Moving to a New Computer

My computer was five years old and starting to give me signs that it was on its way out. Rather than wait for it to fail entirely, I decided to go ahead and get a new computer. After some browsing, I picked up a new PC — 2 TB hard drive 128 GB solid state drive, and 12 GB RAM (expandable to 32 GB), and with 10 USB ports. I brought it home and couldn’t wait to set it up!

But first, I had to get all of the stuff off of my old computer and onto my new one. It was a daunting task! With a little planning, it all worked out and I’m typing this on my new machine.

Here are a few tips I learned for making a relatively painless move to a new computer:

One Last Virus Scan

My first step was to run a full virus scan on the old computer before moving its contents to the new computer. Better safe than sorry!

Take Notes

For my computer move, I created a file in Google Drive to track everything on my old machine. I listed the:

  • Name of every program
  • License numbers for all the programs
  • Any user account names and passwords for programs (like Adobe)

I colour-coded all the software that I could just download again (e.g. Photoshop CC, Norton Anti-Virus, etc.) because I have a user account and the company offers extended downloads. For all others, I made a point of copying all of the files associated with it so that I could move it to my new computer.

Then I created a list of important files that I absolutely didn’t want to forget to copy. Here was my Do Not Forget list:

  • Fonts
  • Photoshop Actions, Styles, Brushes, Scripts, etc.
  • Lightroom Presets
  • iTunes library of music and media
  • Purchased eBooks
  • My Documents
  • Scrapbooking layered files

Of course, I also did not want to forget my photos and digital scrapbooking supplies, but I’ll discuss those below because I manage them in a different way than other files.

Check the Back-ups

I back up remotely to BackBlaze, as well as to an external hard drive (EHD). I spot checked that my back-ups were in good order before I started moving any files. I didn’t want to risk losing anything! Once I was sure that the back-ups were okay, I turned off my back-up software so that it would all remain safe when I started the process of copying and moving my documents to my new machine.

EHDs are your friend

My photo library is just over 600 GB in size and my digital scrapbooking supplies folder is almost 300 GB so I store these an external hard drive that is mirrored to another external hard drive. That means that I didn’t have to move all that data to my new computer — I just plugged the EHDs into my new machine and they were ready to use.

For all of my other files (listed above), I copied them in their original folders to one of my EHDs.

Shut Down the Old Computer and Set Up the New Computer

The fun part! This is a great opportunity to tidy up cords and get them neatly organized.

My new computer had a set-up wizard that walked me through setting up my user account, wireless internet, and warranty registration.

Start With the Programs

The first thing I did was set up every program that I wanted on my machine.

As I did each one, I also moved over all of the associated files. So, as soon as I installed Photoshop, I also migrated all of PS actions, brushes, extensions, etc. and verified that it worked. I found doing it one-at-a-time like this kept me organized and let me make sure that one program was fully functional before moving on to the next.

I also chose to remove all of the programs and apps that I didn’t need at the same time, but that’s a matter of preference.

Once I had all of my programs installed or installed, I restarted my computer to let all changes take effect.

Move the Other Files

Next I went to my back-ups that I had moved to my EHD and I started moving the folders off of the EHD and onto my new computer. It’s a relatively straight-forward process.

Re-establish Back-up Service

Finally, I installed Backblaze on my new machine and followed the instructions on the site to transfer the back-up state to my computer. Basically, this transfers the license to my new computer and associates all of the backed up files from my old machine to my new one. It was easy to do.


There were a few pleasant surprises in this computer changeover. I learned that my Google Chrome settings effortlessly migrated to my new computer as soon as I logged in. The same goes for Google Drive and Dropbox. That’s a big selling point for cloud storage for me. I won’t put everything on the cloud, but I know I’ll use the cloud for a lot more than I have in the past. (In fact, I drafted this post in Google Drive.)

I was also happy with how my digital supply tagging software, ACDSee, imported all of its embedded metadata. I didn’t lose any tagging which is good because I worked really hard to get a system that works for me – I’d hate to lose it!

Next Steps

Because my old computer was failing and is more than 5 years old, my next step will be taking it to a local company that does data destruction to wipe my old hard drive permanently before I get rid of it. Just deleting files does not mean that they are not recoverable by those with malicious intents. There is also software that you can purchase to wipe a hard drive, but the local company is competitively priced and my family has used their services before with good results.

Do you have any tips for anybody who will be changing computers soon?