How to copy information from one computer to another
Below is a listing of all the different ways you can copy information from one computer to another computer. Review each of the below solutions to decide what works best for you.
Note: When copying information, only copy the data files. For example, do not copy the Microsoft Word program. Only copy Microsoft Word documents and then install Microsoft Word on the new computer.
Tip: Microsoft Windows users can find most of their data files, pictures, and documents in the Documents or My Documents folder.
If you have a network or plan on setting up a network, consider transferring and sharing files between computers on the local area network. A network is the fastest means of transferring files between your computers, and once setup, it allows to you to continue to share files.
- How to set up my own home network.
- How to share a folder or directory in Windows.
- Computer network help and support.
Over the cloud
Online cloud services make it easy to move and share data between multiple computers and other devices. Our favorite online cloud services are Google Drive and Dropbox. Once in the cloud, any device with Internet access can access the data.
USB hard drives and USB thumb drives are an easy way to transfer data between computers and a good backup solution. Once information has been copied to the device, it can be connected and transferred to the another computer.
A USB to USB connector allows you to transfer information from one computer to another computer over a USB cable. This solution is sometimes easier to setup than a standard Ethernet network and still allows an unlimited amount of data to be shared. If both computers are Windows-based, you can use the built-in Windows Easy Transfer program to perform the data transfer (called Files and Settings Transfer Wizard in Windows XP). You also need an Easy Transfer USB cable for this process to work effectively.
USB to USB connectors are found online and at most major computer retail stores.
Internet and e-mail
Today, there are dozens of online services that allow you to move and copy files from one computer to another computer. Alternatively, if you have only a few files you want to copy, you may want to consider just sending the files through e-mail.
Note: Many e-mail providers limit the size of a file that can be attached and sent through e-mail. Check with your e-mail provider to determine the maximum file size attachment allowed in your e-mail messages.
- How to send an attachment or photo through e-mail.
- Where can I post my pictures, movies, or other files online for free?
CD and DVD
If you do not have any USB drives, burning your information to a CD or DVD is another good solution to move files from one computer to another.
For older computers that do not have a disc burner, USB, or the Internet, copying files to a floppy disk may be your only alternative. However, if you need to copy large amounts of data from one computer to another, you should try an alternate solution since a floppy disk does not hold much information.
- How to copy a large file or directory to a floppy diskette.
- Computer Floppy disk drive help and support.
Direct serial connect
Direct serial connection is a method of connecting older computers together using the serial port and a serial cable. Although a much slower solution of connecting computers to each other, this may be the only solution for computers without Internet access, drives, or USB.
Hard drive transfer
If you are attempting to transfer files from a computer that no longer works, the hard drive can be removed from the bad computer and placed into a good computer to transfer the information.
For example, you could remove the hard drive from a laptop and connect it directly to another computer. To do this, you would need a hard drive enclosure kit that is designed for laptop hard drives. This enclosure kit turns the hard drive into an external hard drive and allows you to connect it to any computer using the included USB cable. You can then transfer files off the laptop hard drive onto the other computer.
Tip: A hard drive enclosure kit is also available for desktop computer hard drives.