A review of the Laplink PCmover software may not seem like an obvious choice for this travel gear blog, but I'll give any product a shout 0ut if it makes your travel life easier. This file transfer software definitely fits the bill. At $50 to $70 it isn't the cheapest thing out there, but it does everything it is supposed to do--almost like magic--and if time is money, this thing more than pays for itself.
The simple promise is that it will take all the data from your old computer and transfer it to that shiny new one you just bought. If you're the type who has a laptop filled with vacation photos, thousands of songs, and a few years' worth of software programs and utilities, PCmover can keep you from having to take days out of your life to move files around and fix the resulting problems.
It makes sense to first clean up the old computer, removing all the junk you don't need anymore and those files you should have deleted years ago but never got around to. Because every megabyte you have to move is going to add transfer time to the process. Then you install the software on both machines, which means you'll probably need to switch the mouse, monitor, and keyboard back and forth unless you have two of each.
After the software is installed, you connect the included USB cable, follow the wizard instructions, and let it rip. The best way to do this is to set it up one evening and let it transfer all night. If you have USB 2.0 connections on both ends, it'll probably be done by morning. If not, it could take longer if you have a lot to transfer. In my case a freak storm knocked out power in the middle of the night, in the middle of the transfer. No problem though--the software picked up where it left off after the restart.
The results? Amazingly, every program I had on the old computer is working except the virus scan one and a network management one. In a couple of cases I had to reenter my license number, so you may want to pull out those files and messages first. Impressively, my Thunderbird and Outlook e-mail programs worked just the same as before (with all messages retained), my desktop looked exactly the same down to the wallpaper, and a second hard drive I had on the old machine was just transferred over to a different folder labeled "D drive" on the new one.
Note that it moves from the same Windows OS to another or to a newer one (like from XP to Vista) but not in the other direction. If you have Vista, make sure you get the newest version of PCmover.
It's an all-too-rare occurrence when a piece of software does exactly what you want it to do and doesn't require any workarounds, bug fixes, or surprise updates. Highly recommended.
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