Monday, August 01, 2005


You'd think I'd know better. Actually I did, but the excitement of my new computer got the best of me. For the first time in about five years, I had a brand new computer of my own. It's cute and sleek and I couldn't wait to start using it. I opened the box dancing around like a kid in a candy shop. I powered up and it struck me---there's no data on it. All my "stuff" is on my old beast.

A feeling of dread began to creep in as I set my new computer aside and started contemplating how to move all my precious stuff, to this new machine. I decided on a plan and ran with it. (After all, I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.) I moved documents, pictures, emails, and family history files. I sat down to work and realized that I hadn't moved all my settings. Oops.

While it isn't a complete disaster, it's going to take me some time to get things back to the way I'm used to. I didn't completely mess things up, but I did forget a few things, and after I backtracked and did some research I found there was lots of help available to me, had I just taken the time to do a little more research. Since we'll all probably find ourselves in this predicament at one time or another, I thought I'd share some things that worked for me--and a few lessons I learned the hard way.


Before you begin moving files around, there are some things you'll want to take care of first. I went through all of my folders and did some housekeeping. Files I just wanted archived I put in a separate folder so that I wouldn't have to clutter my new computer with them. The "Recycle Bin" also got a real workout that day as I deleted files I no longer needed. (This was a huge step forward for me since I am an electronic packrat!)

I made a list of the files I would need on the new computer so that when it came time to transfer, I would not forget anything. The only casualty was my favorites list. Years ago (probably with my last computer change) I backed up my favorites in with "My Documents." Thinking this was my current file, I moved that one and left my good list, so I'm going to have to rearrange things again so I can retrieve it. I'm going try to hold off for a couple days though to see if it I left anything else important behind. That way, I'll only have to do it once.

An important precaution I took was to completely scan my computer for viruses before I moved anything. While I have my computer set to scan automatically every week, I did an extra scan before I began to make sure everything was still clean. I don't want any nasty bugs on my new baby!

You'll also want to install your security and anti-virus programs on the new computer right away. Make sure your new machine also has the latest security patches as well.

After I realized my predicament, I did a quick Google search for the terms:

"new computer move files"

Look at that--a ton of articles telling me how to move my data properly. (I can hear my dad now, "If all else fails, follow directions." Someday I'll learn that lesson!) Here are a few articles I found. (There were quite a few others as well.)

Copyright 2005,


my own solution is back the whole hard disk up onto an external drive
connected by USB
and make a clean start with the new stuff and use the external disk as an archive


Look at that--a ton of articles telling me how to move my data properly. (I can hear my dad now, "If all else fails, follow directions."
Someday I'll learn that lesson!) Here are a few articles I found. (There were quite a few others as well.)

that recommends several programs.

When you're ready to dispose of it, consider donating it or recycling it in some fashion. If you decide to pitch it, check with your local sanitation department. Because computers contain hazardous materials, your city may have its own guidelines for disposing of them.

I have learned quite a bit from this switch, and am slowly but surely getting back in the swing of things. As I reset a lot of things, I am finding better ways to organize my files. As I go through my family history files, I am finding some items that were misfiled and I'm hopeful that once I get through the transition and can sit and review things, my new computer will help me make some new discoveries.
Juliana Smith is the editor of the "Ancestry Daily News" and author of "The Ancestry Family Historian's Address Book." She has written for "Ancestry" Magazine and "Genealogical Computing." Juliana can be reached by e-mail at: mailto: , but she regrets that she is unable to assist with personal research.

Copyright 2005,