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Backing Up Your Computer & Moving Files to a New PC

Sonny Stires wrote to ask if there is an easy way of backing up his computer's entire hard drive. Yes, there are easy ways of making a backup that would restore everything to the same computer from which the data was copied. However, these backups should not be expected to transfer all the data to a new computer for a variety of technical reasons having mainly to do with hardware differences between the two machines.

My suggestion for doing a total and ongoing backup is to use a USB-connectable external hard drive. I use a Maxtor that comes with a program called Retrospect, which can be configured to do a daily backup complete with updating existing files that have been edited since the previous backup.

In the event of a hard drive failure, Retrospect can restore the drive to its most recent status, complete with the Windows operating system and all your personal files.

If your main purpose is to transfer data to a new computer, your personal files can be easily copied to and from an external hard drive. Your applications, however, such as a word processor or an image-editing program would need to be installed on the new PC from their original CDs.

If your personal files are relatively few and small, one or more USB flash memory drives can (a.k.a thumb drives or stick drives) be used instead of an external hard drive.

Moving Your Files to a New Computer

If your main purpose for copying personal files is to put them on a different computer, check out a product called The Tornado at It is a cable with USB connectors at each end and a processor in between that enables fast and efficient copying of files from one computer" to another. The device sells for about $65.

There are several different brands of external hard drives and USB flash memory drives. I recommend doing price comparisons and product reviews on sites such as and These sites post reviews by actual buyers and users of the various products.

Sonny also asked if there is an easy way to copy his favorite links from his Internet Explorer "Favorites" folder into folders he creates on his Desktop. Well, I gave up using the IE "Favorites" system a long time ago. When I discover a site that interests me I simply grab the icon preceding the site's URL in the address bar and drag it onto my Desktop or into a Desktop folder I created for this purpose. You can also drag the icon preceding a site's name from the IE Favorites folder into one of your own.

Create a folder by right-clicking your Desktop, choosing New>Folder, and typing in a name. Of course folders can be dragged into other folders so you can create your own hierarchy of folders that contain links to your favorite sites. The same applies to Firefox and Netscape "Bookmarks" as well as to AOL "Favorite Places."

© - Donald Ray Edrington - 2007 - All Rights Reserved

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