Migrating data to a new computer

Here at Wake Forest it is almost time for us to get our new computers. That means we need to migrate our data from old machines to new machines. 

The increased utilization of cloud-based services to store and/or sync data makes this much easier that it has ever been. However, it is still something you should think about and plan for.

Step 1: Know where your stuff is located on your hard drive

Too many users do not know or understand where and how there programs save their stuff. If you can’t find your data and files on your computer without opening the associated programs, then you have a problem.

Step 2: Clean 

You don’t really want to move everything on your old computer to your new one. Take some time to consider what you have and whether or not it is worth moving to a new computer. Users collect a lot of stuff over the course of the life of a computer. It is easy to accumulate a lot of “junk” and duplicates because clicking save is so easy. Too many people fall into the “I might need it later” trap. Be ruthless in your assessment and the Delete key is your friend.

Step 3: Separate stuff into “Archive” and “Migrate” and back it all up

Now that you’ve gotten it weeded down to the important stuff, decide what can be archived and left in storage and what needs to actually be put on the new computer. Then put it all in a backup.

There are lots of options for backing up – external local hard drives, local NAS, could-based services, even optical discs and flash media. There are pros and cons to each of the potential solutions. It’s really a whole separate discussion/article. The thing is to make sure you have your backups and you can recover important data in the event of a catastrophe. 

Step 4: Put your “Migrate” stuff onto the new computer.

Copy the stuff you’ve designated as “Migrate” onto your new computer. Congratulations, you’ve migrated your data.


Tools for assisting in data migration

I personally use several tools and services which help make it easier for me to get data from an old computer to a new one.

  • My external USB hard drive for backup and archive (I personally don’t use online backup solutions like SpiderOak** or Carbonite*)
  • Dropbox (online storage and syncing service)*
  • Box (online storage)*
  • LastPass
  • Xmarks
  • My Google account** – emails in Gmail, office files in Drive, and images in Picasa
  • My Microsoft Live*** account and Skydrive for storing files online



* For faculty and staff members: I do not believe that free Carbonite, Dropbox, and Box services are FERPA and/or HIPAA compliant. I am trying to confirm. If they are not, then would be liable for a breach if you stored sensitive information in those services. 

** Google Apps for Education (what we have a WFU) and SpiderOak (business level accounts) are FERPA compliant, according to WFU Information Systems personnel. I believe that they are HIPAA compliant as well, but I am awaiting confirmation.

I am unclear whether a personal Google account (an @gmail.com address) or Personal/Free SpiderOak account is FERPA or HIPAA compliant.

*** I’m trying to find out whether Microsoft Live accounts are FERPA or HIPAA compliant.


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