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Ways to Move Information from Your Old PC to Windows 8

Windows 8's Easy Transfer offers three different ways to copy your old PC’s information into your new PC. Each method works at a different level of speed and difficulty. Here are the contenders:

  • Easy Transfer cable: Your least-expensive and easiest solution, this special cable resembles a normal USB cable that has swallowed a mouse: The cable usually bulges in the middle. These cables cost less than $20 at most electronics stores or online. Plug one end into each PC’s USB port, and you’re ready to copy. (No, a normal USB cable won’t work.)

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    Older Easy Transfer cables made for Windows Vista or Windows 7 should still work fine with Windows 8.

    If you’re transferring from a Windows XP or Vista PC through an Easy Transfer cable, be sure to install the Easy Transfer cable’s bundled drivers. (You needn’t worry about drivers in newer Windows versions because Windows 7 and Windows 8 automatically recognize the cable as soon as you plug it into a USB port.)

  • External hard disk: Windows 8 calls it an external hard disk, but everybody else calls it a portable hard drive. But no matter what it’s called, the little box costs between $75 and $150, and it makes copying your information quick and easy. Some portable drives plug into both a wall outlet and your PC’s USB port; others draw their power right from the USB port.

  • Flash drive: These little memory sticks, often spotted sprouting from nerds’ key chains, plug into a computer’s USB port. Unfortunately, they usually lack enough storage space to hold all your old computer’s files. Flash drives work great, however, for copying the Windows 8 Easy Transfer program to your old Windows XP or Windows Vista PC.

  • Network: If you’ve linked your two PCs through a network, the Windows Easy Transfer program can transfer your old PC’s information that way.

If your PCs aren’t connected through a network and they live more than a cable’s reach apart, a portable hard drive is your best option. Choose one with as much capacity as the hard drive inside your new PC. After you’ve transferred the files, you can use the hard drive to back up your files automatically with the easy-to-use Windows 8 File History program.

Windows Easy Transfer can’t transfer files from a 64-bit computer to a 32-bit computer. However, this rarely presents a problem because older computers are mostly 32-bit and newer computers are usually 64-bit.

For more information about Windows 8 and its features, explore Windows 8 For Dummies, available online.

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