Migrating Everything to a New Laptop

I got a new laptop. What my work expects is you reinstall every application when you do migrate and restore your backup from the network. I have 20 or so applications, and probably 2-5GB of documents and source files. I told the tech support person that the official approach just wouldn't work. So I was on my own.

Ideally, you'd just plug computer A into computer B and get your stuff copied over as part of the initialization. I got Hitomi's stuff copied over this way using a firewire connection. But Windows doesn't have migration support like Mac OS X does. (Maybe Vista does?)

In any case, although I'm sure there's a better way to do it, I at least figured out a fairly fail-safe way to migrate.

Computer A:

  1. Buy an external USB drive that can hold all your data, preferably a fast one.
  2. Delete any large files you don't really need.
  3. Install Cygwin.
  4. Plug in the drive; format the USB drive as NTFS. 
  5. Run "regedit.exe" … Export the registry to your desktop as "old-registry.reg".
  6. Run "rsync -r -m -t –progress –update /cygdrive/c/ /cygdrive/e/ " Note: Change e to the actual drive letter assigned by the OS. This may take an hour or so.

Computer B:

  1. Run "regedit.exe" … Export the registry to your desktop as "new-registry.reg".
  2. Plug in the drive.
  3. Go to e:cygwinbin , run "rsync -r -t –progress –ignore-existing /cygdrive/e/ /cygdrive/c/" Again, check the drive letters. Patiently wait.
  4. Run "regedit.exe"… Import old-registry.reg , then import new-registry.reg . (I'd imagine that without the second import, your computer would be probably hosed. One thing I'd like to try is just exporting HKEY_CURRENT_USER, but some software creates registry keys wherever it wants to.)
  5. Restart and pray.

If everything goes well, you should have all your files in the correct place and programs should all work. Though I did have some weird problems with my audio and wireless in Windows when I restarted. Reinstalling or updating a couple of drivers fixed the problems for me.

This approach also works for full system backups and restores.

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About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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1 Response to Migrating Everything to a New Laptop

  1. Tim Dunn says:

    The last time I had to migrate, I just copied everything onto CDs. Of course, a lot of programs don't work if you do that, so it was mostly data files that I transferred that way, and I had to go back to the source for installing programs. Of course, you no doubt have many more programs and larger data files that I do. I think I filled 6 CDs.Restart and pray is always good, of course…

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