Whenever a client asks me for help upgrading from an old PC to a new one, I brace myself to hear their next two predictable sentences:
1) "No, of course I don't have the install CD's."
2) "Why can't you just copy over all my programs from my old PC?"
Backing up files that you've created on one PC and transferring them to another is easy. In a perfect world,
transferring the programs that you used to create those files would be as easy -like moving furniture from your old house to a new one.
But migrating actual programs from one PC to another is daunting without the original installation CDs. When you install software, you insert a new CD into your PC and an installation wizard takes over, guiding you through the process of copying the necessary files to your hard drive so the program can function.
What isn't obvious is that after you click "I agree" under the tiny licensing agreement text, the installation program scatters the necessary files hither and yon, across your computer's hard drive.
(If you aren't into computer jargon, skip down to "Great news.")
The program's executable file is written to a new subfolder in the Program Files folder. Data link library (dll) files are written to the windows/system folder. The settings (ini) files may be written to the Application Data folder (depending on which user will operate the program), finally, the installation registers the program with sometimes hundreds of entries into the windows registry -the mysterious, inner core of your PC's identity.
It is because programs store their files in so many places on your hard drive during installation that transferring them from one computer to another after the installation is difficult, if not virtually impossible. You would not only have to know the location of each file, but the task of copying each of those files manually to the corresponding location on the new PC would be daunting. I've tried it, and regretted it.
Great news. A respected company that has been in the PC connectivity business for over 25 years has developed a way to migrate not only your files, but your programs from one PC to another -yes, even if you've lost all your installation CD's.
Laplink's PCMover software ($49.95) takes a snapshot of your new PC. You then install it on your old PC and it creates what they call a Moving Van containing all your programs and settings. PCmover transfers all the programs and files so they work on the new PC just as they did on the old. This total migration can even include Microsoft's Office products (which may simply need reactivation on the new computer). PCmover's instructions are clear and simple. The transfer can be done over a local network, an external hard drive or by direct cable included free with the PCmover.
Moving all your programs from one PC to another should be that simple. And now it is.