Windows Apps to new PC

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Windows Apps to new PC: a reader asks…

I finally bought a new computer. Got my old laptop cleaned & transferred all my documents. But how do I transfer my programs without using a CD? The new laptop doesn’t have one and I don’t have a disk for every program. I’ve seen a couple programs and i did buy a cable.

Mac users have had the Migration Assistant for years, which makes it easy to transfer all your personal files and installed apps, settings and configurations from an older Mac to a new Mac. Unfortunately, Microsoft has been slow to implement anything nearly as polished and capable. I think that’s because for the most part, apps and programs on a Mac are more simply organized, most with a single .dmg file that can be more easily transferred. By contrast, apps and programs in Microsoft Windows often deposit hundreds of files in several different places, making transferring to another computer much more complicated.

While there are apps that help you transfer programs from one computer to another, I don’t recommend it. Installing programs fresh on your computer is always going to be better. Why? Over time, programs that are installed on Windows computers may get partially corrupted as the hard disk degrades. Even if the program is still working, it’s not quite right and likely there’s some damaged files and/or under-the-hood settings and corruption on the old computer. You certainly don’t want to transfer those problems to the new computer!

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More and more software is being sold on a subscription basis now (all the computer protection programs, Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Creative Suite for example), and in almost every case, you can download the latest program version installation file from the software developer’s website. So even if you don’t have the installation disk anymore, you can still get the program installed on your new PC. You may need a license key or serial number (often printed on the CD installation disk paper sleeve or in a purchase confirmation email).

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There’s another good reason to install programs on your new computer versus attempting to transfer everything over from the old computer: housecleaning. Over time you probably installed a bunch of software on your old computer that you no longer need or use. And even if you uninstalled those programs, they likely left bits and pieces all over your hard drive. It’s just good (digital) hygiene to avoid moving all that gunk to your new PC.

Your best bet is to make a list of the programs you want on the new computer, and locate the installation source online, download it and install only those programs you really need on your new PC. Remember, less is better – the less complicated your computer setup, the less likely things are going to go wrong.

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