One of the many computer related tasks that I often fear is reinstalling Windows or upgrading, for that matter. After years of getting comfortable to my very own setup, I find myself very reluctant to start from scratch. However, sometimes is not about what you want but rather, what needs to be done. That’s why I more than happy to try out new applications aimed at making the transition easier.
Laplink’s PCmover Professional is one particular application that was designed to assist in system migration from an old PC to a new one. It can even migrate between older operating systems such as Windows XP to the newer Windows 7. This week, we’ll be giving away 10 free copies of PCmover Professional worth $599 in total to help you in those troubled times.
But first, a walkthrough.
Laplink PCmover Professional is a simple Windows application that helps to compile and prepare your system for migration. You install it on both the old and new computers and it guides you to select the programs, files and settings that you want to preserve from the old system. Basically, it wraps everything up and prepares a simple file that you can use to restore on your new computer. One thing you’ll have to note is that PCmover doesn’t transfer the operating system over so you’ll still have to install Windows again.
Here’s what PCmover Professional will migrate for you:
- Installed programs
- Files: photos, videos, music, podcasts
- Settings: icons, desktop backgrounds, browser settings, bookmarks, network settings
- User profiles and settings
Alright, let’s take it for a spin. As usual, we’ll start with the installation process. Right at the start, I’m prompted to install Microsoft Visual C++ before proceeding. Not a problem since it’s all done automatically.
As soon as the application initialises, I was prompted to select the version which I’d like to run. If you would like to test PCmover before purchasing, you may simply select a Trial transfer and it will migrate files of a particular type (text, audio, images, etc.).
Once I was done registering, I was asked to select a form of transfer. There were 3 options provided: Migration (moving files, software and settings from an old PC to a new one running the same operating system), Windows 7 Upgrade Assistant (moving files, software and settings from a computer running an older version of Windows to Windows 7), and Image Assistant (restoring from an image located from a hard drive). For this walkthrough, we’ll select Migration.
The next step is telling the application which computer I’m using. If you are planning to use an external hard drive for the migration to restore the system on the same computer after reinstalling Windows (as I am), it’s safe to disregard the subtext and select OLD computer.
When using migration assistants like PCmover, you have to bear in mind that a snapshot your system files will be transferred in its current state, regardless of how optimised it is. So if your system registry has errors or if files are infected with viruses, they will be transferred over to your new computer in that state. Read this article to find out how you can clean your registry prior to migration.
There are four connection methods available: Network, Laplink Ethernet Cable (must be purchased), File Storage Device, and USB cable. In my opinion, selecting File Storage Device would be the best choice because it will probably be the most reliable and you won’t have to deal with networking issues.
In order to keep the size of the migration file down to a minimum, PCmover detects the files which are already on the new system and compares it with the snapshot which it is about to make. If you don’t have access to the new system (perhaps it hasn’t been prepared yet or you’re only reinstalling Windows on the same computer), this step isn’t necessary. As a result, the snapshot will be larger but still functional.
The next step is outlining what you’d like to transfer over. A full transfer involves preparing files, settings and installed software to be migrated. If you’d rather reinstall applications separately – select Files and settings only. If you would prefer to leave the system settings on the new computer as they are, you may choose to select to prepare just the files.
Now, PCmover provides you with the chance of selecting the settings that you’d like to be brought over. Click on the Custom Settings button.
You’ll have to option to prevent PCmover from transferring infected IE toolbars, and other miscellaneous settings.
If you had several user accounts on your old computer, you’ll now be able to select which accounts to bring across. In my case, there was only one user — which I may even choose to exclude.
The next step is pretty vital because PCmover will run through the operating system and generate a list of installed applications, stating whether or not they are safe to transfer (those will be unchecked by default).
Being the thorough application that it is, PCmover then finds additional disk drives connected to your computer and allows you to select them to be transferred as well.
If there are specific folders that contain very large files and you already have a copy of them somewhere else, you may choose to exclude them from the migration.
The last option that you’re provided with is to exclude certain file types. If you’d rather not transfer over any temporary or backup files, simply exclude them.
Finally, the application will begin to build a moving journal, which is essentially just a database of files and settings which were selected for migration.
Once the moving journal is complete, you’ll know roughly how large an external hard drive is needed for the migration.
Now, PCmover will initiate the actual process of preparing the system for migration. It will create what’s known as a Moving Van File which contains all of your files, folders, applications and settings. Click on the Browse button and select a destination (your external hard drive). You’ll need to name the Moving Van file, something like “Migration bundle” will do just fine.
Once you’re done, it will fill the Moving Van File with everything that was selected to be migrated.
Depending on how many files you selected to transfer, the process of filling the Moving Van File may take up to several hours. When it’s done, all you’ll need to do is to install PCmover on your new computer and unload the Moving Van File.
Reinstalling Windows and transferring your files and settings manually can be hard and PCmover does a great job helping you achieve the task without manually delving into it yourself. Working with PCmover is very much like taking a quiz and when you’re done, you’re presented with the results.
Granted, there will be some hiccups along the way because PCmover isn’t compatible with every software ever created but for the most part, it will generally be pretty reliable. If you’re not used to reinstalling your operating system or migrating to a new computer, using PCmover will definitely make your life easier.
We’re giving away 10 free copies of PCmover Professional this week. Here’s how you can get a copy for yourself.
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This giveaway begins now and ends on Friday, September 16th at 2100hrs ACST. The winners will be selected at random and announced via email.
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