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Issue #790: September 11-17, 2022

Q: I don’t have a question but wanted to tell you Happy Birthday!  I read your column every week in the Odessa American and always look forward to it. And I sometimes will learn a thing or two.  So, thank you for your column.

– Judy W.
Odessa, Texas

(Geek Note: I.G.T.M. had its 15th birthday back in July.  Since I do my best to run questions in the order I receive them, it can take as many as 8 weeks or more for a reader submission to appear.  So, I’m shamefully behind in acknowledging Judy’s well-wishes.)

 A: Judy, thank-you so much for taking the time out of your busy day to write-in for no other reason than to send me a little greeting to acknowledge the column’s milestone.  There must be something pretty special about people with your initials!  So, here’s a great big Geeky hello back to Texas from here in the Florida panhandle, where It’s Geek To Me originates each week.  Thanks for supporting my column in the best way possible: by being a weekly reader, occasionally learning something, and writing-in to keep the stuff that fuels the column flowing.  ‘Preciate ya!

 Q: I have a new computer, a Dell running Windows 10. My old Dell Windows 7 machine is starting to act up, so I need to move the files. Is there a way to hook up the two and move the files easily or do I have to use a flash drive to move everything?  I do have everything backed up to Carbonite on a nightly basis.

– Crystal G.
Baker, Florida

A:  When you get a new PC, you don’t really need to move “everything.”  In fact, you shouldn’t.  Your new computer came with its own copy of Windows, configured with everything needed for it to run properly. Simply copying over everything from the old one will cause any number of problems.  It is also not possible to simply copy most other software to a new computer.  Almost all modern Windows software must be put onto a system by running its installer.  This allows it to establish registry keys, register file extensions, and perform many other setup tasks that you probably don’t care about.

That leaves your data files.  Let me be clear – “data files” include any files that get used by a program to perform some purpose.  That includes music, photos, word processor documents, and so forth.  Basically, the input to, or output from any program you might run.  As long as you haven’t been trying to fight Windows and the folders in which it wants you to place your files, the process is relatively easy, Crystal.  Your old Windows 7 machine will have folders like My Documents, My Music, My Photos, and so forth that well-behaved programs use to store their data.  These folders have direct counterparts under Windows 10.  You can divide the work and copy the folders over one at a time.  That makes it more feasible to use a flash drive as a shuttle device, but that’s not the only alternative.

Once you get both your old and new PCs online on your home network, they are essentially connected. You can copy data directly from one to the other over your LAN.  There are many commercial products that do this, but with a little bit of geeky smarts you can do it without any extra software. 

On the new PC, create a folder anywhere that’s convenient for you.  Right on the desktop will do.  Name it something you can remember, like Transfer.  Right-click the new folder and select “Properties.”  Go to the Sharing tab, and click “Share…”  Things can get rather complicated at this point, as you start dealing with security, and authorized users.  Just ignore all that and share it with yourself only.  Click “Share” to complete the process.

If all goes well, you’ll see the message “Your folder is shared.”  Under the “Individual Items” list you’ll see the folder you shared, and more importantly, the network path to access it from another computer.  Go to your Windows 7 machine, and open a file browser, and enter that string, including the leading backward slashes and everything.  You should find yourself looking at the folder on the new PC.  You can now copy anything you want to this folder, and from there, move it to its proper location.  Do this for each of the data folders I mentioned above, and repeat until you have all your files move


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