Moving programs & files from one computer to another (Old to new)

Posted on 2014-08-29
Last Modified: 2014-09-02
Last year, I bought a refurbished laptop. It has given me nothing but grief from keys falling off the keyboard out of the carton, to an assortment of various annoyances requiring repairs in the shop several times. I was smart enough to get an extended warranty (the store's) for a year, and they have agreed to let me return it, pay a little more, and get a NEW computer of my choice because they agree this one is simply a piece of crap.

What I need to do is to save MY stuff from the computer I'll be returning to put it onto the replacement I will get. I know this probably sounds ultra simple, but I'm just not sure about what to do.

I have a copy of NTI Backup Now EZ on a large external drive with 3TB worth of space, more than enough, but the options for saving (or "backing up", I guess is the correct term) seem too simple. Obviously I'm not interested in saving specific computer system files and such. One of my main concerns is saving programs I have bought and installed which I'm pretty sure have also installed anti-copy or anti-theft coding that I'm fearful will not let me move them without a lot of grief ,such as corresponding back and forth with the sellers.

Also, I have MailWasher installed and am using Thunderbird and want to save all the files (emails, obviously) and make a simple move if such is possible to the new machine.

Rather than guess, I thought it best to see what the experts who have been there and done that say.

By the way, the computer that I'll be returning is running windows 8.1 and I intend to use Windows 7 on the one that will replace it, if that makes any difference. I am not running or have bought any programs that are required to use Win 8, so that's not an issue.

Thanks in advance for your time and help.
Question by:RadioGeorge
    LVL 28

    Assisted Solution

    There are any number of tools to migrate user settings mail etc in windows.
    The path you are choosing win8 to win 7 is tricky, however here is a tool (free) for moving your installed programs from one pc to another:
    LVL 91

    Assisted Solution

    here a couple of programs saying that they can move installed programs (laplink's is well known) :
                  Application mover
            PC mover

    but i would prefer installing programs fresh
    LVL 87

    Assisted Solution

    Make sure you have the installation source and the keys to those programs, and the invoice. Then uninstall them from the old PC. After that install them on the new one using those keys. If you have problems activating get in touch with the publisher of that software and explain the situation, and that you removed the software from the old PC.
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    Hi Radio George,
    What I do and can save a lot of effort/ time you could simply take out the HDD and use it as an external HDD
    Get an external enclosure to fit the Laptop drive then plug that straight into your new computer/laptop USB.
    Do you prefer laptop or desktop?
    If you could post the make and model of your Laptop so I can determine the type of drive in there and what suitable enclosure is available.
    It could be an SSD.
    If it's suitable once it's connected to your new system it nolonger uses windows/ or any of the tools for security.
    Your drive will be treated as a USB device by Windows  7
    all your personal files are there/programs everything and you can just copy them out  or just leave them for now.
    Add your large external drive with 3TB worth of space,  and copy them across from one drive to the other.
    Are you the default administrator?
    The preps:
    You could uninstall all your security tools prior as you would nolonger need them once the drive is removed.
    MailWasher and any encryption stuff so that your files cannot be locked.
    This is the external case I bought and it supports ide/sata is self powered as well.
    So what you need to find out where your email store folder is located.
    Having done this everytime I build a new PC I find some of the programs will still work ok from the USB drive as well.
    When you get your new PC Windows 7 give it the name  exactly the same as this one that will help with file access..
    On my systems I use User. It is registered to User.
    That's about it really.
    Sunbright USB driveImport your store folder

    Laptop external case images
    hdd ssd laptop
    Images for external SSD case
     yes definitely have a copy of your emails or records of the installed programs,
    Do all the right preps prior.
    It does simplify it using the Laptop drive like this, if it's not an SSD.
    Also I don't believe it would have a different file structure access than windows 7 since windows 8 is disabled.
    How Windows 8′s Backup System Differs From Windows 7′s
    Tutorial: How To Slave A SATA Hard Drive Via USB
    Your thoughts.

    Author Comment


    Thanks for the info. However, as for the HDD removal, that can't be done.

    You see, when I conferred with the head honcho in service at the store where I bought the computer (A Lenovo Ideapad P400 Touch laptop), listing the various failures and problems it has generated over the past 10 months, he said to simply restore it to its out-of-the-box state, and bring it back in for an equal swap for the same model OR another computer, if I wanted to spend a little extra. So I can't exactly yank out the drive!

    The "other computer" option was a surprise and is very welcome. I have checked the store's inventory, and they do not have any of the same computers in stock which would make an even trade. I plan to spend a couple hundred  bucks to select a NEW computer, with my own choice of manufacturer. I'm leaning heavily towards Toshiba, as the laptop I had custom-built from them in 2006 (at a cost of $2300) is STILL working flawlessly today, and has never had to be serviced. It's a joy to have such a reliable backup for a few small jobs every now and then.

    Will look at your other info later or in a day or so and respond. Holiday here today--Labor Day--when you're not supposed to do any Labor. I like it.

    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    well on the net, nearly everybody will vote for Lenovo, instead of toshiba
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    I think both Toshiba and Lenovo are good products. lenovo is mainly targeted towards businesses and can be pricey, while toshiba is more for the consu,er market, but they still make good quality products, and I particularly like their very light and portable notebooks.

