Switching To A New PC: What To Expect & How To Make The Switch Smooth
Posted on: June 13th, 2011
The average life span of a desktop computer is about 5-6 years, and 3-4 years for a laptop. So from time to time you’d need to get a new computer. The transition is not always as smooth as one might expect but there are some tips that can help you make things easier.The Software
The biggest major issue when switching to a new computer is that software applications are, in the most part, are not transferable. The reason is that they have copy protection mechanisms that prevent them from working if they are simply copied from one machine to another. That means that the software that you used before will need to be re-installed from the original CDs or downloads.
TIP: when you purchase a software then make sure that you put both the disk(s) and the product key together in a safe location that you can find later. If you purchase a software download then burn the downloaded file(s) onto a disk and print out the product key to it and keep those in a safe place as well. Hard drives do crash so your downloads and the email with the product key could get lost. This is a common sense protection of your investment.
If you purchase a computer that has pre-installed paid software on it then insist on getting it on a disk as well. This will help save you money in the future if you happen to have to reinstall the software later.
TIP: Before switching to a new computer, make a complete list of all of the software applications that you use, frequently or infrequently. If any of these are not freely available software then make sure that you have the disks for them, or some other way of re-installing them.
Transferring the data is usually a straightforward process as long as you use popular software. The location of the user files created by these software applications are well known and proper transfer techniques exist. But if you are using a rare kind of software then it might get tricky to transfer the data. For example: we serviced a lady who purchased a new computer and we transferred her information from one computer to another. After thoroughly checking through all known locations of data it seemed like everything was transferred. A few days later, though, she realized that her calendar/greeting card software is missing all the birthday and other event data. After some digging around we found that this particular software stored its data in an odd location that I would have never thought. But we found it, transferred it and everything was back to normal.
TIP: It greatly facilitates the transfer if users save their own files onto the designated user folders (eg: (My) Documents, (My) Pictures, etc.) If they are located at unusual locations then it’s possible that they might get missed and subsequently lost. Saving files or folders directly onto the C: drive’s main folder should be avoided.
Hardware and Software Compatibility
Microsoft comes out with a new version of Windows every 2-3 years. So it’s likely that your new machine will have a different version of Windows that the old one had. This, in some cases, creates problems.
Some older hardware might not have the software that makes it work available for the new Windows. It happens mainly with 8yrs or older printers which are no longer supported by their manufacturers.
Also, software that is 7-8yr or older might not work with the current machines. They are usually trying to use features that are no longer supported in the operating system (Windows). Even though Microsoft makes efforts to facilitate running of older software it’s not always working.
In these cases of old, outdated hardware or software it might become necessary to purchase new ones. Or if they are irreplaceable then some advanced techniques exist that allow them to be used on the new system. But generally, if possible, getting an up-to-date hardware or software is the better option.
User Interface Changes
Microsoft’s software engineers have a bad habit of re-arranging and/or renaming things in the new versions of Windows. It can be very frustrating sometimes but, fortunately, all the basic things stay the same -they might be just somewhere else. The search features in Vista and Windows 7 are actually very useful and time saving when you need to find something. We have an article on that subject that you might want to read: Searching Your Computer
TIP: If you are intimidated, confused or frustrated about the changes then you can use some freely available resources to get the hang of the new system. You can borrow a “For Dummies” or “Absolute Beginner’s” type of book from the local library and read it through while trying out the various things so that you have experience with it. There’s also an excellent online resource at www.lynda.com. It has training videos on a very large scope of subject including the various Windows version’s. You can watch the beginning episodes in each series for free and if you are interested then you can buy a subscription and get access to the whole library of educational videos. Everybody I referred to this site came back satisfied so I can recommend it with no reservation.
Most computers come with lots of unnecessary software. Trials for this or that, advertisements, etc. It’s particularly true of cheaper machines where the manufacturer offsets the costs of the machine by accepting advertisement money from software companies and puts their trial software on the machine in exchange.
The good news is that these can be removed fairly easily. Although, it’ll require some familiarity with the various software applications so that you know what’s needed and what’s not. A little program called PCDeCrapifier (that is its real name!) is a useful tool that you can run when you get a new computer so that it starts with a cleaner slate not cluttered by unwanted software. You can download it from: http://www.pcdecrapifier.com/
Getting a New Computer Because the Old One Died
This is a frequent situation, actually. The good news is that in most cases the data is intact on the hard drive, even though the computer itself might not show signs of life. The hard drive can be taken out and accessed. Even computers that have been in a fire has a chance of their data being preserved. BUT backups are very highly recommended nevertheless.
We usually only recommend not fixing a computer if it has major issues that would cost nearly as much, or more than getting a new machine, or if it’s so old that we can’t find parts for it. Desktop computers are much more easily fixable than laptop machines. That’s one of the reasons for the significant difference in life expectancy between these two types of computers.
The case of a dead machine sometimes presents challenges because, according to Murphy’s law, it happens when the owner least expects it and least prepared for it. But if the disks for the software that’s installed on the computer are in order then setting up the new machine is usually smooth sail.
What to Do With the Old, Dead Machine?
We can actually safely dispose of your old machine by wiping or destroying it’s hard drive so that nobody can recover data from it and delivering them to a metal/electronics recycling place. You don’t have to keep them in the garage.
We also make flower boxes out of them )
Switching to a new computer is always a bit challenging, except for the geeks, but if you do a little homework by keeping your computer disks organized and keeping, or knowing, what software you use on the machine then it’s usually not very complicated.
We have quite a bit of experience in helping people switch from one computer to another and can make it a much less frustrating experience for you.
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