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Old PC & New PC: Can I Use Both?

Sandy from Sparks, Nevada writes:

I have a new laptop that came loaded with Windows 7. My desktop, which I love and adore, is loaded with the original (and updates, of course) of XP. I have no plans of changing the desktop, it’s still working great, but the laptop is new and I’m wondering if I will have an compatibility problems between the two since they are both hooked up to the same router and wireless printer. The laptop is still in the box, not set up yet….


The good news is if your older computer is still working you can keep using it along with your new computer. Most wireless printers support printing from multiple computers and even older routers can handle a few computers hooked up at once. There are a few tips and products which can make running two computers at the same time easier and faster.

The first thing you need to do is make sure all of your devices (like printers, scanners, usb devices, etc) work with the new computer. You can check the manufacturer’s website for the device to see if there are drivers you can download and install before connecting it to your new computer. If the device does not work with your new computer, it’s more important then ever you have access to the old computer until you get a newer version of the device to replace the incompatible one.

A great purchase for someone who wants to use two computers is a KVM switch. A KVM switch allows you to connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse to two computers at once. You can also connect a USB hub to the USB port on the KVM to connect multiple USB devices to both computers. You can only use the devices connected with one computer at a time, but you can switch back and forth easily. KVM switches range in price from $30 to $60, but will save a lot of frustrating cable switching

Another accessory you may look at purchasing is a better router. If you’re going to run two computers at once on a network, you want to make sure your router isn’t slowing you down. Check the specifications of your existing and new computers and make sure your router is set up to handle those speeds. Many new laptops come with 802.11N wireless, which results in significantly faster file transfers from computer to computer. If you’re using an older 802.11G or 802.11B router, it would benefit you to upgrade.

The final accessory which may benefit you is a network attached hard drive. These types of hard drives look like regular external hard drives, but connect via a network cable or Wi-Fi connection to your router instead of a USB cable to a single computer. The hard drive can then be accessed by all computers on your network. You can store files on it that both computers can access and make backups of both computers on to the drive.