Gartner, the research firm, estimates that 43 million PCs were sold worldwide in the last quarter alone. That comes out to 200 million PCs this year, or about half a million a day. A large chunk of these PCs are going to customers who have important data and programs on their old PCs that they need to transfer over. This article looks at the ways this transfer can be achieved.
First, the distinction in the treatment of data vs programs needs to be made. Copying data is relatively easy. Transferring programs over from the old (Source) PC to the new (Target) PC is a different proposition. In certain operating systems - like DOS and Linux - the installation of a program involves relatively little or no background activity. All the files and directories required to run the program are conveniently stored in a directory created for the purpose. Moving that program over to another PC involved no more than copying that whole directory across. Windows has taken that beautifully simple process and applied a complexity to it in a way that only Windows can. Seemless program transferring across PCs is now almost an impossibility.
When a program is installed in Windows there is still the creation of a directory (called a "folder" in Windows) for that program, but a lot more happens behind the scenes. Files are added to the Windows folder, files are added to other folders, some existing files are changed, the registry is modified and all of this makes it tricky to transfer a program over from one PC to another. Successive versions of Windows came with vast improvements in reliability and security Ė or not - but with each new version of Windows the integration of program and operating system got more and more involved.
What happens now if only the program folder is copied over? Thatís an exercise in futility, since the program wonít actually run. It needs to be installed on the target PC, not copied to it. And that requires the original installation disk. Or does it? Assuming there was an easy way of transferring programs over... the job is still not done.
Itís not just data and programs that need transferring over. Users often spend a great deal of time personalising their PCs, setting passwords, creating email accounts, doing their banking etc. In an ideal world the user wants to see the target PC seemlessly take over; they donít want to go through all the settings, transfer all their email, email rules and address books, fine tune all their application software, games and utilities, recreate templates, personalise their Windows settings etc.
So how is the setting up of the target PC most seemlessly and easily achieved? First, a look at the process of connectivity Ė for any data, program or setting to be copied over the source PC and the target PC need to have some way of talking to each other and transferring files across from one to the other. There are two primary ways of doing this Ė choosing from a range of external media, or connecting the target PC directly to the data on the source PCís hard disk.
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