New Computer? How to Data Transfer From Laptop to Laptop

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Before you recycle your old laptop, give it away, or trade it in, completing a data transfer from laptop to laptop will help you retain the important information from your old device. 

Did you know it’s even possible to transfer your settings, operating systems, and other software to your new computer?

Here are some different data transfer methods to consider when you get a new laptop. Not only will you keep important documents and information, but your new laptop will feel feel familiar and easy to use.

Use a Cable for a Data Transfer From Laptop to Laptop

The first data transfer method is using a cable, such as a USB cable, to move information from one laptop to another.

Many people prefer this transfer method because:

  • Most data transfer cables use USB ports, and some cables come with software to make moving data easier
  • With compatible laptops, you can also use an Ethernet or local area network (LAN) cable
  • Even when laptops have different operating systems, you can transfer data

If you want to do a data transfer from laptop to laptop with a cable, consider the StarTech USB 3.0 Transfer Cable, which works with Windows and Mac laptops. What makes this option ideal, especially for people who aren’t especially tech savvy, is that the software is already part of the cable. This means that there’s no need to download and install new software. 

Here are the three steps to do a transfer using a cable:

  1. View the folders in your old laptop’s hard drive by clicking on the “start” button and then clicking on the icon that looks like a folder
  2. Connect the cable and choose the folder for your new laptop 
  3. Copy and paste or drag and drop any files or folders you want to keep from your old laptop to the folder for the new one

Remember that that last step could take a while, so make sure you set aside some time to complete your data transfer. Also, remember to search your old computer’s folders carefully to make sure you don’t miss anything important.

Backup Plus Data Transfer From Laptop to Laptop With an External Hard Drive

An external hard drive is like a large memory stick for your computer. It usually houses the same type of drive you find in your laptop but in a compact package.

Think of it like a cell phone power bank. Just as a cell phone power bank is a separate device with more battery capacity, an external hard drive is a separate device that ads more storage.

Though this process takes longer than using a data transfer cable and it’s slightly more expensive, the benefits of using an external hard drive include:

  • The ability to transfer your files while saving an additional copy of your data
  • If anything happens to your new laptop after you get rid of your old laptop, your external hard drive will still have the information and programs you need 
  • These devices can store multiple terabytes (TB); a TB is enough to store about 1,000 digital copies of an encyclopedia.

Here are the steps for using an external hard drive to perform a data transfer from laptop to laptop:

  1. After you connect the device to your old laptop, drag and drop or copy and paste any files to the hard drive you want to save 
  2. To safely disconnect your external hard drive and avoid corrupted files, right-click on its icon or folder and click on “disconnect” or “eject”
  3. Connect the external hard drive to your new laptop
  4. Copy and paste or drag and drop your files onto your new laptop, and disconnect the hard drive again

One external hard drive you can consider is the My Passport Ultra from Western Digital. This device comes in 1-TB, 2-TB, 4-TB, or 5-TB capacities. 

Other features include downloadable automated backup software, which makes saving your data easier. Plus for additional security, you can activate encryption and password protection.

Migrate Your Data Without Additional Hardware or Internet Access

Data migration uses software to move files from one laptop to another. As long as both laptops have wireless capabilities, you don’t need any other physical devices.

Additionally, this Wi-Fi connection doesn’t need internet access—you can just set up a wireless connection between the two devices. 

Data migration has many benefits, including:

  • Many data migration apps are free
  • Laptops can communicate with each other directly as long as they both have Wi-Fi
  • With data migration, you can keep the data from your old computer that you may need without transferring any programs that are already part of your new laptop

Once you’re ready to do the data transfer, look for which program will help. If both of your laptops are from Apple, you can use Migration Assistant to transfer data from laptop to laptop over Wi-Fi. Migration Assistant comes with all Apple laptops, and there’s a downloadable version that moves data from Windows PCs to Apple devices. 

But if both of your laptops are Windows, you can use PC Mover by Laplink Software for data transfers. This is the software that Microsoft recommends. It is virtually the same as using Migration Assistant with a setup wizard and complimentary transfer assistance.

If you’re using Migration Assistant, here’s how to transfer data from laptop to laptop:

  1. Place your laptops near each other to use Wi-Fi
  2. After you open the program, Migration Assistant provides easy transfer instructions. It scans your old computer and lists all of its files and their sizes
  3. Select the files you want to transfer and make sure that Migration Assistant is running on both laptops
  4. Turn off any antivirus programs on both computers 
  5. Then, turn them back on when you finish

Remember, transferring large files could take a few hours. 

Clone Your Hard Drive To Create a Copy of Your Old Laptop’s Data

Cloning uses a software program to create an exact replica of your old laptop’s hard drive for your new computer.

Cloning your hard drive has many benefits including:

  • The ability to clone one disk to another directly or create an image of a disk so you can store as many copies of the original drive as your new hard drive space allows
  • Seeing a detailed list of all the hard drives and other data storage devices currently connected to your computer when you start the program
  • Being able to save a complete copy of your data to another hard drive
  • The ability to store multiple copies of your old laptop’s hard drive

Here are the steps for cloning or imaging:

  1. Install the cloning software on your old computer
  2. While the program is open, select the files you want to transfer to the new hard drive
  3. Connect the laptops with a cable and transfer the data to your new laptop 
  4. Now you can use your new laptop’s hard drive to start your old computer’s operating system and other programs on your new device

One cloning software option available is from Macrium Reflect, which offers subscriptions and one-time payment versions. You can download a 30-day trial to see if this solution is right for you before you buy.

Cloud Storage Keeps Your Data Online

If you can’t figure out how to do a straight laptop-to-laptop transfer, another option is a laptop to cloud transfer. 

Cloud storage lets you store your files on the internet, or more accurately “in the cloud.” The provider maintains and manages the network, servers, and other infrastructure to keep your information safe.

Using cloud storage has many pros:

  • Cloud storage means there’s no physical storage device that could become damaged 
  • Most cloud storage is completely online and you don’t have to download extra software to access your files
  • You can access your data anywhere with internet access
  • This method means you don’t have to use space on your new laptop for data storage
  • Cloud storage is also an excellent data backup method
  • Many cloud storage services let you give others access to your documents so people can work on the same file simultaneously, or view photos and other large files 
  • Cloud storage users only need to pay for the capacity they use, and some cloud storage providers offer limited services for free

Which Cloud Storage Should You Choose?

When it comes to cloud storage, there are two main options people like:

Google Drive is one of the most popular cloud storage apps, and it can help you in many ways:

  • It works with many devices, including laptops and even smartphones
  • It provides 15 gigabytes (GB) of free storage to everyone who signs up
  • Gmail comes with a Google Drive button that lets you choose the file you want to share and sends the person an automatic notification email

Meanwhile, Microsoft OneDrive also has many benefits:

  • It saves the data in your laptop’s desktop, documents, and pictures folders automatically
  • You can use it to back up additional files as well
  • When you subscribe to Microsoft 365, you’ll get 1 TB of free storage space 
  • If you’re not a Microsoft 365 user, 5 GB are still free

A Data Transfer From Laptop to Laptop Keeps You From Losing Information

Instead of getting rid of important information with your old laptop, transferring data to a new device can be easy. With a transfer cable, cloud storage, or an external hard drive, your new laptop will feel familiar and you’ll have access to your old files. Don’t let the fear of a data transfer keep you from enjoying your new laptop.