Data Transfer: Gene's Computer Outlet


1 Transferring between one computer and another copyright 1999-2000

2 Transferring from one hard drive to another in the same computer (upgrading hard drive)

3 Data from work you create (documents, checkbook information, book marks, address book)

4 Actual Programs/Applications

5 Device Drivers


The entire contents of a hard drive from your old computer can not be transferred to a new computer. It also can not be transferred to any other computer including a similar one. The Windows installation sets up files based on a particular configuration of that computer. There are hardware differences and address differences. Two identical computers may use different addresses for normal devices including serial and parallel ports, display controller, and other devices that are part of the motherboard. When a program is installed into Windows, it places 95% of it into its own directory, but adds certain files into Windows so Windows knows how to use it. Therefore, programs or applications can not be transferred. You must re-install the application into the new computer. There is also no way to save device drivers from one computer to use in another. You can get the device driver names and try to copy them to disk for the attempted re-installation, but the system will never see them if you place them where they belong because an INF file is required to plant other information into the REGISTRY for Windows to see and use the drivers.

Using a special program, you can transfer your contents from a small hard drive to a new larger one in the same computer as long as you do not exceed the BIOS limitation, the Operating system limitation, and that there are no errors that would prevent the transfer. Scandisk will correct most errors but there are some that can not be corrected. DEFRAG should also be run before this transfer. Windows 95 original version has a 2 GB partition limitation and frequently, some computers have a 2GB or an 8 GB limitation. We have found that some computers that have both of these limitations are not consistent. As an example, one computer had an 8.2 GB while another had an 8.4 GB limitation. Placing a hard drive larger than 8.2 GB, a 8.4 GB for instance, simply would not work when the BIOS only recognized 8.2 GB. The answer here was to install a 6GB or 4 GB for the customer.

The bottom line is you must save your Windows CD, original program application disks, and driver disks where they can be found for future use. COA numbers are also needed (Certificate of Authenticity) for Windows and each application. In case of upgrades, save the older original programs or Windows because they may be required to use the upgrade disk, including the original registration number. In cases where you obtain a computer with "preinstalled" software, you need to obtain the proper disks to reinstall everything including the operating system, all applications, and especially the drivers.

Tape drives are not much good with Windows 95 or 98. When you try to restore a tape after a major software glitch or hard drive replacement, you find that most files appear to be there, but the computer doesn't boot. The tape does not store "files in use" that are running at the time the backup is run. Most tape drive manufacturers claim that it will work in their ads and documentation but when it doesn't, you get a big surprise. If you call tech support, they will have you try many things and then simply tell you to re-install everything. The tape drive does serve a purpose in that it most likely will backup all your data from the hard drive. Restoring may be a different story.

As a computer user, you are ultimately responsible to back up all your data. I am referring to the documents you type, the spread sheet you create, the bookmarks or address book you need to save, or the checkbook accounting information you created in your checkbook program. Typically, it is all over the hard drive. That means you need to know where all of it is. The best way is to start a log and each time you install a program, locate where the data is stored, log that location, and make sure it is backed up. Few ever do this.

Typically, most word documents and spreadsheets go into the "My Documents" folder. Quicken accounting information usually goes into a "Quickenw" folder as" file.qxx" files. If you move around with Windows Explorer, suddenly documents start saving in the last place you leave Windows Explorer and you need to make sure you "Save As" and watch that it is re-directed back to "MY Documents". I have found WORKS documents buried in "Program Files\Works\" and even in other places. Look for them and collect them if they are all over.

A CD Burner can be handy in many cases because you can burn one or more CD's collecting all your folders or directories. Just be sure you do not restore anything except "DATA". Many times, data from a CD comes back to the hard drive as a "read only" file and you must change the attributes before you can write to them or open them. Copy all directories except the Windows directory. If you try to copy folders in use, the program will most likely report the files are all copied, but it actually stops when it finds the "SWAP" file and other in use files.

There is a better way to back up. Obtain an IOMEGA 2 GB JAZZ Drive, Castlewood ORB drive, or a dedicated second hard drive that can be taken off line after an image is created. Create the image before your hard drive gets too junked up. Typically, you want to do this while you still have 2 GB or less on the C drive. You will be able to restore an image containing your operating system, all programs installed at that time, drivers, and data. Also keep a separate cartridge of just data so you can retrieve the data without restoring the image. The image is not a way to get individual files back. A second hard drive that is "on line" is subject to fail just as easily as the main hard drive, either from virus, or hardware failure. A cartridge removed from the system is usually quite safe, less you loose it or break it. If you get creative, you can place an image on a CD, but this is quite tricky.

We offer the services of creating duplicate drives, images, and CD backups of your hard drive should you wish. You should decide whether you are going to be the one to restore the backup or have us do it. The method we may use is determined by your choice. If you want control, we will include the program in the cost and use that program rather than our licensed professional version of a different software publisher.