My new computer is up and running. It took a bit of effort to prepare for the migration and then to get the new computer set up the way I want it. I’m not very good with change, apparently. I seem to want everything like it was on my old computer, only faster and better.

I learned some new things, so I thought I’d share my travails. I got some great tips from Angelo PC.

There are several ways you can migrate. You can use a program like PC Mover, or do what’s called an image and copy everything from one hard drive to another. This way you won’t lose any programs. But, this copies over all the junk as well, which keeps your computer slow and crappy. So instead this is what I did:

1. Clean out and consolidate data.

On my old computer, I had mp3s, documents, pictures, etc., all over the place with no organization. So I spent some time consolidating, organizing, and cleaning files. I even did that with my computer at school and now my teaching files match.

In addition, new computers do not come with 3.5 floppy disk drives. It’s hard to believe that floppies have gone the way of the dodo. I still have some old 5.25 floppies around! Whatever’s on them is long lost. So I went through probably over 100 floppy disks and transferred the keepers to my document folders.

It was very cathartic. Incidentally, I looked up cathartic just to check my spelling (sometimes I mess that word up), and I learned that it also describes a substance that accelerates defecation, as opposed to a laxative, which eases defecation. Consolidating files does indeed accelerate transferring my stuff to my new computer, so it actually fits.

2. Deal with email and browser stuff.

Remember to back up your email and your browser bookmarks. Most email programs come with a backup function. Unfortunately, I was using Netscape Mail 7, which was obsolete as of 2005. I told you I don’t like change! Several websites I consulted suggested shifting over to web-based email. I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I switched over to Thunderbird on the old computer, which made it very easy to migrate later. Thunderbird rocks. Just in case something happened to my bookmark backup data, I also saved all my bookmarks as an .html file. If you use Firefox and Thunderbird, you can use a program called MozBackup.

Important: When you migrate, you lose all those nifty website usernames and passwords that your browser saves and automagically fills in for you. For some of those websites, I can barely remember what my username and password is. So I used a program called Belarc Advisor to harvest all this information.

Also, I copied down the server settings and passwords for my various email accounts just in case the backups didn’t work.

3. Deal with programs.

First, make a list of the programs you want on your new computer. You don’t want to transfer all the programs on your existing computer because many of those programs are just junk. Don’t forget programs like Quicktime, Adobe Reader, and WinZip, those little programs you use all the time but don’t think about.

As you probably know, most programs can’t be transferred over by copying the program files from one computer to the other because you lose your registry data containing the keys that unlock the programs. This totally sucks. Belarc Advisor harvests most of this information for you, but there are still problems with installing programs. So collect your various disks and keys.

I learned a really important lesson here. Save your install downloads for the programs you buy online. Just tuck them away in a folder called “Software Installation Files.” When I downloaded a program from the web, I usually deleted the downloaded install file once I finished opening it. This was a huge mistake. If I had saved those little packages, I wouldn’t have to buy or download those programs again.

4. The Transfer.

There are several ways you can do this. We have an external hard drive, which makes the process very zippy. You can also upload your stuff to a website and then download it again. There are many websites that offer backup space where you can store backup data from your computer to recover from a crash. You can use a flash drive. I bought a 16 gig flash drive to use as my backup from now on. The transfer wasn’t as fast as using the hard drive, but it was still pretty fast.

5. Setting up.

It took me pretty much one whole day to download, re-install, and set up the new computer. Setting up my preferences on the many programs I use was a pain in the ass. For instance, I had to remake the default template I use on Word and I had to get Thunderbird to recognize what program to use to unpack attached documents. I had a problem with fuzzy fonts that took a long time to figure out. The short story is, due to having a flat screen monitor and a hyper-cool video card, I needed to adjust the appearance settings under the display settings in the control panel. It took me two hours to figure this out.

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