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Transferring data is not difficult

When purchasing a new computer, there is often information to be transferred from an older computer. While it can be time-consuming, it is not difficult to transfer data files.

The favorite mantra of computer service technicians is “back up your data.” That is exactly what is required in order to transfer your files to a new computer. This task will be easiest if you have organized your files with folders and directories. It is also a good time to sort through and delete the files that are no longer needed. Files can be saved to a disc, flash drive or external hard drive. The same files are then opened in the new computer and saved to that hard drive.

Depending on which media is used, simply insert a disk, USB flash drive, or USB connection to the external drive to view and save files. Be aware that viruses can be contained in data files, and could possibly infect the new computer. There are many types of files and it is important to know which need to be transferred.

If a technician transfers data, he or she backs up everything stored under My Docs and My Pictures, as well as other directories specified by the user. Other frequently requested files include e-mail archives and Internet favorites. Files are then saved on the hard drive of the new computer. Since this process can be time-consuming and requires caution and knowledge of where to find specific files, it is not our least expensive type of service.

If the old computer has a damaged hard drive, more intensive data recovery is required. Specially designed software runs for hours at a time to attempt to retrieve damaged files. Data files are somewhat more likely to be salvaged than photos. At our shop, if we are unable to recover data, we refer customers to another company that utilizes a clean room and specialized equipment in their attempt to retrieve data. This service can cost several hundred to thousands of dollars.

Programs or applications in use on an old computer are not transferrable. According to copyright laws, programs are licensed to the purchaser only and must be loaded onto a computer using the manufacturer’s disk and the license key obtained at purchase. Many copies of Microsoft Office, for example, have been discarded along with an old computer because the disks and license key could not be found.

Many years ago, when computers were much more costly, a new computer often included a copy of Microsoft Office. Now that computers are much less expensive, software is sold separately. The current purchase price of Microsoft Office is several hundred dollars for the full version. To offer our customers an alternative, we often include a free program called Open Office when selling used computers. Open Office is a product of Sun Microsystems and is available for download at It provides excellent word processing, spreadsheet and database capabilities that are very similar to Microsoft Office. Open Office documents can be saved as Microsoft documents, making them accessible and easy to edit with Microsoft Office. When saving a document, simply name the file, then select the appropriate Microsoft extension.

Patty Harshbarger, the owner of Computer Renaissance in Bradenton. can be reached at or 753-8277. Send her questions or topics you would like addressed in this column.