Moving to a new home is one of those things that gets harder to do, as life goes on. This is probably due to a combination of factors: as time goes by, we get more stuff, the stuff we get is increasingly heavier, and it gets harder for our aging bodies to carry all our stuff. The last time I moved to a new home, I used a professional moving company for the first time — it was a wonderful experience and I could not imagine trying to do it any other way. I can still remember the previous move (where I hadn’t used a professional mover) and the weeks of soreness and countless U-haul trips — never again.
A couple weeks ago, I got a brand new laptop. It ’s one of the reasons I really love my job — at JKI we turn over our old laptops every 24 month (one cycle of Moore’s Law), and they are replaced with the second best laptop money can buy (you know, right where the cost/performance curve changes from linear to exponential). In this case, I traded in my Inspiron 9100 3Ghz P4 for a new Inspiron E1705 2 GHz Core 2 Duo. Yes, I love having a blazingly fast computer, but moving from one laptop to another can be a process that is anything but blazingly fast. Often, this involves a couple days of installing all the MS Office software, various versions of National Instruments LabVIEW and device drivers, tweaking all of my application preferences, and so on. It goes without saying that this is one of my absolute least favorite things to do. Yes, moving to a new computer can be just as painful as (you guessed it) moving to a new home.
Those of us who really love our computers have Gigabytes of digital photos, music, documents, emails, contact lists, software, and countless other items painstakingly organized in our digital homes. Moving all of this digital data, hopefully not losing any of it, and getting it re-arranged on a new computer can be a daunting task. However, this time I was going to see if there was an easier way. So, I searched the net to see if there were any software products out there that made the process of moving to a new computer easier. I found a few that looked promising, and finally settled on one called PCmover, which claimed to be able to merge all of my old computer’s data and installed programs onto a new computer over a local area network. This was a tall claim, but I figured, what the heck… if it works, then I’m thrilled… if it doesn’t work, then I’ll just revert the new computer to the factory configuration and do it the old fashioned way (spend a couple days, or more, installing software and moving files). So I shelled out the 50 bucks for PCmover, downloaded the software directly from their website, and began the process.
The setup process for PCmover was very simple. In just a few minutes, I had installed it on the old and new laptops and the two computers had discovered each other on the network (from within PCmover). The setup actually seemed a little too simple (and simplistic). There weren’t a whole lot of configuration options, which one might expect: for example, options for which specific applications and/or data that I wanted to copy from the old system onto the new system. But, I wasn’t too annoyed because I really wanted to copy everything from the old computer onto the new computer. So, after just a few minutes of setup time, I was ready to press the “go” button. I thought to myself, “here goes nothing”.
The process of moving all the files and programs between the two computers was quite long — it took all night. I started the process around 4 pm and it was completed around 4 am, the next morning. I woke up that morning and the first thing that I did was check to see how things were going. I rebooted the new laptop, logged in, and proceeded to inspect the system. Everything seemed to be OK. All of my data and programs were merged into the new computer. However, once I tried running the programs, it was a different story. I kept getting Visual C++ run-time errors when running a lot of my programs. I save you the full story, but the solution was pretty straight-forward: re-install .NET 2.0 and the Microsoft Installer framework — after I did that, things were working pretty well. Of course, there were still some issues: many programs no longer recognized that they were activated and required reactivation and others required re-installation. But, when all things were said and done the shortcomings weren’t too bad, considering the alternative of manually moving my data, programs, and configurations to the new laptop… it makes me tired just thinking about it.