BOOT CAMP 488 (07/08/07)
Moving to a new PC part 4
If you are uncomfortable with the idea of
transplanting the hard drive from your old PC into your new machine (see Boot
Camp 487) then this week’s selection of data transfer techniques, using
removable storage media, should prove a lot less intimidating.
It’s a simple enough concept and one that dates back
to the earliest days of personal computing. It involves copying the data you
want to move from your old PC onto a portable storage medium, which can be then
read by and transferred to the hard drive in your new computer.
Up until ten years ago this meant using floppy discs.
Back then half a dozen floppies would have been enough to transport a few
folders worth of documents, email addresses and web bookmarks. Clearly floppies
are no longer any use, even for single files, which often exceed the disc’s
1.4Mb limit, let alone folders containing many hundreds of megabytes of data,
which brings us to the current range of options now available to most PC
Starting with the smallest capacity media we have the
recordable CD, which provides 650 or 700Mb of uncompressed storage space.
Recordable CDs, whether they are write once (CD-R) or Rewritable (CD-RW) types
are one of the least attractive options for large scale data transfer because
they are slow and unreliable, moreover the old or ‘source’ PC must be equipped
with a CD-writer drive. They only became a standard fitment five or six years
ago, which leaves a lot of old Windows 9x computers out in the cold. Of course
it is possible to retrofit an older PC with a CD writer, or use an external CD
writer drive but this will involve some expense, or removing the lid, at which
point you might as well have saved yourself a lot of time and trouble and used
the slave disc method outlined last week.
At first glance the greatly increased capacities of
recordable DVDs would seem to be a much better prospect. Indeed, with 4.7Gb of
storage space to play with they can make fairly short work of most routine
transfer jobs, but the same problems arise with older PCs not having suitable
drives, and grafting the technology onto a cranky Windows 98 machine is often
fraught with problems.
Recording large volumes of data onto optical media
can also be very time consuming and although many drives have what appear to be
fast recording speeds, in practice higher speeds often result in errors and
corrupt discs are no use to anyone.
If your old PC has a working CD or DVD writer and you
can comfortably fit the files and folders you want to move onto no more than
two or three discs them by all means use it but be aware that there are quicker
and more efficient methods, like solid-state or ‘Flash’ memory.
Flash memory devices like ‘Pen Drives’ are the
natural successors to the floppy disc; they are readily available, cheap,
usually very reliable, useable on most PCs made within the last ten years and
available in capacities of 32Gb and beyond. There is one small caveat, however.
Windows ME onwards has built-in support for USB memory devices, so no problem
there, but Windows on 98 and 98SE PCs you need to install a ‘driver’. Most
major manufacturers either supply them with the drive, or make them available
on their websites but a small minority of USB drives simply will not work on
these operating systems, and you can usually forget it on Windows 95. See also
this week’s Top Tip.
The plus side is speed and ease of use; simply pop
the drive into a USB socket on your old PC, Windows will recognise it as a
removable drive and you can just copy and paste or drag and drop your folders
onto the drive icon until it is full up and the process is reversed when you
move the drive to your XP or Vista computer. USB connectivity plays a key role
in the last family of portable storage devices we’re looking at this week. They
are external hard disc drives, which have become very popular very quickly
because they offer almost unlimited capacity for storage and backup and they
are exceptionally easy to use. Like USB flash drives you simply plug them into
the PC’s USB port and the drive icon appears in My Computer and Windows
Explorer, and it is immediately ready to use. The same provisos apply about the
need for drivers on most Windows 9x PCs, and there may be some issues with
older versions of Windows being able to access drives larger than 64 or 137Gb,
but these can usually be resolved with downloadable patches. The only things to
watch out for with external drives is that some models are prone to
overheating, so make sure cooling air is free to circulate around he case, and
they are vulnerable to shock and vibration, especially when recording data, so
make sure the case is going to get knocked or fall off the desk.
Next Week – Moving to a new PC part 5
A program or
data file that tells Windows how to communicate with a particular piece of
hardware, like a video adaptor, modem, printer, web cam, USB Memory Stick etc.
for pre XP Windows, i.e. Windows 95, 98, SE and ME
TIP OF THE WEEK
There’s nothing to stop you using any of the other types of Flash
memory to transport your data from one PC to another. If you have a suitable
USB card reader you can utilise the memory cards used in your digital cameras,
PDAs, mobile phones and MP3 players, provided they have sufficient capacity. At
a pinch you could also use your MP3 player or iPod to move your files and
folders, though obviously you will have to find somewhere else to store your
music tracks for the duration.
© R. Maybury 2007, 1807
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