Tips for Copying Files

Tips for Copying Files From an Old Computer to a New Computer

You’ve just bought a new computer, how exciting! It’s WAY faster than your previous one, it doesn’t crash, and WOW the hard drive is GINORMOUS! Then you realize… all your documents and pictures are on your other computer, not to mention your internet explorer favorites list! Have no fear, we can get it all copied over in no time.

There are several methods to use, and we will discuss a few of them, but this is certainly not an exhaustive list, although I think these are the easiest and quickest methods.

1) Figure out which files you want to move 

First off, we need to figure out what needs to be moved. Usually, your “My Documents” folder as well as your “My Pictures”, “My Music” and your “Favorites” and any documents you’ve saved to your desktop are all that need to be moved unless you’ve created specific folders elsewhere. If you’ve created folders elsewhere, be sure to include those into your list.

If you have multiple users, this will need to be done for each user.

Tips for Copying Files

2) Find the files to move 

To find these folders, first let’s note where your Favorites are located. If you are using Windows XP, it is located at C:Documents and Settingsuser namefavorites and if you are using Windows 7, it is located at C:Usersuser nameFavorites. Replace the “user name” with your user name.

Next, let’s find your “My Pictures”, “My Music, and “MyDocuments”. Good news! Your “My Pictures” and “My Music” is located INSIDE your “My Documents” if you are using Windows XP, so as long as you copy everything in your “My Documents” folder, you should also get your pictures and music. Your “My Documents” folder is located at C:Documents and Settingsuser nameMy Documents for Windows XP. If you are using Windows 7 or 8, they have changed this. Your music and pictures are now stored in their own folders at C:Usersuser nameMy Music and C:Usersuser nameMy Pictures. Your desktop items are easily found, just copy them directly from your desktop into the area decided upon in the next section.

Also note, you cannot move installed software from one computer to another without the install files / CD. It’s a common misconception that you can transfer old programs like Microsoft Word to a new computer. You can only do this if you have the CD/DVD to install it. Also, to comply with licensing, you might need to uninstall from your oldcomputer before installing onto your new computer. Check your licensing agreement to figure out what needs to be done or just give them a call and ask.

3) Use Dropbox 

If you aren’t using dropbox already to backup your files and or your pictures, you’re missing out! I use it for EVERYTHING. Best of all, up to 2GB of data, it’s free and if you follow a few simple steps, you can increase that amount (still for free!). So how does that help us now? Go sign up for a dropbox account at Once that’s done, install it on your old PC and your new PC. Put all the files we previously discussed (My Documents, Favorites, My Pictures, and My Music) from your old computer into your dropbox folder and it will automatically sync both computers together. Once they are sync’d, you can then move the files in your dropbox folder on your new computer to where they need to go. If you have too much data, you can do it in increments. Move your My Documents folder, then your Pictures and Music afterwards.

4) External USB Hard Drive

Another option if you have a LOT of data (more than 3-5GB) to move or you don’t want to spend the time with dropbox, is using an external USB Hard Drive. You can purchase a 2TB drive for about $100. Attach the drive to your oldcomputer, copy the previously discussed files, and then move them to your new locations on your new computer.

I hope these steps have helped you move your files from your old computer to your new one. This doesn’t cover every situation, as that would be virtually impossible, but this will cover 90% of all users out there.

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