Easing the Personal Desktop Upgrade Process

Third-party tools make migrating to a new desktop a snap

Every few years I face a daunting task: upgrading my personal desktop computer. I find this task so repugnant that I put it off as long as possible. And every time I attend to it, I take weeks to get back up to speed.

To give you an idea of how much time has passed since I last upgraded, the machine in question is a dual 550MHz Pentium III machine, which hasn't been state-of-the-art for quite a few years. I always have other computers around, so I use my primary desktop mainly for writing, Web browsing, developing HTML code, and image and video editing. Although this system might sound too slow to do much multimedia work, it has performed like a yeoman in that role. However, the combination of my need to add high-end imaging hardware to the system and instabilities that have resulted from the hundreds of applications I've run on the computer over the years were the final straws that motivated me to upgrade to a more current system.

Given the price of desktop hardware these days, putting together a fast Pentium 4 machine with a gigabyte of memory, half a terabyte of storage, and the latest video card wasn't that big a deal, especially since I migrated my 21" monitor to the new computer. The real pain was moving all the applications I use and their configurations to the new system. I simply installed major applications, such as Microsoft Office XP, on the new computer. I installed recently acquired applications from the OEM CD-ROMs, but I had at least two dozen shareware applications that I needed to move. For most of these applications, I had lost email messages with license keys or activated files in the gigabytes worth of backup data that are sitting around my office.

Enter PC Relocator from Eisenworld. This handy tool migrates users from one computer to another, moving applications, data files, settings, and user configurations. After I received an evaluation copy of the professional version of the product, I gave it a try. Designed for the PC support technician's toolbox, PC Locator Professional gives one licensed user unlimited use of the application's point-to-point upgrade technology. At $999.95, the software is pricey for the average small office/home office (SOHO) or small network support person. For SOHOs and small networks, Eisenworld offers a single-user version, Alohabob PC Relocator Ultra Control, at $69.95, and a fully automated personal edition, Alohabob PC Relocator, at $29.95. (For more information, go to the Eisenworld Web site at http://www.eisenworld.com/default.asp . You'll find many other PC upgrade products available. Two examples are V Communications' PC Upgrade Commander, available at http://www.v-com.com/product/pcuc_ind.html , and Detto Technologies' IntelliMover, available at http://www.detto.com/products/index.html .)

Using PC Locator's capability (through the TCP/IP network connection between the old computer and the new) to move selected applications and data, I carefully moved one application at a time to the new computer. I made sure that each application still worked correctly after I moved it. Most of the applications moved correctly, although a few required that I re-enter the license key information. I also had to manually recreate file associations for some of my editing tools.

With a machine loaded less heavily than mine was, letting PC Relocator simply migrate the computer would be easy. But even with the careful attention to detail I applied to the migration, I still took only a few hours to do what used to take me days to do. I considered the software's purchase price to be money well spent.

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