Yet another reason to get a Mac – installing software on a new one

Rather than bring all my software installation discs with me wherever I go, I simply move the software I had on my old computer to new ones, plus any applicable updates. This strategy works especially well on Macs that have firewire, since one can act as an external hard disk to another. The files can simply be copied over. There is usually even a settings assistant to move over settings, though I like to do that myself to get rid of things I no longer need/use.

For Windows 7, even mounting the old drive in an external case does not help too much. Since Microsoft was so concerned about security, the new computer refuses to copy over files – even though my new Windows computer has the same username as the old one. It knows that it is not created on the same computer, thanks to the way they use NTFS. In order to do the copy, I have to do a third step – copy the files to a non NTFS formatted drive (such as one formatted as FAT32).

In case you think you have to install software again for it to work on Windows, it is not true. The files simply have to be copied into the corresponding locations. Then one can run an updater and get the registry entries back necessary for the software to run. I have transferred programmes like Wenlin, QQ, and Trillian over this way many times.

Anyhow, the best way to move files is actually to use a Mac, connect the new and old computer’s drives externally, and copy the files via the Mac. The Mac completely ignores permissions on NTFS drives. Of course, I need to install something to write to NTFS on the Mac – a free, slow one, or a fast one I have to pay for. Either way, it works better than Windows works with its own files. I suppose kind of like how OpenOffice.org can often recover Microsoft Office files Microsoft Office itself cannot recover.

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