Q. My new computer is all set up, security-wise. How do I get my data from the old machine to the new one?
A. This is a question that has bedeviled computer users since the arrival of desktops. This transfer is easier today, but it still is not the snap it should be.
There are a number of programs made for this purpose. The best known is AlohaBob PC Relocator ($30). AlohaBob picks up your data, settings and individual programs and moves them to the new computer. A $70 version gives you more control over what is moved.
Other programs in this class include Move Me ($35), Desktop DNA Professional, ($39), and IntelliMover ($50). Following are the links to all four, respectively: http://www.eisenworld.com/ProductsHome.asp?Item=2 http://www.spearit.com/ http://www.miramar.com http://www.detto.com
Windows XP also has a transfer utility. It won't move programs, but it will handle your data and system settings.
The utility is called the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard. To find it, click Start>>All Programs>>Accessories>>System Tools. If you use this wizard, and you're not on a network, you can use a null modem serial cable. You should be able to find that at an electronics store for less than $15.
I have used relocation programs successfully in the past. But members of my staff have had bad experiences with them. They generally ended up transferring their data via a CD or DVD.
Most people keep their personal files under my documents. In that case, you can just burn the whole My Documents folder to a disc.
You may have other things, such as saved e-mail, that is not kept in the My Documents folder. In some programs, such as Microsoft Outlook, you can easily export your archived mail, contacts and other folders to a file. You can then burn the file to a CD or DVD and move it to the new computer. You also could e-mail it to yourself if it isn't too big.
To export files, click File>>Import and Export. Follow the wizard.
Outlook Express is more difficult. You can export the Address Book (File>>Export>>Address Book). You also can export your accumulated messages, but only to Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange. That's not much help if you don't have those programs.
However, you can copy the mail folders. To find them, open Outlook Express. Click Tools>>Options. Select the Maintenance tab. Click Store Folder. A small box will pop up with the path to your mail folders. Highlight the path and click Ctrl+C to copy it. In Windows Explorer, use Ctrl+V to paste it into the Address Bar. That will open the folder, which will have several files in it, ending in "dbx."
Copy the files. Burn them to a disc or e-mail them to yourself. Use the same process to find the proper folder on the new computer. Paste the files into that folder.
Your Favorites can also be exported from Internet Explorer. Click File>>Import and Export. Follow the wizard.
You can use the same process to save your cookies. If you fail to do that, you'll have to re-enter your passwords on those Web sites that require it. Also, merchants won't be able to fill in credit card fields for you automatically. That's not the end of the world; moving the cookies is a minor convenience.
Bookmarks also can be moved in Firefox. Click Bookmarks>> Manage Bookmarks. In the new window, click File>>Export. Save the file and burn it to a disc. If you still have Internet Explorer on your computer, use it to export cookies to a file. If not, copy the cookies and paste them into the new computer. Find the cookies at these locations in Windows Explorer: Windows 98 and ME--C:\Windows\Cookies Windows 2000 and XP--C:\Documents and Settings\[your name]\Cookies
Have patience with this task. It will take some time!
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