Loading a new computer can be time consuming, complicated

Wow, the new computer just arrived and we’re all excited. The boxes get opened, the setup instructions read, the cables connected and the “on” button pressed. The screen comes alive and the desktop appears. The icons look familiar and the mouse arrow moves across the screen. We’re ready to go. But what about the programs that were on the old machine? Where are the recipes that were saved in the old word processor? And how do we get email and browse the Internet?

Now comes the fun part. First of all, the new machine works. Probably there is an icon for a word processing program so new recipes can be typed and saved in the familiar “My Documents” just like before. There probably is an icon for Microsoft Internet Explorer, but now clicking on it might do nothing. Where do we go from here?

For the “computer comfortable” it’s time to get to work. For the less than comfortable, it might be time to seek outside help. Con Tran at Universal Computer Service, 2124 N. Tustin Ave, can be of great help.

I must admit that getting things from one machine to another is not without frustration. The first thing to do is turn on the old machine because there is information there that is going to be needed.

It must be understood that only data from the old machine can be transferred. Pictures, letters, recipes and spreadsheets can be brought from the old machine to the new. Programs cannot be transferred.

Windows XP has a built in File and Settings Transfer Wizard. Unfortunately, it appears quite complicated and has been known to cause problems. Use Windows Help and search for “File and Settings Transfer.”

Let’s not use the wizard and manually start with getting the Internet up and running. In my case, with a DSL connection, Internet Explorer knew how to connect me to the Internet and only needed my username and password. For dialup users, the Internet Connection Wizard (Control Panel, Internet Options, Connections, Setup) can be used. The necessary connection information can be retrieved from the old computer. Fill in the blanks and everything should be ready for browsing and email. If there are problems, a call to the ISP technical service may resolve them.

Transferring the Address Book and Favorites is another story. They do not transfer directly. They must be “Exported” from the old machine to a temporary file, then “Imported” into the new machine.

File transfer is relatively uncomplicated. First, decide what needs to be transferred; “My Documents,” “My Pictures,” etc. In my case, all our machines are networked so file transfer just took moments. In fact, they could be postponed and only transferred when needed. Without a network, the files must be transferred to a diskette or cd and then copied on the new machine. Newer machines may come without a diskette drive so choices are limited.

Finally, what about the programs on the old machine? Original cds must be found and reinstalled on the new machine. OK if you still have the original cds and their access codes. For downloaded programs or utilities, it might require downloading a new copy of the program and an email to the publisher stating that you have a new machine and need new access codes. Older programs might require purchasing new copies. This can be time consuming and costly. I’m still catching up with my old utility programs.

I finally have most of the things running on the new machine but still have to do some rearranging on the old machine so my wife can find the documents she needs. Then we can give the old, old machine away.

If all this sounds complicated, it is. It’s not for the faint hearted. Outside help might be the answer.

If you would like to hear more about handling a new machine or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.


Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at:

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