File Transfer: Personal Settings

You’ve purchased a new computer and you don’t want to lose a thing!  What do you copy, and where can you copy it to?  I’ll give you a run down on where all of your main settings are so you don’t have to miss a beat!

**ABOUT PROGRAMS** When you purchase a new computer you can not transfer programs from one computer to the other.  Files and settings, yes.  Actual programs like Microsoft Office you must install from a CD again on the new computer.  Many people I know do not understand this, and think that programs can just be transferred to a different computer.

First, we all know the obvious.  Documents are typically stored in “My Documents”.  In XP the path to find the documents folder is C:\Documents & Settings\”your username” This folder is where you will find almost all the settings I’m going to discuss today.  In Vista and Windows 7 the path you will use is C:\Users\”your username”.  To get to “C:” open my computer and then double click on the drive labeled “C” 

I would copy the entire “My Documents” folder and paste it to an external drive.  Depending on the size of your My Documents folder you may be able to get away with using a USB drive.  Most likely you’ll that extra hard drive handy anyway, so just get one of those.

The next thing you will want to grab would be your pictures.  They may already be within that My Documents folder, or My Pictures will be a seperate folder within your user directory. 

If you are using Internet Explorer you will probably want to copy over your internet favorites.  These are located in a folder appropriately named “Favorites”.  Again, you will want to just copy the entire folder. 

Another often forgotten folder is your desktop.  If you’ve spent time creating shortcuts to certain files or programs, you’ll probably want those to copy over.  Or if you are using your desktop as a storage location, you will definitely want to copy the files that are on your desktop too.

If you are using Outlook you will want to copy over your .pst (the type of file that outlook uses to store all of your emails/contacts/calendar/etc.)  The best way to find where this file is located is by going in outlook and right clicking on “Personal Folders”.  Select “Properties” and then click on “Advanced”.  The filename box will tell you exactly where your .pst is.  Browse to the folder and copy just the .pst and paste to your external drive. 

Now comes the easy part.  Plug the hard drive into your new computer and move the files back to the correct locations.  Documents to Documents, Pictures to Pictures, etc.  To get your Outlook emails back, open up Outlook and click File, Import and Export.  Select Import From Another Program or File and click next.  Find Personal Folder File (.pst) and click next.  Click on “browse” and find your file on your external hard drive.  Keep the options on the next screen default, and then click finish. 

Now sit back and enjoy your new PC with all of your same files and settings!

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website

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