle writes in PC World. "If you’ve activated paid software on your old computer, you should make sure to recover those software keys before they’re gone for good," Castle says. While most software doesn't require users to deactivate it on their old PCs before activating it on a new one, some professional-grade programs do.  

Just because it's a new computer doesn't mean it's perfect. To extend that new-PC bliss even if disaster strikes, smart users will regularly back up their cutting-edge machines.

[Image via Can Stock]