    Author Comment

    In response to nobus and rindi:

    Appreciate the valid comments you both make. Here are a few words on my thinking....

    I have bought refurbished stuff before (computer-wise)  and have been lucky enough to not experience any problems. The price for the soon-to-be-returned Lenovo was attractive, and since it was not what anyone would call cheap, I decided to get the extended warranty, which has turned out to be a smart investment.

    When one brand name of pretty much anything I buy turns out to be a bad klunker, I have misgivings about purchasing from that manufacturer again. When I buy something  computer-oriented that lasts and performs for years and years, as Microsoft rolls outs its good and bad operating systems, I tend to trust the hardware/accessories a lot. I think this is simple human nature.

    And I've learned that amateur and professional user reviews are just like hotel reviews such as Trip Advisor: it takes a fair amount of reading plenty of them so that you can weed out the one-factor complainers who will say, for example, that because the free breakfast was lousy, you should never stay at that place, no matter how good the rooms are!  Or: "I was on hold with customer service for twenty minutes, so you should never buy X brand of computer!" (Yes, there are lots of nuts like these around.)

    Finally, I've given Windows 8 almost a full year to prove its viability for my use.

    It has failed miserably.

    It's file structure and downright user-unfriendliness has led me to the decision to go back to Windows 7 AND XP. I am aware that there are sites that don't or won't work properly with certain browsers. Fine. I will live without them. I'm not one of the people who want video on every fricken page I visit.

    Then there's the misinformation that Microsoft puts out about certain older programs not being able to run on Windows 8--a flat-out lie, as experts have shown me very simple ways to run programs from 2002 and 2003 that are still getting the job done for me without my having to buy new software. But then, MS has shown time and again that it doesn't understand the meaning of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.".

    And the most damning thing of all is this: I installed certain programs on the Lenovo that I also have on my XP desktop. My hard drives are not weighted down with a lot of software. I expected faster speed of operation for those programs on Windows 8. In almost all instances, the XP outperformed Windows 8, to my great surprise and disappointment.

    So that's my thinking. I've been more than fair, allowing a year for the computer and its operating system to win me over, and run without having to go into the shop every few months. Loser on both counts. The smart thing to do is to move on.
    LVL 69

    Accepted Solution

    Hi RadioGeorge
    Yes well this advise will wipe that drive>he said to simply restore it to its out-of-the-box state, <
    If he is offering to to install the drive as is>> and bring it back in for an equal swap for the same model OR another computer, if I wanted to spend a little extra.<< ok that sounds as if he would do a reinstall of windows 7 and then you have to put back all your personal files, of course that is easy with an external drive.
    You could just keep them there for safety.
    Have you asked him to explain this?
    He is not offering to image this drive in windows 8 for your programs etc?

    I'd simply plug in the external drive and copy and paste your personal files/music,video,pictures,emails.
    email account/s isp settings /  contacts passwords. accounts and names with the bank internet etc.
    Just go to your email client and use the export contacts etc.
    Which email client please?
    Having used this system for year you must know where everything is?
    My Documents
    How to access My Computer/Documents/Pictures in Windows 8:

    Since the windows will be downgraded from windows 8 to windows 7 you can't really keep a backup of the programs unless it is imaged with that windows included.
    But you can copy out the folder and see if you can re register it.
    I just copy those folders so I can remember what I had.
    I went one step better this time, I have already built my new build beside the old one I'm on and have a KVMP switch so I can use both. 2 towers one monitor one keyboard/mouse

    What do you need to know RadioGeorge how can we help you
    Regards Merete
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    to me it looks that MS wanted to push the metro Gui from the smartphones on all their systems for economic (= sales) reasons
    imo  -it simply overlooks the fact that people at work can't be bothered by swiping their mouse from left to right, top to bottom, and up again - AND maintain productivity.
    for "playing around" users, it is probably nice
    just my opinion though
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    Lookout windows 9 is now on the way.
    Hot off the Press
    Microsoft's new Windows 9 OS is expected to be released in Spring 2015

    Author Closing Comment

    Thanks to all who responded. One of the better give-and-takes I've had on EE.

    After looking at the websites for the various suggested programs, I'm not entirely convinced that the transfer from Windows 8 to an earlier OS would be as smooth and seamless as I hoped, so I'll go the route Merete suggests, of pretty much copying and transferring manually and re-installing with support from program vendors where needed. I think this will be more or a minor rather than a major challenge. One other thing--I wrote up my experience and decision to "regress" as a piece in a monthly newsletter I send out to subscribers who visit my website. I was amazed at the number of what you would call "ordinary" users who wrote back to say that they had done the same thing---tried Windows 8 for about a year, hated it, chalked it up as a bad investment, and bought replacement computers with Windows 7! Guess they felt vindicated by reading about my actions. Now I wonder how many others out there in Cyberspace have also done the same thing? Best to all.
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    Thank you RadioGeorge, I agree wholeheartedly with the  copy and paste, it make take a little while but it's guaranteed.
    Make new folders on your USB HDD and use them for easy access later on.
    I have 4 USB drives one for video one for docs one for pictures and music,
    I replace them every 5 years
    Good Luck
    Regards Merete

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