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Tech Talk with Greg Bailey

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It’s the holidays, and with the season of giving comes a possibility of new electronics, or more specifically a new computer. Getting a new computer is always nice since computers age much more quickly than almost anything else (ten years or older is beyond ancient in computer terms). Having a faster machine with more space is incredibly helpful for any user.

At the same time, there may be a little apprehension about starting from scratch with a new computer. It can be a bit of a hassle to set it up; but even more important is that many people have their current computer set up exactly how they like it. They don’t want to change how their computer works, even if that change will also make it run better.

I’m going to talk about some methods to ease the transition shock when it comes to setting up a new computer. Often a complete transfer of everything on the old computer isn’t necessary. You should have all the CDs or keys that were used to install programs on the old computer, reinstalling them on the new computer works just as well as transferring all the files. In many cases this will be a requirement, especially if the new computer has a different operating system. This can take a bit of time, especially if the program requires an online installation as opposed to an installation from a CD, but a fresh install is never a bad idea.

Some programs will have specific settings or files that don’t come with installation. The most common one would be Internet browser settings. If a browser is installed on a new computer, it won’t have your Favorite websites, saved passwords, and other similar information. If you’ve spent time building these things up and have gotten used to having them, losing all of it can be unacceptable. Luckily, most, if not all, browsers have a way for the user to create a file that has all of these settings saved (this is typically called Exporting). This option is typically found in the Favorites area; if you can’t find it, or are having trouble, a quick Google search should provide easy instructions. Other programs might have a similar way to export your settings.

Exported files like the ones described above, along with personal files, must all be transferred from the old computer to the new, and there are a few different ways to do this. If the files don’t take up that much memory, putting them on something like a CD or flash drive is the easiest way to transfer the files. It’s also possible to put the files online on the old computer, and download them with the new one. However, when the files that need to be transferred start taking up a lot of memory (something like a medium to large photo album), these methods will be harder to use since they come with a set maximum size. Multiple transfers can be done, but that is tedious and can become messy.

When files that take up a larger amount of memory than portable devices or free online services can handle need to be transferred, there are still some other options. If possible, getting both of the computers on the same local network allows for easy transfer (though it can take time).

Alternatively, use of an external hard drive can make the smaller transfers described above, or even a full transfer, quick and easy.

Those are the basics for getting important files and settings information from an old computer to a new one, next week we will look at ways to do the same, except with a full transfer instead of a partial one.

Any questions, requests for clarifications, or comments can be sent to gregbailey9@ gmail.com. Greg Bailey is a Computer Science major at UCR.

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