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Transfer Data Between Machines


Transferring files between PCs can be tricky. Lonnie Clark from Charlotte, NC has purchased a new PC and wants to know: “How do I transfer files from an old PC (XP)to a new PC (Windows 8.1) and what do I need to purchase, cables etc…to make the transfer?”


Thanks for the great question, Lonnie.

The good news is that you may not have to purchase anything.  Or, if you do, you may be able to buy something that you can continue to use for other purposes after you’re done with your file transfer.  The bad news is that with XP, your options are somewhat more limited than they would be if you were transferring from a Windows 8.1 or 10 PC.  Once you get everything over to your Windows 8 PC you’ll be able to use Homegroup to easily move files from one PC to another.

The easiest way is to move the files that you want to transfer to a removable medium such as DVD’s, thumb drives or a portable hard drive.  Attach the portable medium (or insert a DVD) into your old PC and move the files that you want to transfer from the old PC to the portable medium.  Move the portable medium to your new PC and move the files to your new PC.  This can be time, and, depending on the size of your portable medium, resource consuming, but is easy.

If you don’t have a large thumb drive or portable hard drive, you can typically buy one for less than $100.  Worldstart’s store, for instance, has a one terabyte hard drive for less than $60.  One TB = 1000 GB, so that should be plenty to move all of your files.  This option will also give you a hard drive to use for future backups.

Failing that, you can buy software or a file transfer cable for less than $50.


This will allow you to treat your old PC as if it were portable media and just transfer the files directly from one PC to another, or, in the case of software, allow you to transfer the data wirelessly.  A file transfer cable is FAST, but does require the monetary investment.  Some software will also allow you to transfer your old PC’s settings as well as files.

I hope that this helps!

~ Randal Schaffer


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4 Responses to “Transfer Data Between Machines”

  1. ray says:

    So, you load all you files on your thumb drive and then load or boot directly from the thumb drive and nothing works. Why?

    You told him how to move the files but not the applications.

    He was looking to move his XP drive, with all application and functionality, to his new machine.

    Very poor and incomplete answer.

  2. Ron Harris says:

    I think the separate stand alone hard drive is the best option and it’s also my periodic backup device.

  3. Randal says:

    Actually, Ray, if you look at his question, he asks how to transfer FILES from one PC to another. I believe that I provided a complete answer to that question.

    As far as your question goes… there is, unfortunately, no guaranteed way to move applications from one machine to another for one simple reason… the registry. Each app or program that you put on your machine creates listings within the registry. That’s why a corrupted registry may cause your programs to fail. The simplest and easiest way to do this is to move your files, use something like Magic Jelly Bean to find the keys for programs that you want to keep, and then redownload the programs. This will also give you the best version of the program for your new OS.


  4. June Pinto says:

    SFTP is a secure file transfer protocol but very difficult for end users to transfer files. I recommend a file transfer software called Binfer.

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